Tuesday 31 December 2019

A Change of Tack Going Forward

by Hannah Retallick

red-top milk

I’d like to thank you all for gathering at such short notice. It’s been a rough time, I’m afraid, for the business, a state which I know we agree, unequivocally, cannot be allowed to continue, especially considering, of course, that it is usually, under normal circumstances, our most lucrative time of year.
Yes, indeed, well I’m just getting to that. We’ll have questions and discussion at the end. And a leftover mince pie, perhaps, har har.
No, of course not. I was quite obviously joking. There will be cups of tea, though, if Pat or somebody doesn’t mind serving them.
Ah, no milk could be a problem. Oh well, perhaps one of us could nip out to the shop next door at some point.
Thank you, Pat. You’re a star. Make sure it’s red top, har har.
Right, anyway, as I was saying, we are going to have to reconsider our tactics regarding advertising, rhetoric, message – the lot. It appears – due to the reduction in obesity figures, which may have been caused, inadvertently, by the success of some of our more rebellious competitors and compounded by body positivity propaganda – that people are in general becoming more complacent. Self-sufficient. Content.
I like that, Jeff. ‘Contentment is the enemy of business’…Yes, quite. And it has occurred to me that we are coming at it from the wrong angle. It seemed, of course, as we have all agreed in the past, that health was the most important thing, and that to sell health, primarily, in campaigns, is likely to produce the best results for our company, especially on the other side of the festive season when people are filled with such optimism. Health, health, health.
Well, we were wrong. There is a movement gaining momentum, which focuses not so much on eating habits, diets, exercise, but on overall health, in a way that is far out of proportion in my opinion. A movement that seeks to change how people think, to change the way they look at themselves, at their bodies, focusing on mental health first and foremost. And I believe this is responsible for the fall in our sales, not only in group attendance, but in food products, magazines etc. etc.
No, Shirley, I am not trivialising mental health concerns at all. That’s the last thing in the world that I would want to do, what with mental health being such an important issue. No, of course not. It’s just that I fear that people are so focused on their happiness that they fail to consider how they might improve themselves and fail to realise the continued importance of companies such as ours.
Yes, Jeff, a big problem indeed.
The fact of the matter is, we need a change of tack going forward, to think outside the box. So, let me pick your brains. How might we boost our customer numbers and loyalty?
Uh huh. Hmm…
Well, hmm, that’s interesting. Yes…
That is one way of looking at it.
The answer is, of course, staring us in the face: discontentment. I believe we should try to redress the balance, show our customers that they have strayed too far from self-improvement, and have, inadvertently, begun to look at things in the wrong way. It is our aim – no, our duty – to help them find the right path again. And, we must, of course, now have a brainstorming session, to come up with specifics for a new campaign. Keep the thoughts coming, throw ideas around, however silly you may think them. Let’s be creative.
Ah, our milk lady returns! Hello, Pat. Thank you very much.
Oh. I see. Only blue top. Oh well, I suppose we could water it down, har har! I’ll take my coffee black today, please. Thank you.
What does everyone else want?

About the author
Hannah Retallick is a twenty-five-year-old from Anglesey, North Wales. She was home educated and then studied with the Open University, graduating with a First-class honours degree, BA in Humanities with Creative Writing and Music, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. She is working on her second novel and writes short stories and a blog. She was shortlisted in the Writing Awards at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2019, the Cambridge Short Story Prize, and the Henshaw Short Story Competition June 2019. https://ihaveanideablog.wordpress.com/

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