Brand X : The Boyfriend Account

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  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2006-10-10
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Landing an internship at an ad agency isn't what her principal or her mother wanted for Jordie Popkin, aspiring journalist. At sixteen, Jordie is glad of the chance to collect "real world" experience and finds working with the "creatives" at the agency a nice break from her math and science curriculum. And the team likes Jordie, too. When her new colleagues decide to make Jordie's business their business, Jordie is flattered but skeptical. They will come up with a plan to market Jordie to the hottest guy in her grade. From situation analysis to "sex sells," the team assures Jordie that they know what they're doing. She shouldn't get upset if their ideas cause her an embarassing moment or two. Jordie knows that the course of true love never did run smooth and that the ad game isn't a simple set of rules to follow but she can't help wondering about the advantages of letting professionals try to turn her from Brand X into a hot item. The principles of marketing might apply to a bar of soap, but finding the right guy...? In this humorous novel, Laurie Gwen Shapiro reveals with candor how one girl who feels like "Brand X" not only learns the secret of a successful marketing campaign but also discovers how to assess her true market value to become the brand of choice. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

Laurie Gwen Shapiro is the author of three highly-praised novels for adults. She co directed the documentary Keep the River on Your Right, for which she received a televised Independent Spirit Award from one of her favorite actors, Dennis Hopper, but unfortunately in a state of shock forgot to thank everybody, even her mother.

She lives in New York City, her hometown, with Australian musician husband Paul, and their vary musical daughter Violet.

From the Hardcover edition.


1. Wipe the Slate Clean

This is the most important rule of marketing. Before any big project begins, free the brain. Go for a walk or run. (It doesn’t have to be down Madison Avenue.) Relax however you do that. (Don’t start e-mailing him mushy notes.) You’re not ready for any action yet. Relax, and get ready to focus. Now, focus.

All of a sudden I heard thunder. I ran for 179 Spring Street before the brewing storm hit my few feet of lower Manhattan.

I pushed open the filthy doors and the lobby was not so great. Right next to the scratched elevator was a garbage can that desperately needed to be emptied. My face was still wet with rain as I checked the slip of paper again to be sure I had the right address for the ad agency.

How could this building possibly be where a fancy ad agency was located? My father loves telling our out-of-town relatives on his embarrassingly braggy tours of New York City that the reason so many Manhattan lobbies are grubby is to trick robbers into thinking that there’s no plush furniture and pricey electronics upstairs.

The door to suite 3B was held ajar by a glittery rubber stopper, a small thing, but such a funky thing that it gave me hope. On the side of the white door, the words out of the box were stenciled in green. Nobody answered when I knocked, so I let myself in.

How cool was this reception area? The nearest walls were candy-box red and the ones opposite a lemony yellow. Over the unmanned reception desk was an enormous painting of a multicolored lollipop that was actually spinning around because of some unseen mechanism. On the opposite wall above the red velvety couch was a cartoony Dalmatian painting. The two chairs on either side of the couch were upholstered in velvet, the purple of royal capes. Somehow the freaky decor hung together perfectly, like the eye-popping design of the week on one of those strangely addictive cable decorating shows with a bubblehead hostess.

“Hello?” I called out softly and a bit nervously. No answer. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I noticed the vintage children’s toys on the long glass table in front of the couch. I picked up a red plastic whistle shaped like a fish and put it back down. Maybe if I waited for a minute, the receptionist would come back. I decided that I definitely had the wrong outfit on for this interview. At my school internship coordinator’s suggestion, I’d put my beloved jeans aside for the morning and played it safe with a button-down shirt and a pleated black skirt.

“Hello?” I said much louder.

Maybe the entire staff of the ad agency was in an unexpected board meeting and forgot about the high school kid hoping to work there for school credit five half days a week. I peered into a few open offices down the long corridor. If I saw anyone, I’d just nicely remind them that the kid was here, that’s all. One room had a long shelf covered with a Pez dispenser collection–there were Snoopy and Bart Simpson and Humpty Dumpty heads crowning those familiar long rectangular Pez bodies. In the same room there was a rack of dress-up hats like in my little cousin’s preschool. Except the fireman’s hat and the white puffy chef’s hat and the princess cone were adult-sized.

The kitchen area, which I found next, was empty too. But the items on a little round table made me laugh. Next to an open tin of orange and black sugar cookies—shaped like ghosts, pumpkins, and witches—was a plastic toddlers’ cow barn with a tin roof and rooster weathervane, complete with plastic grain in the attached silo. I snuck myself a ghost cookie. The lights were on in Out of the Box, but someone must have forgotten to turn them off. Someone could have just been playing with the barn—the two pigs were placed right up next to the pig trough.

I grabbed a paper cone from the watercooler. I hadn’t had anything to drink since homeroom, when I had my usual carton of pineapple-strawberry-orange juice.

“Well, well, well, looks like we have a visitor.”

I almost spat out the water. A short man with a thin, wiry body and one of those hipster goatees (that look like a bit of chin dirt) had mysteriously appeared in the doorway. I crumpled the incriminating paper cup into my skirt pocket and quickly wiped off the sugary white crumbs.

“You must be our internship candidate, yes?”

“Yes,” I said softly. At that moment I heard more muted voices from another room.

“We didn’t hear you come in. So sorry about that. It’s a staff holiday here, you see. It’s the company president’s birthday, so my team snuck into his office to see if we could have more ideas sitting in leather chairs.”

“You’re here even though it’s a vacation day?” I’d never actually been on a big interview before. Why did I ask that?

He smiled warmly. “Our lot is not allowed to holiday right now—we have a major client presentation coming up. The one we need new ideas for.”

“Did sitting in your boss’s office work?”

“Nothing. Not a single thought. No wonder the Pope of Mope is such a blank page. Anyhow, Marcus and I forgot all about you until we heard a noise in the kitchen.”

“That’s okay,” I said guiltily. “You found me.”

He smiled again. “Which type of cookie did you choose? I’m guessing you chose a witch for the chocolate hair, right?”

“A ghost, actually. I’m all about vanilla.”

“Interesting. Very, very interesting.”

“They’re really good, by the way. I was tempted so I’m glad it’s okay I took one.”

“Paulette will be pleased—she baked them herself. I know it’s only October first, but she is such a fan of Halloween that she’s decided it’s a month-long holiday. You’ll meet her in a minute.”

The mystery man motioned for me to follow him. He led me to a room I’d scouted out already, the one with the novelty hat rack. There were two other people in there now: a very tall man standing on his chair in a pirate hat and a woman at work on an art project.

“Is this the spy, Joel?” This loud question came from the pirate brandishing a plastic sword in my direction. “Spy!” he cried again after he fixed the plastic black eyepatch falling down over his left eye.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from Brand X: The Boyfriend Account by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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