Thursday, September 27, 2018


an exercise
Funafuti is an atoll on which the capital of the island nation of Tuvalu is located,
It's a narrow sweep of land with several inlets surrounding a central lagoon. Its 28 degrees most days and rainforest humid . It's the main island in a small chain and has a population of around 6000 people. The total population spread out over a couple of Islands is close to 11 000.
The Funafuti international Airport serves as the airstrips for the weekly flights from Fiji and also provides a space for sporting and other cultural activities. It's an evening social hub.
Two yachts had slipped into the atoll, it got a bit of attention because they weren't your pacific vagabonding usuals. These were charters from Ritzycharters, the Orion 90, $55 000 a week all inclusive, crew of 4. 8 Guests. Well kinda guests, plans were afoot. They were corporate and minimum impact audio visual techs, and the 'Rose of Jericho' $60 000 a week plus expenses.
The whole project was initially underwritten by Japanese dept store giant Marui, the retail chain turns over between 2 and 3 billion a year and caters to woman 25-35.
It was decided these women would identify with a feel good story emotionally invest, increase their brand loyalty. Increase revenue.
The fact was retail was dying, it would take years but the public commons internationally was morphing into a cross between an amusement park and a cultural musuem in order to engender brand loyalty. The Japanese led the way, they marketed feelings with the retail disguised as bi-product.
What was about to happen in this tiny Pacific community amounted to a selection of the worlds best street performers crashing a runway of a sleepy pacific nation and doing a group show for the locals. Because they wanted to and getting what they wanted was a game and because the authenticity involved was a valuable asset.
Sara Salsa Anthony Livingspace and Hilby the Skinny German Juggleboy were there at the request of Lurk, Martin Ewen, the 11ft disgruntled pantomime., because he had made it happen.
Martin had had a run in with cancer that focused his pondering to the degree he scared people who didn't know him and amused those who did. He had been a clowns clown for 30 years.
He'd worked out that authenticity was the rarest asset and in a culture of plastic try hards who stole templates those who went blind into the public eye prepared to fail until they learned something genuine were the most valuable of people with the most valuable of ideas. Theatrically Blueman had stolen this and Cirque du Soleil had literally stolen and fabricated it to the tune of billions.
No matter, it took years to form but it was a self perpetuating rare quality and an extremely limited resource and Martin had worked out how to broker it from within it's community or tribe..
It wasn't all socially pretentious marketing theory akin to William Gibson shamelessly spending two pages on a Tshirt however.
The retail giant was underwriting but there were a raft of other schemes in play. A team of admins dedicated to grants and cultural exchange programs, pacific rim infrastructural improvements, united nations Millennium Development Goals had all been dotting I's and crossing T's in the background so that when this week was over the local populations would all be potentially giddy and galvanised. As it was only the bare minimum of need to know local authorities had advance notice and they had been ludicriously bribed and thus blackmailed into silence in advance.
The stage was set.