At the second intermission of the Maple Leafs game Rainer made his way to the lounge. He hoped to schmooze with a few members of upper management that he spotted sitting in the platinum seats owned by the corporation.
“Rainer. Rainer Sackman,” said a voice from behind. Without even looking, Rainer recognized the voice of Milt Rupa, Senior Vice-president of Acquisitions. He was proud that someone at Milt’s level would know his name.
“Hello Mr. Rupa,” said Rainer.
“That’s what people call my father. Call me Milt.”
“Thank-you. Milt,” said Rainer. There was a long pause. Rainer’s mind raced, grasping for something to say. “So, what do you think of the game?”
“Well,” said Milt. He looked up at the rafters.
If the truth were told, neither even knew the score of the game. At Maple Leaf games, hockey’s a tertiary concern. That’s when an idea struck Rainer.
“So, who’re you sitting with?”
Milt’s eyes lit up. “The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. It took months to arrange this. If things go well, it could be a boon for our recoil division.”
“Really, wow,” said Rainer.
“You’ve seen the news, about the shake up in Internal Affairs?”
“Oh, well, I uh, well, yeah,” said Rainer.
“If we can take some of the heat off the Deputy Minister, it sets us up for a Q3 rebound, don’t you think?”
“Sure, yeah,” said Rainer.
Milt looked suspiciously at Rainer. “You haven’t been following the news, have you?”
A bead of sweat dripped down Rainer’s spine. “Well, uh, no, not exactly.”
Rainer fidgeted with the zipper on his coat. “Actually, I don’t really watch the news. I get information from, well, other sources.”
Rainer could see his career flash before his eyes. He took a deep breath, then said, “I watch TV commercials.”
Milt looked over Rainer carefully, then broke out in a hearty laugh. “That’s fantastic! What a riot! News from the commercials. You almost had me going. Like you could learn things by watching TV commercials.”
Instead of feeling relief, Rainer grew defensive. “Commercials are great for mapping trends in society,” he said.
Milt stopped laughing. “Explain,” he said.
“Well, okay,” said Rainer. He swallowed hard. “Commercials reflect business investment in society. So, like, lately I’ve seen a lot commercials selling gold. That tells me people are uncertain on the economy. Just the other day I saw an ad for investment silver and diamonds. Can you believe it? Diamonds. The economy’s worse that I thought.”
Milt crossed his arms and looked skeptical. “Go on.”
“Okay, I’m seeing more ads geared to seniors. Adult diapers, Viagara, reverse mortgages and stuff. That tells me not only is the population aging, but that aging is the only sector in society with any real buying power. Combine that with the fact that more commercials are being played by older actors. It seems to me companies are putting their marketing where their money is,” said Rainer. He took a deep breath and braced for impact.
“Rainer, what division are you in?”
“Customer support,” said Rainer. He was already thinking of ways to convince his parents to let him move back home.
“First thing tomorrow morning I want you to pack up your desk,” said Milt, “and join my team as a media consultant.”
Rainer’s eyes glazed over. “Thank-you, thank-you,” he said.
Rainer didn’t go and see the third period of the hockey game. It didn’t matter. As far as he was concerned, his side already won.