Archive for market research


Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by javedbabar

“Area O has 42% activity. Area M has 12%. Area H has only 4%. Area T has 9%. Area C has 14%. I am using these as the Rest State Benchmarks.”

Martin wasn’t sure that he was meant to hear these remarks, but the door was open and he hadn’t been drugged. It was a young female voice. He wondered what she looked like.

His experience so far was not interesting. After an hour in reception, they’d taken him up or down some levels – the elevator was strange and he wasn’t sure which – and brought him to this room called the ScanLab, where spots of gel, and then electrodes, had been attached to his head. He’d asked them how many; they’d said twelve. He’d sat here for half an hour with nothing happening. It was not a great way to spend a day, but he was getting paid a hundred bucks for two hours work, so who cares.

A tall lady with dark hair and brown glasses came in and said, “Hello, I’m Joyce, your researcher.”

“My researcher?” he said. Maybe she looked tall because he was lying down.

“Sorry, I mean the researcher. Thank you for agreeing to this. It took longer than expected to set things up, so we’re a bit behind. You can leave after two hours if you wish to. But if we need to keep you longer, and it’s okay with you, we’ll give you an additional hundred dollars per hour. How does that sound?”

“Keep me all day if you want!” This wasn’t a bad gig.

“Wonderful. Let’s begin.” She adjusted her glasses. “We want to show you some items and record your responses. That’s it.”

“And I presume you’ve wired me up for a reason?”

“Yes indeed. As well as your conscious behaviour, we would also like to test your unconscious behaviour. You don’t need to be sleeping for this; we just need to know what’s happening in your mind.”

Martin would have liked to see too, but the monitor was in the room next door. He wasn’t getting paid fifty bucks an hour, going up to a hundred for overtime, for watching TV.

Joyce passed him a card bearing mathematical symbols, which he realized were Greek letters. He noted Alpha, Beta, Theta, Gamma and Pi, but couldn’t make out any larger meaning.

From the other room he heard, “Look – Area T has hit 38% here.”

“What is this?” said Martin.

“It’s some early advertising. A lost and found poster from Ancient Greece. Can you make any sense of it?” He said he couldn’t.

She passed him another card, with hieroglyphs. He recognized the Ankh and Eye of Horus; palm trees, people and animals were easy; the blue curls must be water.

He heard, “Area C now, look… 48%.”

Joyce said, “This is a home rental ad from Ancient Egypt.” Martin raised his eyebrows. She continued, “Beautifully laid out, isn’t it?”

Before he could answer, she passed him a third card bearing Indian letters. He’d seen similar script on people’s tattoos. He recognized the curly 3-like letter as an OM sign, but that was it. He heard, “Area O is 68% and Area M is 34%. Area H is minus four.”

Joyce said, “These are personal ads from Ancient India – families advertising for marriage partners for their daughters. They were way ahead of us in dating!”

“Now try this one,” she said, pushing a fourth card towards him. It held Chinese letters, none of which he recognized, but which for some reason gave him a sense of great wellbeing.

“Woh!” he heard from the next room. “Area H is 100%! All other Areas are high!”

Joyce looked up suddenly. She’d lost her cool.

“What was that card?” he asked.

She hesitated and looked at the mirror, and then at him. “A poster for medicine from 3000 BC China.” She pulled out some other cards. “Now please look at these.”

There was a tortoise.

There was the sun.

There was the ocean.

There was gold.

His sense of wellbeing remained. That Chinese medicine must be a strong one. The images were harmonious, and all of long-living or imperishable things.

There was excited conversation in the room next door. A man said, “Is that it? Have we found the leverage point?”

Another man said, “That’s it! We’ll check the relevance of his surrounding content, and traffic received, but I think we’ve got it. Area H, the Hypothalamus, fully engaged with the Elixir of Life poster. That shows we can directly control biological functions with archetypal advertising. Prepare the Brainspam.”

When Martin went home he felt very different. Everything was wonderful, and would remain so as long as he kept taking his medicine.