Champion Room Fragrance’s marketing brainstorm stared glumly at each other around the table in the Byron Suite of a country house hotel. Mature willows drooped outside in the water meadow. Their heads ached. Their mouths were dry with bad coffee. Layout paper was strewn about the floor, daubed by platitudes, false starts, plagiarisms, and other commercial gibberish all in bright blue marker pen.
Sally, the moderator, took a deep breath and started again. The Champion group was a major source of business for her research consultancy; she could ill afford any client dissatisfaction. The situation wasn’t help by Terry Champion, the heir apparent, sitting at one end of the table in his striped shirt and red braces (everyone else had been told “smart casual”). Terry Champion spoke as he found.
“Come on, everyone,” she said earnestly, widening her eyes to maximum sincerity. “There are no wrong answers here. We need to think out of the box, forget there’s a box at all. We want to be off the map.
“Right off the map!” Terry rapped the table in front of him.
“Let your imagination flow! Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, it could still trigger something. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is silly. Everything is useful.”
“Keith,” barked Terry. “You’re team leader, fucking lead.”
Keith stood up, terrified and portly, dyed hair scraped across his dome. He attempted a wacky grin. “Right!” he said, frantically. “Right! We all strip off, completely naked, thread daisies through our pubes, run into the store and jump up and down and shout ‘Champion’s Room Fragrances! As fresh as The Rites of Spring!’”
His eyes swept the room, desperately seeking approbation.
“Interesting,” Sally tried to sound like she as giving this serious thought.
“That’s not off the map!” yelled Terry. “That’s off your fucking head!”