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Episode Eight: Alternative End

By Mike - Jun 7/2006
Add your comment | Posted in: Episodes

Winning alternative ending by Mike Petinarelis

Announcer Voice: Last time on The 2ndSite Murder Mystery...

Barney: Let's go back to the evidence table. It seems all of you are orally fixated, so I can't say I'm surprised poison was the method. Kathy, you have a dizzying array of tupperware in your purse. Jeff seems to hoard cookies. Daniel smokes clove cigarettes. Mike is addicted to Red Bull. Levi's girlfriend bakes. That leaves Joe again as the anomaly. Joe, are you sure you aren't hiding food somewhere?

Joe: Nothing. I'm clean.

Barney: Of course you are. We've got enough on you already. Murph, this will all have to be submitted to the lab. This is everyone's last chance to save us a lot of legwork. With poison, we're looking at premeditated murder, but it will go easier for you if you fess up now.

Murphy: Anyone?

Barney: Fine, if that's how it's going to be. Let's get ready to head downtown.

The 2ndSite Murder Mystery Theme which sounds like a Law & Order vs Psycho Remix plays as the faces and names of the cast and crew flash on the television screen. All actors are starring as "themselves".

Episode Eight

Barney: Fine, if that's how it's going to be. Let's get ready to head downtown.

Daniel: Wait!

All heads turn to look at Daniel.

Daniel: I can't take this any longer. I've got a confession to make. I know who murdered The Brand.

Everyone simultaneously: You do?!

Daniel: Yes... Yes, I do. I think it's important that you all come with me and take a look at this.

Daniel leads them out of the boardroom right to Jeff's cubicle.

Daniel: Look... under there. In his hockey bag.

Jeff: What the...??? Today's not even Wednesday. What's my hockey bag doing here?

Jeff starts to reach out for his hockey bag but Barney grabs a hold of him and restrains him.

Barney: Murph, check it out.

Murphy gets down on one knee and retrieves Jeff's hockey bag from under Jeff's desk. He reaches inside and pulls out a shin pad.

Murphy: Is this supposed to tell us something, Daniel?

Daniel: Check the end pocket.

Murphy unzips the end pocket of the bag and pulls out... a skate. He holds it up for Daniel and shoots him a look to let him know that he's losing his patience.

Daniel: The other end pocket.

Murphy pulls something out of the other end pocket and hands it to Barney.

Barney: <Inspecting the item in his hands> What... is it?

Daniel: The murder weapon, of course!

Jeff: Dude... that's no murder weapon. That's my skate lace tightener. Besides, The Brand was poisoned not... whatever you'd do with one of those.

Daniel: Oh... ya. <Beads of sweat start to form on Daniel's brow> Well, whaddaya know. I guess everyone is innocent. Back to work everyone <clap, clap>.

Mike: What's wrong with you, Daniel? You're acting a little weird. And just so you know... the only people that are allowed to clap people back to work in this place are me and Joe.

Joe: That's right. Now sit down and relax, Daniel. I think you need to take a load off your feet. <Motioning to Levi> Get him one of his clove cigarettes will ya? I think he keeps a stash in his bottom left drawer.

Daniel: NO! Er, I mean... no thanks. I'm okay. Really.

Daniel goes to stand up but Barney pats Daniel on the shoulder to sit him back down.

Barney: <Motioning to Murphy> Find his cigarettes.

Murphy leaves Jeff's cubicle area and goes to search Daniel's desk while the others wait for him to return.

Murphy: Barn! I think I've found something!

Everyone rushes to Daniel's desk except for Daniel who stays behind and starts tip-toeing towards the exit. Levi catches him in the act, grabs him by the scruff of the neck and brings him along as well.

Barney: Whatcha got?

Murphy: You're not going to believe this. I didn't find his cigarettes but I found something else. Seems like our little Daniel was telling the truth about one thing... he hated whenever the office got calls for the Second Sight Psychic Hotline...

Daniel: See! I told ya...

Murphy: But... not for the reason he wants us to believe. How do you explain this?!

Murphy produces a document of some sort. On it is written the following:

This certifies that
Daniel Tsang
is the owner of ten thousand (10,000)
fully paid and non-assessable shares of the common stock of
Second Sight Psychic Hotline Dot Com

Kathy: What does this mean?

Barney: It's elementary, my dear Kathy. It seems like your boy Daniel wanted The Brand dead after all. You see, every call that came in to your offices for Second Sight the Psychic Hotline hurt his bottom line. Sure, when Daniel answered the calls he did his best to re-direct them to the proper number. But anyone else that answered the phone wasn't as inclined to assist the caller as they didn't really see them the way that Daniel saw them... money in the bank.

Daniel: <Blurting out> All right! All right! I did it! Business at Second Sight Psychic Hotline was taking a turn for the worst... all because clientele kept confusing it with The Brand! When my dividend cheques from the Psychic Hotline were no longer supporting my gambling habits and expensive cigarettes I knew what I had to do. I had to get rid of The Brand. I wouldn't had to have taken such drastic measures if you all took two seconds of your time to give those calling in for the psychic hotline the right telephone number!! Was that too much to ask?!?!

Jeff: Dude... <matter of factly> Why didn't you just sell your shares and buy stock in another company?

Silence fills the air as the unmistakable look "why-the-hell-didn't-I-think-of-that" crosses Daniel's face. His body stiffens and only his eyes roll from one person to the next as he looks at each person in the room for just a split second. Everyone is looking at him with the same expression. An expression that he correctly interprets to be "ya-you-idiot-why-the-hell-didn't-you-think-of-that".

Daniel: <Throwing his face into his hands and again blurting out>...
I can't believe I killed the brand!! <Breaks into an uncontrollable sob.>

Mike: s...aaaand CUT! All right guys, that was great! Lunch is here so let's take a break and then we'll take it again from the top.

Everyone in the room breaks into self-appreciatory applause as the two extras, Barney and Murphy, straight head for the sandwich platter that's just arrived. Not far behind is The Brand who is being helped up off the floor by Mike. Joe, Levi and Jeff all head to the water cooler to discuss last night's sporting events while Kathy passes Daniel a tissue to wipe his ‘tears'.

Kathy: <Patting Daniel on the back> That was your best performance yet, Daniel. Good job!

Daniel: Thanks. I sure am gonna miss The Brand though. I can't believe they won't let him out of his jury duty. We need him. Our clients need him.

Kathy: That's the way things go. It's his civic duty. Who knew it would be such a high-profiled case he'd be thrown on though? Those can take months... even years! Besides, I'm excited about meeting The New Brand. <Looking left, looking right and then whispering> Rumour has it he's even better than our current Brand.

They both look over at the table that the sandwich platter is at. Barney and Murphy are sitting down and chatting about other extra work they've done in the past while The Brand is standing over the platter with a sandwich in both hands just munching away as if this was his last meal. In a way, it would be.

Daniel: I guess you're right. But how come I have to be the bad guy? Why couldn't it be one of them?

Daniel motions over to the water cooler. Mike has joined the others there. Someone has said something funny and they can all be seen laughing it up. Jeff and Levi high-five each other. Joe and Mike attempt a high-five that goes wrong as only their thumbs make contact and they both almost end up slapping the other in the face. More hysterics.

Kathy: We better discuss that thought over a sandwich before The Brand eats them all. But, who knows? Maybe they just wanted to pick the person who would seem to be least likely to do such a thing.

Daniel: Go on...

Kathy: Well, you're probably the shyest in the group. I guess their hope is that the readers would think that you just weren't capable of such a dastardly deed. <Places an arm over Daniel's shoulder and begins to lead him towards the platter.>

Daniel: <Voice deepens> Oh? Nooooo???

Daniel looks sideways directly into the camera. His normally brown eyes have turned into large yellow cat eyes. His glasses magnify them which makes the sight even more disturbing. Vincent Price's laugh can be heard as the theme from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" plays in the background.

<Screen fades to black.>

 

 

Episode Eight

By Mike - Apr 25/2006
2 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

The 2ndSite Brand has been murdered. All the staff members are under suspicion and are being questioned in the boardroom – the scene of the crime – by the police. It seems that everyone either has motive, or is too squeaky clean NOT to have a motive. No one's talking, though, so the cops are preparing to take the suspects downtown to the station for more "thorough questioning".

Murphy: Man you guys have a lot of pigeons on this building. Noisy birds. Somebody been feeding them?

Kathy: I have. Sometimes. I know they're pests but it's not their fault.

Murphy: Well go throw them some crumbs and get rid of them. They're driving me nuts. Forget it <as Kathy starts to get up>. I'll do it. Barn, we got enough of these for evidence, right? <Gesturing to the cookies>

Barney: More than enough. Throw til your heart's content. Levi, anything you want to say about your girlfriend's cookies before I chuck ‘em to the winged rats?

Levi: Uh, they're gingersnaps?

Murphy: Cool. I might have one. Or maybe I should try one of Jeff's instead? Wait a minute. Which ones are the ones we found in Jeff's knapsack and which are Levi's?

Levi: Those are mine, on the plate.

Murphy: You sure? I thought these were yours.

Levi: Nope, those are Jeff's. Uh, yeah, and they look like...

Joe: ...gingersnaps. They look like gingersnaps. Levi, are you sure your girlfriend baked those? They sure look like Jeff's.

Levi: Of course she did. She always makes me gingersnaps. They're my favourites.

Joe: I think you may want to reevaluate your relationship, at least on a culinary level. Unless Jeff's stealing your cookies.

Barney: Murph! We may have a cookie discrepancy here. <Picks up one cookie from each pile> Alright, we're going to feed some pidgies.

The room suddenly grows quiet. Heads turning back and forth between Jeff and Levi. Barney opens the window and clucks at the pigeons to come over. He slowly and methodically crumbles a cookie into his hand and gets ready to toss the crumbs.

Jeff: WAIT! Stop! Wait. <Everyone turns to look at Jeff> Those are poisoned.

Levi: WHAT?!?

Jeff: I poisoned the cookies. <Turns to Levi> Your girlfriend, by the way, is lying to you. Those are McFeeney's Gingersnaps. You can get them anywhere. She's playing you for a fool. <Turns to the team> You're all fools. I love the Brand but he's outlived his usefulness.

<Turns to Mike and Joe> Yes, you started this company with the Brand, but that's no reason to keep the Brand once you've been presented with solid business reasons to get rid of him. He served his purpose. He's done. I can't stand watching this anymore! Look, I want to show you something. <He jumps up, clearly preparing to leave the room>

Barney: Stop right there son.

Jeff: I won't leave the building. I admit what I've done. I just want to show you why I did it. The Brand's not dead. He's... <Jeff runs out of the room, returning seconds later with a briefcase under his arm> He's been transformed. Look!! <He says, light shining out of the opening brief case>I made it. It's... it's...

Mike: <in awe> it's ...

Joe: <stunned> beautiful. It's beautiful.

Jeff: It's vibrant. It's new. It's what we're all about. It's the right word in the right place. Our new Brand. The Brand's not dead, he's changed form. And I made it. And it was worth it.

Kathy: You could have killed us.

Jeff: Well, sometimes you just gotta break a few eggs.

Same company, same service – New Brand

Read the winning alternative ending by Mike Petinarelis

 

 

Episode Seven

By Mike - Mar 28/2006
6 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

Joe is under scrutiny. His blind devotion to the Brand makes him suspect. Everyone's exhausted, including the cops. The Brand has finally been taken away. Only his silhouette remains, in white chalk, on the carpet. The book is still lying on the floor, next to the outline of his hand. The boardroom table is festooned with knapsack, pocket and purse contents.

The Boardroom, Hour Four.

Murphy: So let's go through this one more time.

Barney: Must we? I'm thinking we should just haul the whole lot of them in and let them sit in stir a few days. Maybe feed them their own coffee, cookies and cigarettes. That should do it.

Murphy: Barney, c'mon. Don't be that way. Remember your blood pressure.

Barney: Alright, let's get through this. You, you and you <indicating Jeff, Joe, and Mike> loved the Brand and would never hurt him. You, you and you <pointing to Levi, Kathy, and Daniel> hated him. Motive exists for all of you. Mike, Joe and Daniel left the room at some point. Each of you has some sort of piece of circumstantial evidence to their credit. We've got a real mess on our hands. Murph, I think we should just draw names and do this on a lottery system. The place is crawling with everyone's prints. We really don't have much to go on unless the killer, who I'll assume is sitting in this room, is getting nervous that we know more than we're letting on and we're just toying with them.

Murphy: <under his breath> Don't we wish.

Barney: Let's go back to the evidence table. It seems all of you are orally fixated, so I can't say I'm surprised poison was the method. Kathy, you have a dizzying array of tupperware in your purse. Jeff seems to hoard cookies. Daniel smokes clove cigarettes. Mike is addicted to Red Bull. Levi's girlfriend bakes. That leaves Joe again as the anomaly. Joe, are you sure you aren't hiding food somewhere?

Joe: Nothing. I'm clean.

Barney: Of course you are. We've got enough on you already. Murph, this will all have to be submitted to the lab. This is everyone's last chance to save us a lot of legwork. With poison, we're looking at premeditated murder, but it will go easier for you if you fess up now.

Murphy: Anyone?

<The room is silent, but for the cooing of pigeons outside the boardroom windows.>

Barney: Fine, if that's how it's going to be. Let's get ready to head downtown.

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 8

 

 

Episode Six

By Mike - Mar 21/2006
1 Comment | Posted in: Episodes

To recap: The team has been asked to turn out their pockets, bags, briefcases and knapsacks. It's been revealed that Daniel is a compulsive gambler, something which the Brand knew and held over him. Kathy admits to reading The Young Poisoner's Handbook. The questioning of the team's motive and alibis is now in progress. Joe continues to defend the Brand.

The Boardroom:

Murphy: I find it interesting, Joe. That you're so keen on defending the Brand. Methinks you doth protest too much.

Joe: What do you mean? I think the Brand made perfect sense.

Daniel: How can you think that? He clearly had a bad URL. NO ONE has a dot-biz. It's embarrassing. Makes us look fly-by-night.

Joe: Well, we managed to find some 46,000 clients despite that.

Kathy: Listen Joe, just how many more do you think we might have had, if the Brand's name had at least been spelled correctly? No one wants to type in a site with letters and numbers. It's irritating.

Joe: Kathy, I don't know how you can say that. Look at all he's done for us! <Joe starts turning red... clearly hot under the collar>.

Daniel: Well, he's done us a big favour now, hasn't he? Finally we can move on and get rid of the crystal ball afterlife calls.

<The tension is palpable as the volume of voices starts to rise.>

Joe: Take that back! You have no idea what you're talking about.

Levi: Joe, you're not talking sense. The name doesn't work. It doesn't say what we do. It's too obtuse! You and Mike had a great idea but your inside lingo doesn't cut it in the business world. Every time you say the company's name, you or Mike have to qualify it with "you know, a company's second site." It simply doesn't work!

Murphy: I dunno Joe, they're starting to convince even me.

Joe: Well they're not convincing me! In fact, they're just reminding me even more why the Brand was great. Dot-biz and numbers in the URL notwithstanding, we built a solid business and all we have to do to wreck it is start fixing what isn't broken.

Levi: You're only allowed one cliché here Joe. Make it count. It is broken, we have to fix it. Can you see we're getting calls for tarot card readings? That people can't remember our name?

Kathy: That they have to try a couple of spellings before they find our site?

Joe: Just think about what you're saying! The work involved in changing everything. We've got a good thing going. We have a loyal customer base, a fabulous product. We don't need to change the Brand!

Murphy: Everyone calm down. Joe, all of this is touching, but before you get all dewy-eyed I have to remind you that the reason we're all here is that someone murdered the Brand. And frankly you're just so darned squeaky clean and innocent that it's tripping all the alarms bells.

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 7

 

 

Episode Five

By Mike - Mar 14/2006
2 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

The Boardroom:

Back in the boardroom, the 2ndSite team is sitting at the table. Two police officers, Barney and Murphy, are carrying out the interrogations. Jeff's turned-out knapsack is on the desk. Kathy is preparing to empty her purse onto the table. Cop photographers are in the room snapping pictures.

Barney: Joy. We're finally all here together. Thank you, Mike, for joining us this morning. Murph, I was just talking to the Cookie Monster here.

Mike: Cookie Monster? Jeff, since when did you eat junk food? <facing the officers> He never eats junk food. No one ever sees him eat.

Kathy: That's what we were just saying.

Barney: Hello? <snapping his fingers> Anyone? Everyone? Can we get started? Let me explain the drill. I ask the questions here. Officer Murphy bonds to get more out of you. Murderer gets caught out in some painfully obvious lie, and life resumes, except, of course, for the Brand.

Murphy: Barney, their colleague's been killed, show a little more compassion.

Barney: Rrrrriiiight. Now you've been quiet <pointing to Levi>. What's your story? You hated the Brand.

Levi: I didn't hate him. I just hated that his URL was all wrong and his name didn't really suggest what we do.

Daniel: Right. We get calls all the time for a psychic hotline.

Barney: Aren't you keen to talk, Daniel. Now if I recall, you didn't like him much either.

Daniel: Well, he could be difficult.

Barney: He had something over you, didn't he?

Murphy: Gambling. Daniel's a gambler. Aren't you, son?

Daniel: <hanging his head in shame> He knew I gambled. I admit it, I'm sick. I need help.

Barney: Save it for your intervention. So you gamble, you hate the Brand's.... what was that again?

Daniel: His dot-biz. I hated that his URL was http://www.secondsite.biz. We didn't know better at the time. Everyone was getting dot-biz's. Now it's just embarrassing. But I didn't do it.

Barney: Of course. <looks disgusted as Murphy gives Daniel a hug> And you, Blondie <Kathy offers her best smile>. What's your story? Seems you have a bit of memory-block.

Kathy: <Smile crumbles> Ok. I admit that I was embarrassed to be reading the book. But I didn't poison the Brand. I confess, sometimes I just like to wallow a bit, literarily-speaking. And I definitely didn't put the book in near the coffee, as Levi seems to want to suggest.

Levi: Well it was near the coffee. I went in to pick up the cookies I brought yesterday and I saw it there. And someone had already been nibbling at the cookies because there were crumbs everywhere. I guess we know it's not Jeff.

Barney: And you, Joe. You're a good guy right. Love the Brand. All is well in the cosmos.

Joe: Pretty much. We started this...

Barney: Save it. You and Mike started out with this Brand. It's worked for you. Blah blah blah. Right?

Joe: Right. Why panic our clients by looking unstable? It just doesn't make good business sense.

Barney: No, of course not. But it does make good criminal sense for you to stick by the Brand and bump him off in private.

Murphy: <laughing> Good one, Barn. Even I can't fight that one.

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 6

 

 

Episode Four

By Mike - Mar 7/2006
2 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

Previously, Officer Barney began interviewing the team and punching holes in their alibis, while Officer Murphy sought out Mike who'd left the Boardroom rather hastily and still had not returned. Barney noted that no one drank Kathy's coffee, ate Levi's cookies or smoked Daniel's cigarettes except for the 2ndSite Brand. He further observed that Joe had been the first to leave the Boardroom after the Brand left, ostensibly to check his email.

Mike's Office

Murphy: You there. You're Mike right.

Murphy had swung the door open without bothering to knock. Mike was caught mid-gulp. He choked and coughed Red Bull out his nose.

Mike: Oh, Of-f-ficer. Hello. I was just coming to join you.

Murphy: Looks like you got a bit of a secret stash there, Mike. <gestures at the Red Bull tower Mike had built on his desk>. Well done. Very post-modern. I take it nobody else knows?

Mike: Nobody. And officer...

Murphy: I know I know, you'd really appreciate my not saying anything to the team.

Mike: Right. That would be great. Listen Officer, I'm fully willing to help in any way I can. I think we don't need to share this with anyone here. It serves no purpose.

Murphy: Sure, I can understand that. You're just a little stressed and need a pick-me-up.

Mike: Right. Exactly. It's been a terrible morning.

Murphy: Of course it has. So all this is irrelevant unless you just happen to be guilty and want to enhance the adrenaline rush one gets after committing a murder.

Mike: Me? Murder the Brand? I loved him. Joe and I built him up from nothing. Jeff spent hours designing his look. He was everything to us. To me. Everything to me.

Murphy: Sure he was. And you know, in the boardroom everyone else is going to be singing the same song about how much they loved the Brand. <pauses, hearing Mike mutter something but not sure what>. Sorry, I didn't catch that.

Mike: I said not everyone loved the Brand. That's how this mess started. We were fighting about the Brand. Some of the team wanted to change him. He got upset and left. The rest you know.

Murphy: I see. Very interesting. Everyone hated him but you, of course, and ...?

Mike: Joe. And Jeff. The rest were out to change him. To... to...

Murphy: To destroy him? Maybe?

Mike: That's right. To destroy him. To kill him, at least figuratively. Kathy hated the way we spelled his name. Daniel complained about all the calls for the Second Sight Psychic Hotline.

Murphy: Of course. Well done. No motive. You're an angel and you just happen to know at least three people to take the fall for you. Pardon my sneer but case you haven't figured it out, I'm the bad cop for today. Barney and I take turns. <pauses> Now wait a minute. Is it the 6th today?

Mike: No, I think it's the seventh.

Murphy: My bad. I'm the good cop today. Alright, so you three loved the Brand, the other three hated him. That's a tidy mess. Tell you what. Finish your Red Bull and we'll clean this place up and join the others in the boardroom and see if we can't get through this. <pats him on the back in a male-bonding kind of way>

Mike: Thank you officer. Thank you.

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 5

 

 

Brand Murder Blog Now Live

By Mike - Feb 28/2006
Add your comment | Posted in: News/Updates

Just a quick note to let you know the Brand Murder blog is now live. You can find it here:

http://www.brandmurder.com/blog/

Sorry for any inconveniences (read repeat postings) your RSS feed may have suffered during these first few days of the Brand Murder Mystery, and now that we have the kinks worked out, we hope you will choose to stick with us over the next few weeks as the story continues to evolve.  This thing really is a live experiment and we confident there will be lots you can learn about branding and internet marketing as things unfold.  Thanks for getting involved till this point and please feel free to mention Brand Murder to your friends!

 

 

Episode Three

By Mike - Feb 28/2006
4 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

In the last episode, the 2ndSite Brand died, clutched in his hand a copy of The Young Poisoner's Handbook which appeared to belong to Kathy. The police were called in. Michael fled the Boardroom, remembering some important thing he needed to do before the police arrive. Officers Barney and Murphy arrived to question the team.

Back in the Boardroom

Barney: So let's go through this again. He <pointing to the now obviously dead Brand> leaves in the middle of your Monthly Sales Meeting. You leave to....

Joe: Do my email.

Barney: Right. Your email. How long are you gone?

Joe: Maybe ten minutes? I could check by looking at my emails. You know, times sent and all that.

Barney: Right. That means not much of anything though does it? No one saw you?

Joe: No.

Barney: And you weren't on the phone? No phone records to verify that you were definitely not with the Brand when all this started.

Joe: My emails...

Barney: Servers the way they are, that means nothing. You could have pressed "send" but there might be a delay. You easily could have written a few emails to cover for yourself, then stepped away. Ok. Now you! <points at Kathy>

Kathy: I was here all the time.

Barney: Did you drink any of the coffee, Ms Young Poisoner's Handbook?

Kathy: No, I didn't. But nobody did. Not just me.

Barney: Interesting. Mind telling me why?

Kathy: We just didn't get around to drinking any.

Barney: But the Brand did, didn't he? Well, we'll be having a look at the coffee so you might want to start reconsidering your story. All this could be over pretty quickly if a lab test comes back positive for anything other than Juan Valdez's finest.

Kathy: It's just coffee. I swear it.

Barney: Well, you might want to be starting on your alibi all the same. In fact, you all better start thinking about where you've been, what you've been doing, for how long and when and why and with whom because no one leaves until we get to the bottom of this. I'm convinced the killer's here, the weapon or poison or whatever is close at hand. All we need is motive and judging by your faces, I'd say you are all a pretty guilty looking lot. So why don't you all take a seat, maybe we'll send out for coffee, and have us a nice little talk as soon as Murphy returns with the rest of you.

Earlier That Morning...

Jeff was in heaven. Deep in the darkest recesses of the software cabinet, Jeff reached in to find something he'd hidden only yesterday. There. Still there. Safe. Comforting to know that the most obvious place in the office was still the safest. Didn't anyone watch old movies? He cleared out the stash and wiped his hands clean.

Present Day And Time

Barney: So you've been here how long?

Jeff: A few years. Not really sure.

Levi: Three and a half. He's been here three and a half years.

Barney: Happy here?

Jeff: Sure. Nice place. Nice people. <visibly agitated> Listen, I didn't do it. I was here the whole time. I didn't leave the room. Joe, Mike and Daniel did. I could never kill anyone, much less the Brand. I loved him. It was me who spent countless hours on his look.

Barney: In all my years on homicide I've yet to meet someone who's said they could. So spare me by not answering questions I haven't asked.

Barney: And you <gesturing at Daniel>. These yours? <holding the cigarettes>

Daniel: They are. Go ahead and have one officer.

Barney: I wasn't asking to have one. I just want to make sure they're labeled correctly when we bag ‘em for evidence.

Daniel: Evidence? My cigarettes? They're just clove. I swear it. I've been trying to quit.

Barney: Relax. This is homicide not narcotics.

Daniel: <laughing nervously but obviously relieved> Of course. Well, uh, have one anyway Officer. They're very nice. Good aroma, no nicotine. Refreshing, I think, uh, you'd say. Yes, go ahead.

Barney: Calm down, laughing boy, and have a seat. And you, <gesturing to Levi> what's your story? You seem fairly composed. That's always a mistake when there's a murderer in the room.

Levi: My conscience is clear.

Barney: Really? How nice for you. Now am I mistaken in noting that none here seem to be mourning overmuch?

Jeff: I am. I loved the Brand.

Barney: Then maybe you'll want to be the first to empty your pockets.

Jeff: My what?

Barney: Your pockets. And while we're at it, let's go for the knapsack. The question was just a cunning ruse to see who's eager. Usually a murderer wants to say something. That's why they kill people. You seem up for the task. Let's see what cards you're holding. Oh, and in case you folks haven't figured it out, I'm the "bad cop" and Murphy's the so-called good cop, we're on a two-day rotation. Alright Jeff, let's see those pockets and the inside of that bag.

Jeff: Don't I get a lawyer or something first?

Barney: Is this America? In case you're feeling muddled, the answer's "no." Let's see what you got.

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 4

 

 

Podcast Episode Two - The Coming of the New Brand

By Mike - Feb 23/2006
Add your comment | Posted in: Podcasts

In the second Brand Murder Mystery podcast we talk about the process behind coming up with a new brand name.

Click here to download the second podcast (episode 2).

For example, some of the concepts we wrestled with include: should the new name communicate the category (online billing), our difference (fast, easy to use), or a benefit (get paid faster)? Should it be a name that doesn’t really signify anything, that we can give our own meaning to (think HaagenDas, Oreo, Pringles)? (I’m hungry.) How many syllables should the new name have?

All this, the latest stats, and more, including a great fun fact. Happy listening!

If you missed the first podcast, you can download it here (episode 1).

 

 

Episode Two

By Mike - Feb 21/2006
7 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

In the last episode, the Monthly Sales meeting went horribly wrong, leaving the 2ndSite Brand dead, frothing at the mouth, clutching a copy of The Young Poisoner's Handbook. The lines have been drawn: those who loved the Brand (Mike, Joe, Jeff), those who wanted him gone (Kathy, Levi, Daniel). A murderer lurks in the Boardroom at 2ndSite. The Brand has been poisoned but who did it? And why?

Present Time: The Boardroom

The Brand is lying in a crumpled heap on the floor. Not moving. His icy hand is gripping a copy of The Young Poisoner’s Handbook.

Joe: Dead? He’s been murdered!

Jeff: Make sure he’s dead.

Joe: Make sure he’s dead? He was frothing at the mouth for God’s sake! He must have been poisoned.

Enter Daniel, running with a phone in his hand, clearly talking to Emergency Services

Daniel: Yes, that’s right. Someone’s killed our Brand. We think he’s been poisoned but we can’t tell for sure.

Levi: Say Kathy, isn’t that the book you were reading?

Kathy: What book?

The room quiets down. Daniel lowers the phone a moment before continuing with 9-1-1.

Levi: That book. Poisoning for Dummies or something like that. Sure, this is yours. You’ve got your name written in marker on the bottom edges.

Kathy: <looking nervous> It must be some other Kathy. I have an English degree. I sincerely doubt I’d read such a piece of trash.

Levi: How many Kathy Donoghue’s can there be in this office of six? I mean, you’re not only the only Kathy Donoghue, you’re the only woman. This has got to be your book.

Mike: The Young Poisoner’s Handbook?

Kathy: <very defensive> It was a Christmas present. I never even read it. I don’t know where he found it.

Jeff: I do. <Heads turn> It was in the kitchen cupboard next to the coffee. I noticed it this morning. I remember thinking what an odd place it was for a book, much less that one.

Kathy: I didn’t put it there. I don't even remember having it.

Jeff: <bending down to pry the book from the Brand’s swiftly cooling hand> Didn’t you just say you got it for Christmas? Be that as it may, I see there’s a bus transfer caught in the middle of it. Looks like your bus no less. And dated today.

Kathy: <gives a nervous laugh> Oh. That book. Of course. Now I remember…

That Previous Night

Daniel was in the office late, as usual. He preferred the quiet time between 2 and 5 am. It allowed him the peace and privacy he needed to do what he considered his real work. In fact, he mused, he really had two jobs. The day job, which was murder, the night job, which was killing him. Either way, he lost.

Present Time: The Boardroom

Daniel: They’re on their way.

Already sirens could be heard as Daniel said this. Mike looked over his shoulder then darted off in the direction of his office shouting,

Mike: Jeff, get ready to buzz them in! I’ve just got to get something from my office!

Mike ran into his office, shutting the door quickly behind him, patting the bulge in his jacket pocket. His heart was pounding. It was now or never. Should he? Should he? The heck with it. He should. No better time than now. Just better be quick about it.

That Previous Weekend…

Someone was onto him; of that much Mike was sure. He could see his desk had been searched. He always kept the drawers tightly closed. It was a matter of pride to him. Cluttered mind, uncluttered office. He couldn’t think in a messy office. He needed tidy edges and white space. No, someone had definitely been in here. Had they found his secret? And crumbs? Were those crumbs on his desk? Well that’s no use to him. Can’t dust for fingerprints on crumbs.

Present Time: The Boardroom

Daniel thought a moment and hurried to his desk as well, remembering something still up on his computer from the night before (or more accurately the morning) that he really would rather not have anyone see.

Joe: <Calling after Daniel> Where the hell are you going?

Daniel: Be right back.

Joe: Kathy, follow him. Everyone else stay put! Someone’s responsible and nobody leaves this room until we find out who it is.

Kathy starts to leave the room but the door is blocked: two firemen and two police officers have entered the room.

Officer: I think that’s my decision but you’re right. Nobody but nobody leaves this office. Murphy, round everybody up. <Officer named Murphy, tall burly man entirely devoid of neck, with hands like hockey gloves, leaves the room>

Murphy: Right on it Barney.

Barney is the physical opposite to Murphy: small and wiry, facially not unlike a ferret.

Outside, in the office area

Murphy: <calling to Daniel> You there! We’re all coming back to the boardroom!

Daniel stands up quickly and blocks the screen with his torso.

Daniel: I’ll be right there officer. Just a moment and I’m done.

Murphy: You’re done now. What are you doing that can be more important than solving a murder? Maybe you want to explain that? No, save it til we get back. We probably should all hear this. <leans in to grab Daniel’s arm and get a good peak at the screen> Oh. So that’s how it is? Very interesting. Very interesting indeed. I think you might have a lot of explaining to do Mister.

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 3

 

 

Podcast Episode One - Why are you Murdering Your Brand?

By Mike - Feb 17/2006
Add your comment | Posted in: Podcasts

Here is our first in a series of podcasts that will accompany the brand murder mystery.

Click here to download the podcast (episode 1).

These podcasts will be interesting because this whole thing is literally evolving right before our eyes. For example, we decided to do this on Feb 2 and released it on Feb 14. No doubt we will have useful ideas that bubble up between now and the completion. For example Daniel just said, "We should make the podcast more exciting by telling people we want to get 1000 email signups and 1000 RSS feed signups before we're done". Great idea Daniel, let's do it! So, we want to get 1000 email signups and 1000 RSS feed signups before we're done. We are currently at 36 feeds and 60 email sign ups. If you can, please help.

You can Digg Brand Murder here.

You can bookmark Brand Murder in del.icio.us here.

I think these podcasts will be interesting because they will constitute a live record of a very organic campaign. The campaign is founded in sound business principles which we will share in the podcasts. Things like, "why are you doing this?" Answer: "re-branding is costly on a number of levels. We're trying to mitigate those costs". The podcasts will also include:

- an account of our progress (we spoke to a reporter Wednesday)
- the legal issues surrounding online contests
- the tools we use to create and track the campaign so you can try it - or at least understand it

... and of course, much much more.

We will keep them brief and I think there will be some useful hype such as, a strategic approach to selecting a new name and how we did it.

Quick Contest leaders Update

http://www.coudal.com is in the lead for the most referral traffic, but we were just Digged.

We hope you Stay Tuned for more!

 

 

Episode One

By Mike - Feb 14/2006
15 Comments | Posted in: Episodes

You can find a permenant link to Episode One here.

In short, it was a miserable Monday morning. The 2ndSite team is gathering like the storm clouds outside.

The Scene: The Monthly Sales Meeting in the 2ndSite Boardroom
Present: Mike, Joe, Kathy, Daniel, Levi, Jeff and of course, the Brand

Mike, the Co-Founder and CEO of 2ndSite, raises his lean lanky frame from the overstuffed leather boardroom chair. For a moment he is reminiscent of young Donald Trump (without the bad hair) who started corporations and had a mean backswing. The moment passed and suddenly Mike was back to present: overworked, exhausted, yet still passionate about his business. He was all business all the time, yet still kept a six-string Yamaha in the closet of his office.

Mike: Kathy, could you please take minutes?

Detailed-oriented Kathy glares her reply, yet elegantly extracts a Staedtler Mars Lumograph 0.3mm Sky Blue pen (SKU 389754-G) from her writing kit, knowing full well that Mike will never read the minutes. He'll already be onto conjuring the next million-dollar idea that strikes his fancy. Sure sure, he was a brilliant Visionary, but when it came to the day-to-day minutiae of running a profitable business, Kathy knew this would all fall to her once again.

Straggling in is the rest of the team. They take their seats in groups: Kathy, Daniel and Levi on one side of the wide mahogany table. Mike, Joe and Jeff on the other. The Brand is nowhere to be seen.

Mike looks around the room, taking in the scene, noting as he did so that once again his Web Designer and Developer, Daniel, looked as though he'd slept in his clothes. Mike pats the bulge in his jacket pocket. Later , he thought to himself. Not now. Later. No witnesses. This is just between me and….

Levi enters, carrying a large silvery tin.

Levi: My girlfriend made cookies. Anybody want one?

Levi passes the cookies around the table, pleased that the team all took him up on the offer, except, of course, Jeff. Jeff never took anyone's offerings.

The Brand swaggers in late, humming a tuneless ditty. He takes the seat at the head of the table, or rather, stands behind it.

Brand: Good morning all. Mike? A bit early in the morning for the sales meeting, wouldn't you say?

The Brand is cocksure and full of bravado. Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, which is just as well, as it was busy puffing on a clove cigarette. The Brand takes up the coffee Kathy passes him. He places the hot cup directly on the table, using the saucer to ash his cigarette. Mike cringes but refuses to remedy the situation. Perhaps Lemon Pledge will fix the cup mark.

Brand: Mike? gesturing with the cigarette Hello? Good morning? What gives? Anyone got anything to say or can I go back to doing what I do best?

Joe: Brand. Why don't you take a seat?

Brand: I'd rather stand, thanks all the same, Joey.

Joe, the co-Founder of 2ndSite, smiles wryly, letting the name pass. There were more important things to focus on , thought the devilishly handsome CTO and Chief Architect. He didn't get this far by chasing butterflies or every mundane little annoyance that came his way. Hard work and commitment to the project at hand were what worked best for Joe.

Mike: Alright, let's get to it. As you can see distributes copies of a report, we're down once again this quarter. Anyone care to comment? Daniel, I noticed we're still getting a fair number of sales calls, what's the lay of the land?

Daniel: Well Mike, we had 217 calls last month.

Mike: What seems to be the problem?

Daniel: No problem as such. As you can see, some 188 of the calls are for a psychic hotline: Second Sight .

The team murmurs their assurance that this is so.

Levi: Brand… Mike… I know some of us have been thinking…

Brand: chuckling and wagging his finger Now Levi, you've been warned about that. Hasn't he Joe? Daniel, I'm out of smokes. Why don't you be a good guy and go get me some?

Daniel hops up and is out the door, returning not a minute later, tossing Brand an already opened pack.

Brand: They're selling them pre-opened are they?

Daniel: My pack. Take ‘em.

Levi: … anyway, we've been thinking that it's time to change our Brand.

Brand: I don't think I got that Levi. Nice cookies, by the way. Give your honey a squeeze for me. No wait, I'll do it myself gestures inappropriately. Sorry, I wasn't really listening to you. Did you say ‘change the brand'?

Kathy: Well Brand, maybe I can step in here. We, that is, the team, no, some of the team think the Brand may have run its course. Mike, can we open this up to discussion?

Mike catches the Brand's eye and shakes his head as if to say humour her , then nods at Kathy.

Kathy: Look Brand, your name is grammatically incorrect with its combination of letters and numerals and, well, you're just no fun anymore. It's not the same. The company has grown. We've changed. You're keeping us back.

Levi: And your URL doesn't match your name. You're not descriptive enough.

Kathy: Right.

Levi: And let's face it, no one really knows what we do. There's a lot of time and money invested in you, Brand; yet our clients just aren't really sure where you're coming from.

Levi sits back and stretches. The CIO and VP of Operations was not known for making such long speeches in front of the team. He was known for his quiet nature, coming to life for Client Relationship Management, generally leaving the team to their own devices. And he liked this distance the team gave him in return. He was a man who needed privacy… more than most.

Brand: Levi, Levi, Levi. Such a long speech. Been saving up a few days, have you? Daniel, do you have something to add to this, or do you maybe need to get back to your computer urgently for whatever it is you do when no one seems to be noticing?

Daniel: Huh? No. I've got nowhere to be but here. But as long as the knives are out, let me just say this one thing …

Brand: Go on. Looks like something's eating you.

Daniel: Fine. Alright. Here it is: I hate your dot-biz.

Brand looks around the table as half the team, unconsciously, is nodding in time.

Brand: Say that again.

Daniel: I … hate…your … dot … biz.

Brand: Jeff? What about you? Still fond of the old Brand?

Jeff, 2ndSite's Web Designer and Developer, was largely responsible for the visual sensibility of the Brand. Back in the earliest days of the Brand's inception, Jeff spent countless midnight hours tweaking pixels without complaint. He loved the Brand.

Jeff: Yeah, I think you're just fine.

Brand: Well thank God there's one of you. Mike, can you believe your ears?

Mike: Well Brand, you know we have an open door policy here at 2ndSite and I think it's worth hearing them out. But you realize, Levi, Kathy, Daniel visibly agitated, Mike points at each as he says their names, we've come this far on the Brand. I'm not sure it makes good business sense to throw this all away.

Joe: And confuse our clients.

Mike: Right, confuse our clients. Make the company look unstable. Listen, this is not the time to discuss changing the Brand.

Kathy: We knew you'd say that. But what better time than when the Brand is clearly showing itself to be no longer a viable entity?

Brand: Mike? Joe? Are you hearing this garbage? What do you have to say about it?

Mike: Going white about the mouth Alright team. I think that's about enough! He becomes louder, more vehement We may have an open door policy here but there's nothing in the book that says ganging up on the Brand is part of it !

Joe: face growing redder by the moment Listen, obviously no one appreciates just what this Brand has done for us. No has any understanding of what your proposing would cost us. DANIEL! Sit down!

Daniel, looking guilty, returns to his seat. He reaches for a cookie with a trembling hand then clearly thinks better of it and retreats.

Brand: You know, I'm going to walk out of this boardroom, take a bio break, and when I come back and we'll start again like this didn't happen. Why don't you all listen to Mike, Joe and Jeff and forget this crap that popped into your tiny brains this morning. I don't know what Kathy put in the coffee but it's making you all act like you think you have a clue. Well here's the 411 on that. You don't. I put you where you are today. I am this company. So while I'm gone why don't all of you try to remember that?

The Brand takes a final sip of his coffee, picks up another cookie and grabs the WSJ on the credenza.

Levi: Brand! Come back here. Let's discuss this.

Brand: End. butts out his cigarette into the table, punctuating each word Of. Discussion.

And leaves, slamming the door behind him.

Joe pushes his chair away from the table and stands.

Joe: Well I'm not going to sit here waiting for the Brand's standard twenty-minute bio break. I'm going to check my email. Jeff? Come get me when he's back.

Minutes pass and the tension in the room grows thicker than a London fog as Mike continues to wax eloquent about why the Brand should remain the Brand. Finally, even he cannot stand the tension and he sits, looking at his nails for a minute or two before leaping up.

Mike: This is taking too long. I'm going out to check on him. Mike leaves, looking perturbed

The team sits looking at each other and tries to fill the room with innocent chat to ease the strain.

Levi: Anyone want a cookie? They're really good. She uses only organic ingredients.

Kathy: Coffee? Tea?

Daniel and Jeff shake their heads no. The minutes build. When out of the blue, a scream ruptures the silence. Running feet are heard and the door swings open. The Brand literally tumbles into the room, clearly distressing, clutching his throat with one hand, a copy of The Young Poisoner's Handbook in the other. Frothing at the mouth, the Brand collapses with a solid THUD! and is entirely motionless. Following close behind is Mike, then Joe.

Mike: Call 911!! Call 911!

Levi bends down to examine the Brand while Daniel, tears already in his eyes, runs to the phone. Levi checks for vital signs but is grim.

Levi: Forget him standing up. He's dead.

Joe: Dead? He's been … murdered !

STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 2

 

 
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