The director's birthday cake
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"Using world of mouth", popped up on a later slide for which a further crevice on the chair refused to absorb me as I edged further back. Over 300-slides flashed before us during the 3-hour pitch to a private mobile network provider, a recent comer to the market of which broke the state run monopoly. Me and seven other colleagues arrived to try an achieve what we didn't last year with the previous pitch. "Daveed, I want you to present the creative side of the pitch", announced the company director having just dragged me from the busy studio. Being slightly concerned that the development of the proposed campaign evolved way beyond my understanding (due to my attention being needed elsewhere) I suggested another colleague. "Why me?", I asked, trying to hide the traces of stress in my voice while tapping my pen down on a long list of other projects bullet pointed in my diary. "Prestige", responded the marketing direct to my other side, leading me to draw the pen to the pending new year date circled on the lower end of the diary. The thick circle transformed to a zero before my eyes, for which I imagined being added to the end of my pending salary increase.
"What does the slogan exactly translate as again?", I asked the director as he stared on emotionlessly, "is this it?", he responded, "have you started the presentation?". He knew only too well that not only I but the entire department lost the love for the concept – his concept – upon having it forced on us; poo pooing all the others shortlisted. Before the four unimpressed eyes my embarrassment shifted to confusion as I once again questioned exactly who assumed the most senior creative role.
Who holds the most senior creative role has been a mystery to me ever since joining the company - at times I've erroneously considered it might be me. Not only has this been illustrated otherwise on many occasions but was literally evident on slide 245 whereby by an incorrect spelling of my name sat below that of a former colleague who no longer works for the company.
During the live performance I animated myself as best I could to the shortened version of the creative team's section of the presentation. I tried to gloss over the fact that the concept didn't seem to correspond with how things function with mobile network providers and compensated for this in a fine display of BS, plucked from thin air as it seemed appropriate. The result was a grinning director and none of the glaring gaps pointed out by the prospective client.
But then pinkie needed to go, leaving me baffled as to why the presentation continued in EnglishOne-by-one our team stood before the four bemused Iranian faces and one foreign key player's. It was bizarre to hear my colleagues present their respective department's efforts in English and yet pleasing to hear that more errors existed in the typed word glowing before us. Two of the twelve watched in comfort, but then pinkie needed to go, leaving me baffled as to why the presentation continued in English; was all this for my benefit I thought as I pinched myself. This lasted about 20-slides before we all realised that we were Iranian and thus heated words were exchanged in the resulting power vacuum.
Their second in command emerged with peculiar criticisms, maybe to show us that he warrants his role despite his age. None of these made sense to our side of the table as he careered on and above the noise brought about by the open-office, "Salam Mehdi jaan, sedaam miad... Allo, Mehdi... Khoobi?". The resulting laughter wasn't helping number two's platform. "Allo, Mehdi, goosh kon... Mehdi, balah baleh... nah, 'W.W.W, dot, eye arr aye'... Mehdi? Gerefti? 'W.W.W, dot', Mehdi?", continued the hilariously loud voice as I pondered if the network provider in use was also the one we'd come to try and win work from.
My director rose to conclude the tiring episode and brought laughter again to the room with his repeated mention of not being served tea as yet, "it's not Ramazan is it?", he remarked, only getting another wry smile from the other side of the table. We were done; laptops closed; notes gathered and hands shaken, we took to the lift and waited for the doors to close before expressing our thoughts on the afternoon. Unlike my colleagues I grumbled on about the absence of warm beverages; questioning what exactly we in Iran are trading these days.