Virtuosity plays monopoly
Trust the Trusts
Welcome to a special Situation Normal collaboration withof Extra Evil and of Field Research. If you’ve read our collaborations before, welcome back! If you’re new to our collaborations, the gist is this: we created a fake ad agency to deal with some real problems. Enjoy the madness!
Dennard: Thanks for coming.
The people are angry. Just like last month, and the month before that. And while that is deeply, richly entertaining, it’s not sustainable.
Our research — and their demands — say it’s linked to everything costing more, doing less, and often killing you. Back in my day, we called that whining communism. And I’m 32, so I mean last fall. You worked hard to build your monopolies, and they’re worth defending.
There’s two ways out. A campaign, and an apology.
Do not apologize. We tried that, and it sucked. My brain did that thing…when you take an action, and feel bad after it. Like you haven’t drank in a while? Virtuosity’s done apologizing, and so are you.
You need a campaign. To change the hearts of the public, and let the government go back to napping. That’s where Virtuosity, the only agency that matters, comes in. We’ve dedicated top minds to defending industry dominance. We’re not convincing them they love monopoly. We’re proving they always have.
You just have to buy in. No one outside this room can afford it anymore.
Amran has your first option. Options are also exclusive to this room.
I want you to visualize the free market.
Think about the billions of self-interested actors scattered across the globe, all competing for goods and services in a panoply of distorted and disorderly markets. Imagine the bribing and backstabbing between dishonorable buyers and venal sellers. Consider the wonderful externalities — such as disproportionate wealth creation and climate-mediated population control — created by The Invisible Hand’s gentle caress.
A magnificent, Milton Friedman-inspired wet dream, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, problems are brewing in economic fantasyland.
The same market manipulators, complicit politicians, and captive regulators who created our righteous oligopoly are under siege by economic extremists. These anarchists — grotesque subhumans who advocate for civil liberty and bodily autonomy — want to dismantle the ruthlessly efficient and laughably inequitable system you’ve spent decades constructing.
You know the risk these regressives pose to your special dividends and shareholder buybacks.
To stem this reasonable tide, we need to show the proletariat that leveling the financial playing field would lead to a socialist-style collapse akin to Japan or Western Europe. Do Americans really want to live longer, healthier, richer lives, free of gun violence and housing insecurity, subject to a nightmarish litany of tax-funded programs designed to serve their most vulnerable neighbors?
Can you imagine a more dystopian hellscape?
Progressive taxation and fair market competition are chaotic, amoral, and profit-reducing solutions, which leaves just one viable path: embracing monopoly. And that’s where Virtuosity comes in, with a campaign I’m calling “The Madness of Choice.”
Remember when you were a kid, and grownups made all the important decisions in your life, and you were happy? Then what happened? You turned eighteen, the illusion of free will was dangled in front of you, and ever since you’ve been paralyzed by an onslaught of increasingly dehumanizing choices.
Which brand employs more diligent child laborers? Nike, or Adidas?
Should I opt for the triple-bypass from McDonalds, or the quadruple-bypass from Burger King?
Ruger’s renowned revolvers, or SIG Sauer’s sleek semi-autos?
The human brain is an evolutionary marvel, but it can only process so much information. Until recently our corrupt oligopoly trickled down just enough wealth to keep the pathetic masses pacified. But, as with children, once you give an inch, these terrorists demand a mile. And yet, their precious little prole brains couldn’t possibly fathom the dignity provided by a living wage, let alone comprehend an esoteric concept like upward mobility.
Science proves it. Researchers at Peter Thiel’s Moonraker Institute have consistently shown that when consumers are deprived of choice, and stripped of agency, they can easily be coerced into reporting higher scores on surveys measuring personal happiness and overall life satisfaction.
Our campaign would leverage these findings, which were generously funded with grants from PayPal, Monsanto, and Saudi Aramco, and launch a multichannel strategy that educates consumers on how choice drives them insane. By deploying every tool at our disposal — from classic highway billboards to sponsored content on YouTube to bribable influencers on TikTok — these ingrates will finally realize choice creates chaos, and only benevolent monopolies, like yours, can free them from their capitalist shackles.
I won’t lie, this campaign will cost you. But you need to ask yourself this: would you rather sacrifice a few basis points of operating margin now, or compete in a sane economic system later?
Dennard: Can you marry a pitch? I might need to find a way. I want to enjoy one good month, two loveless years, and three decades of open hatred with this pitch.
Amran: Certainly more rewarding than all those Hinge dates.
Michael: Let me know where you guys are registered. I’m invited to the wedding, right?
Dennard: I know it sounds like I’m sexually moved by that pitch. I am. And I’m excited to cheat with Michael’s brilliance. His work is really enhanced by understanding people, instead of imagining them on fire.
First, it’s an honor to defend monopoly, and I'm not just saying that because you’re the only game in town. I’m a legit monopoly fanboy. Need proof? I nearly cornered the market on frozen concentrated orange juice.
It almost worked, but it turned out the market for frozen concentrated orange is fictional. My lawyer called it a “technicality” that saved my ass from jail. What can I say? Liberal arts guy here, so maybe business isn’t my bag, but bullshit is my core competency.
The people have a choice: love monopoly, or get fucked. You’ve been playing nice for too long. Time to
convince fool the people into defending monopoly. Let’s get down to brass knuckles, shall we?
Recently, I read some bullshit about the government accusing the meat industry of price fixing. Your lawyers say, deny the charges. But I say, no more meat.
We pull all the meat from supermarket shelves. Then we put signs on the empty shelves that ask: “Who stole your meat?”
It’ll take a few days for that question to really start buzzing on social media, and that’s when we hit them with an answer. A deep fake of Joe Biden where he says, “Let them eat tofu.”
Short run: skyrocketing sales for your soy subsidiary. Long run: pitchforks and knives for the trust-busting bureaucrats.
But remember, “Love monopoly, or get fucked” is a template we can apply to any trust-buster. The DOJ says Google is a monopoly? Use your First Amendment right to redirect every single Google search to a picture of Merrick Garland, until the people find a Second Amendment solution. FTC Chairperson Lina Kahn says, free shipping is a lie? Ship all the packages to her house, then tell the people where to pick up their stuff. The government says private equity can’t corner the anesthesiology market in Texas? Tell Texans they have a choice: “cowboy up” for surgery without drugs, or “cowboy up” and go after the drug-hoarding trust-busters.
Dennard: I can’t imagine not cherishing and protecting that ad. It’s like the rain forest, if it generated value instead of worthless air.
Michael: Speaking of air. When are you guys gonna start bottling and selling air?
Amran: Seriously, you can tell us. Another upside of the total monopoly economy? Your stock will be the only one in your sector, hence no more pesky insider trading charges.
Dennard: Do I love this pitch, or my one legitimate son more? I don’t know. But I definitely love it more than the other kids.
Michael: He loves this pitch so much, he’d send it college. Private school tuition. Plus, room and board. That’s love.
I planned a whole “Nostalgia” rip-off speech. But effort insulted the enterprise’s spirit. So I’ll come clean.
We own the other four agencies pitching you. You’re picking between Coke and Vanilla Coke. I’ve gone ahead and burned the presentation budget on a PSA. This video spot will run…wherever we feel like, really. Again, the fix is in. But you’ll love the results.
Watch this, and then don’t tell me what you think. Because we’re doing it.
TITLE CARD: “Johnny Learns to Chill”
INT. UNIVERSITY COMMON ROOM
Monochrome film recalls better times in the empire.
Young firebrand JOHNNY STRAWMAN finishes a handmade sign. His handwriting is nigh-illegible, marred by collectivism.
His smarter, better, happier friend JENNY TRUST approaches.
What’s wrong Johnny? Have you shopped today?
Not yet. This march is more important. They’re letting the Microsoft merger through. And Endeavor. And a bunch of stuff with food and water. I love food and water!
You’re delirious. What’s your Amazon username? I’ll buy out your wishlist.
It’s Jdawg2008 — no, wait! They’re worse!
Johnny, aren’t you tired?
A little, but—
Of wasting your life? You only have one.
I…don’t think a friend would say that.
Isn’t that the problem, Johnny? All that thinking? All that fighting?
Well, you have to fight to win.
JENNY TRUST laughs. And then laughs. And then continues laughing.
Ah, you meant that. Sorry.
JOHNNY takes a nervous step backwards. He’s still the same distance away.
Sleep in. You found this protest on a monopoly phone, searching a monopoly engine, in a monopoly coffee shop. It’s over.
JOHNNY tries two sideways steps. Same result.
Monopoly is like gravity, but less wishy-washy. Energy in a system trends toward order.
Untrue? In books, sure. But we’re almost down to one publisher. And then we’ll have one truth.
JOHNNY sprints to the doorknob. It won’t budge.
JOHNNY rams the door with his shoulder. Nothing, save a dry popping sound. He clutches the joint, panicked.
Thirsty work! Have a drink. I’ve got Coke, Fanta, Powerade…or Pepsi, if you’re feeling indie. Support small business, right?
Let me out.
Sure, if you don’t want a special-edition Dreamworld Coke. The promotion’s almost over.
Jenny extends a can of limited-run cola. It’s the only color object onscreen.
Surrender and struggle end the same way. But one lets you rest.
JOHNNY STRAWMAN looks at his shoulder, and then Jenny. The bruise is getting dark. He drops the sign, and takes the can with his intact limb.
Dennard: Like it? Next year’s PSA will be shittier, and more expensive. But don’t forget your other two choices! From us. For more. You know the game.
Dennard: I’ll be real. You can get on board, or read about the 2024 riots in a textbook. Play it your way.
Amran: This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. All we need is for you to wire that fat, juicy deposit to our account at Bank of J.P. Morgan Stanley.
Michael: One last thing. Hate to ask. But do you validate parking?
Thank you for reading! I’ll be back next Sunday with a new story.
In the meantime, please share or Restack this collaboration…
Stick around and chat!
You know the drill. I’ve got questions. You’ve got answers.
Did you play Monopoly as a kid? Did you corner the real estate market, or end up in debtor’s prison?
There are a lot of monopolies out there. Too many! What’s your favorite monopoly? No judgement.
What’s your least favorite monopoly?
Washington is starting to rethink antitrust law. Finally! But wouldn’t it have been a lot cooler if one of the 2020 presidential candidates had made Regulate by Warren G their campaign song? Explain.
How do you bust a trust? Get creative!