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Booster brainstorm for 2012 Democratic convention 


Scene: A corporate conference room containing a large table, chairs, a snack tray, water bottles, and a couple of ferns.

Characters: Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tim Newman, Center City Partners honcho Michael Smith, CCP Sr. VP for Communications Moira Quinn, and a Charlotte Observer editor who wishes anonymity because of the puzzling public perception that his paper sucks up to Uptown business interests.

Event: Meeting to determine which "world-class" Charlotte accolades, events and people to promote nationally, in preparation for the 2012 Democratic convention. We join the meeting, already in progress.

Michael Smith: ... OK, that takes care of the biggies. Now, here's another world-class thing we can market — did you see the story about how CMC participated in studies for some new wonder drug?

Editor X: We ran that story, it's a drug to prolong the lives of people with melanoma.

Moira Quinn: Umm, isn't that a bit of a stretch to call "participating in" medical studies "world-class"? Surely we have better things to market than that.

Tim Newman: OK, like what?

MQ: Well, we're right up there with big cities in lots of ways. I mean, we had our first real rapper-connected drive-by shooting recently — that's a big deal.

TN: You mean that Waka Jawaka guy?

EdX: It's Waka Flocka Flame. Waka/Jawaka is a Frank Zappa album.

TN: Who?

MS: Never mind, Tim. You know, somehow I just can't see a drive-by shooting being all that marketable.

MQ: You're probably right. It must be my entertainment background talking (laughs).

TN: What entertainment background?

MQ: (loud sigh) Tim, have you ever heard of my long-ago employer P.M. Magazine?

TN: No, why?

MQ: (under her breath) Such. A. Goober.

EdX: Hey, here's something. I saw where the I-485 stretch around Pineville was named the 31st worst commute in the entire United States!

MS: How is that marketable?

EdX: 'Cause it puts us in the top 50 cities! No? Wait! We're in the top 10 in unhealthy air! You can't say that's not world-class.

MS: Hmm, maybe ...

TN: Well, I hope we can reconsider hyping the NASCAR Hall — it's one of a kind!

MQ: Tim, I know that's your baby, but I can just see the headlines now: "Democratic delegates — be sure to visit the biggest boondoggle in Uptown Charlotte history!

EdX: (Laughs) Or how about, "Be sure to visit the nation's worst-attended sports hall of fame!" (Laughs uproariously, MQ chuckles, MS and TN are stone-silent.)

MS: Here's an idea: "Our buildings have colors!" You know, like the Bank of America building or the Duke Energy building.

TN: Duke Energy ...? Oh, you mean the Tote Bag.

MS: The Lunch Pail!

MQ: The Tackle Box!

MS: Voltron!

MQ: The Taser!

EdX: You know, umm, colored lights on buildings have been pretty much around for about 90 or 100 years now.

MS, TN, MQ: Oh.

TN: I've got it! That wheel-well kid at the airport! That was all over the national news.

MQ: Yeah, but not in a good way, Tim.

TN: Well, y'all don't like any of my other ideas, so let's go with my favorite thing about Charlotte — hot chicks! You know how Democrats are, they'll love it.

MQ: (groaning) Oh. My. God. I swear, I'll quit if we do that.

MS: Umm, probably not, Tim. But did you hear? Next week, Jerry Richardson will be named Crabbiest NFL Owner by Grouchy Gramps magazine.

TN: Co-o-o-o-ol!

MS: Can you write something up on that, Moira?

MQ: You're kidding me, right?

MS: No, I'm not. But since none of these ideas please you, what do you suggest instead?

MQ: Here's what I'm thinking: You know the bill to put digital billboards every 800 feet? What if, when that passes and the ads are up all along our highways, we set up a special tour for the delegates. We could drive them up and down I-77 and Independence Boulevard, and have a specially scripted "billboard show" for them about Charlotte. Wouldn't that be neat?

MS, TN: Man, that's great! It'll make the city stand out for all the world to see, and revel in Charlotte's glory!

MQ: How did both of you say all that at exactly the same time? Never mind.

MS: You know, we're running out of time. Any other ideas before we adjourn?

EdX: There's one obvious thing we haven't touched on, and it's as world-class as can be ... ready? I think we should play up the fact that two of the city's biggest employers, Bank of America and Wachovia, were part of all that insane derivatives trading that almost brought down the whole world's economy! Talk about world-class!

MS: Umm, you know, let's give that one some more thought till we meet next time. OK, guys, it's getting late — meeting's adjourned.

MQ: Tim, how dare you! (sound of loud slap)

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