Travel Documents 08: The Revolution, Brought To You By Nike

Genre: Alternate History, Revolution, Dystopia, satire, Podcast

 Link To Read And/Or Listen

The Dust Cover Copy

Corazon clicked to the slide she’d been dreading: long-term trends for brand engagement. It was dire.

She focused on the smudgy mirror at the far end of the conference room, looking past her team to her own reflection. She pulled her shoulders back, like her grandmother had instructed. She tipped her head to the side, disarming but not too flirty. When she spoke, she was a breath apologetic, but not too much: “As you can see, we have our work cut out for us.”

She turned to face the projected line graph behind her. “Year on year sales are down, but we’ve been expecting that due to the current… economic climate.”

That was the euphemism to end all euphemisms. Everybody in that over-air-conditioned room knew exactly what she meant, though, because they were all living on the same rapidly sinking ocean liner. Gregoria, a junior art director, began to nervously shred the paper cup her morning latte had come in.

“The really bad part is this.” Corazon swept her hand along the line labeled Brand Perception, which had plummeted like a stone in the aftermath of the election. “And it’s not just us. The truth is, nobody gives a shit about brands right now.”

 

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

 

The words above begin a complex, wry and ultimately uplifting tale that is all too close to reality. It centers around the business marketing team of Nike and is seen through the eyes of Corazon. It central tenant is encapsulated in two quotes:

“Here’s the core problem we need to solve,” Corazon said. “The current administration is bad for Nike. Not just for short-term brand image, but for long-term sales. Growing income inequality means a larger share of the population will have less and less disposable income. Political and economic instability means what money people have they’re going to save. And the foreign policies in play mean global sales for American brands are going to dry up like the face of Mars. It’s already started.”

“Corporations are made of people. Thousands of people. And they all had to live in the same world as everybody else. Maybe they could use that power, not to rule the world, but to improve it.”

So Corazon and her team sets to work to use their Corporate power. In a near future in which the (unnamed ;)) president announces that he will call India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi “Dave” because it’s easier to remember, China circles Taiwan with a “protective cordon” of battleships, salmonella is killing people across the plains and Canada is no longer speaking to the United States, Corazon and her team put together a marketing campaign that sparks a real revolution.

This story feels as if it could happen tomorrow…actually no. Let me rephrase. This story feels as if it’s happening. If we’re lucky.

‘The Revolution’ encapsulates the sense of hopelessness felt by many in the United States at the moment, but it goes beyond that and into the power we have when we do stand together with a shared purpose and a shared dream. Presented by Escape Pod as a two-part podcast, it’s a story of painful reality and deep cynicism. But it is also a tale of resolve, and of hope. It’s a shot in the arm for a time like this.

The Crowd

Characterization

Only Corazon is explored in full, since the group discussed is a professional team at work. We don’t see the personal depths of much of Corazon’s team. But the personal quirks and speech mannerisms of the group make them a believable office team.

Corazon herself is a full, rich character. With her devoted love for her activist Filipino grandmother to balance her buzzword-rich corporate jargon in work scenes, she is written as a powerful character. She is fierce in the face of her own fear. She is resolute, but not idealistic. In the dark of the night she is afraid, but she isn’t letting that stop her. She knows exactly how the deck is stacked. And she’s ready to play regardless.
Add in a sly sense of wit, a hatred of early mornings, and the planning skill that Corporate America is justly famed for, and you have a tough and savvy business woman you can absolutely see walking down the hall.

The Lingo

Writing style

 

Deliberate, clean and bright, this story chugs along nicely. It could have drowned in corporate jargon, but Phillips walks that buzzword tightrope with aplomb and shows us how it’s done. It weaves a powerful tale that you want to believe in.

The Vibe

Overall Rating

For so many people who are downhearted and hurting in the United States today, this is a story we need. It is a battle standard. It is a laugh-out-loud piece of satire. It is a resistance battle hymn. It is a lovely dream. And it is a fire in the dark.

I’m grateful to have been given it.