Oooo Baby Baby Baby

(posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005)

If there was one thing that Vickie understood well, it was marketing. If there was another, it was the chronic state of underfunding in the CCCP. While some might look at Red Saviour's pregnancy as a disaster, Vickei saw a Marketing Opportunity.

And she took advantage of Nat's distraction to hit her and hit her hard.

First: a call to her agent, who was, of course, only a prose-agent, but who knew a few good marketing agents. Once she rejected four who didn't understand that pulling a deal that would end up offending RS in some way was probably going to mean a brokine nose at best and a Chevy in the living room at worst, she tracked down one that specialized in "ethical advertising."

By the end of the day, she had a pile of endorsement deals lined up. Some had only the agency fee paid out in currency, the rest would be paid "in kind" rather than in cash, which Vickie figured Nat would go for anyway.

Numero Uno: a woman-run cloithing company that used home-sewers and specialized in "all natural" fibers. Their stuff looked like hippie clothing to Vic, but they were trying a new line of maternity wear that just hadn't taken off. It was comfortable and sturdy, if somewhat lacking in cutting-edge styling. Their suggested slogan: "Maternity wear for the really active mother."

Numero Two: another fringe-market company, with 100% biodegradable disposable diapers.

Numero Three: another woman-run company, a real collective, running a diaper service.

Numero Four: a major baby-food company that was bringing out a line of strictly organic baby food.

Numero Five: Ben and Jerry's wanted to bring out a flavor called SuperMom. It would be whatever Nat liked out of their new products. Hopefully she was going to like something that didn't include pickles or vodka.

There were all things Vickie and the agent, after a lot of going over companies with a fine-tooth comb, figured would pass muster with Nat's eagle eye.

Then came the call.

"Victoria," said the smooth, cultured voice on the other end of the phone when the caller ID popped up with "Unavailable." "I understand congratulations for the CCCP are in order twice."

Vickie had to pause for a moment to memory-search for number two. "That would be a thoughtful gesture on your part, Ms. Llewellyn," she replied. "Seraphic Flame is very grateful for your help and she and Johnny are so blissful it's likely to give us all diabetes."

"And Red Saviour's---expectations...." There was a chuckle in Ria Llewellyn's voice. "I take it that Natalya Shostakovich is nonplussed."

"A bit." More than a bit. But Ria Llewellyn had ears and eyes everywhere---including Vickie herself---and she would know that.

"I have a proposition. A LlewellCo proposition." Ria's voice turned absolutely serious. "That child will need a state-of-the-art security system if it isn't going to have it's hero-ID become Hostage Boy."

"Well, Mosca is planning on turning Senor Madre, but yes, point taken. And as Red herself would say, Shto? You planning on offereing?"

"With an in-kind trade, plus the in-cash commission to Ms Shostakovich's new agent." Vickie did not ask how Ria knew that when the ink on the contract hadn't dried yet. When you were a half-elven sorceress you had a lot of ways.... "And all the equipment that your little friend Belladonna has wanted for the upgrade to the Headquarters computer systems and wiring. I can have the components on a truck in an hour."

"Endorsement deal then." She thought Nat could live with that. "And the pitch?"

"Suggested slogan, 'LlewellCo protects my baby. Who is protecting yours?""

Vickie bit her lip. "Isn't that kind of fear-mongering? And...Ria, most people can't afford LlewellCo for home---"

"This won't be a home-security ad." Ria chuckled again. "Industrial security, Victoria. All the trade papers, full page, full color ad. Saviour looking as serious and menacing as possible, standing next to a crib."

Vickie felt as if she had been hit in the back of the head with a board. "Good lord. That is brilliant; And---" a second realization. "--good lord. We're here in the heart of Crey country...and RS picks LlewellCo."

Ria's chuckle sounded as if she had eaten an entire pet-store full of canaries. "Indeed. A lovely unspoken message, which is, after all, the most persuasive kind."

"I think," Vickie said slowly, thinking about the number of times that CCCP heroes had been on Crey's "most-wanted" list, that she is going to go for that."

"Then---" there was the sound of a few key clicks "---as a token of my esteem, the truck of components is on the way. Tell Comrades Aura and Storm to expect it in two hours."

Vickie hung up the phone and blinked, feeling, as she often did when dealing with Ria Llewellyn, as if she had been run over by a bus made of pillows. The impact was soft and even pleasuable, but it was still impact, and somehow you had been moved right out of your intended path and were now being carried along on Ria's/