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21 April 2007

Letter to Charles Dickens re: "A Christmas Carol," or, "The Work of Children's Literature in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction"

Dear Sir:

We suggest the following changes to "A Christmas Carol."

  • It will be hard to market dolls of poor people. Plus, the Cratchits are so depressing. Can't you give them a Lexus or something? Or at least refer to a temporarily underperforming investment portfolio?
  • The whole exploitation of the workers thing, while properly moralized, is still too harsh for our target demographic (see attached spreadsheet). Even though the problem has been properly personified in the moral failings of Scrooge, as opposed to the economic system at large, it's still a little too depressing. Lighten up the situation -- have Cratchit simply be denied a promotion. God knows this would be traumatic enough!
  • We'll need to increase the Cratchit's economic status in order to maximize product placement. Poor people don't have much; this is a definite cross-marketing problem. At least bring them up to the Ikea level, as we'd like to ink a deal with them.
We realize that the whole thrust of children's literature is the deft suggestion of the darkness of life, of which children are increasingly aware, as well as the hope for light. However, you paint too dark a picture in the beginning of this story, as detailed above.

I think we should define a process by which you can address the changes suggested above for signoff on our end so that we can move together proactively on the same page.

Let's have a meeting to brainstorm this. We'll fly you in to Austin to meet with our marketing team. Then, we'll each make a presentation -- keep it at 30,000 feet, though. Don't bury me in details, for God's sake.

After that, we'll each take it back to our break-out groups and fine-tune the marketing message until we arrive at our brand essence.

Once we have that no-more-than-four-word phrase, we'll have the nucleus of our story.

I think that's the proactive way not to manage the book production process to the exceptional reader while still incentivizing a non-hierarchical, decentralized decision-making process in order to empower our human material to think outside the box while still maximizing buy-in from all stakeholders.

Pleasure doing business with you.

Blackberry ya later.

P. R. McKinsey, Editor

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