As a freelance writer, I sometimes get approached by companies to write unique brochures or think up clever advertising copy. But I’ve never had a client’s conference call scare the hell outa me like this one did. That’s because these fellows were hell bent on . . . (wait for it) giving Hell a makeover.
The Phone Call From Hell
I answered the way I normally do when my Cell rings.
Dante (Cutting me off) Listen to that boys, she was expecting us!
Me: Uh, no. HELL-O? I was just saying Hello.
Mel: Whatever. This is Mel from Hell. You know . . . Hell Enterprises. We heard your writing is on fire. Hot as hell.
Me: (blushing) Why you little devil, you. Flattery will get you everywhere.
Harry: Yeah, we need a new image. We’re not profiting in the whole “AfterLife” trend. We don’t know how to compete with Heaven.
Dante: That’s right, we can’t hold a candle to Heaven’s slogans. They’ve got “Heaven Sent.” And “Thank Heaven.” Oh, don’t forget “In Seventh Heaven” and “A Match made in Heaven.”
Me: Kind of ironic you can have a “Helluva” good time in heaven, huh? But haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Something stinks to high heaven?” Their reputation’s not exactly 100% blemish free.
Mel: See boys? I knew Miss Menopause would go to Hell and back for us. Got any other brilliant ideas?
Me: Lemme see if I can work up a nice, new Public Relations campaign and I’ll get back to you.
Harry: This better not cost too much, ya hear?
Dante: That’s right! Give ’em Hell, Harry!
Me: (unable to resist) As far as my rates go, if I do my best work, there could be Hell to Pay.
But Then . . . All Hell Broke Loose!
After the phone call, I froze with fear. Indeed, if hell froze over, there wouldn’t be a snowball’s chance in hell that I could come up with something to give Hell a positive spin. What was I thinking? Maybe the Devil made me do it.
The first thing I noticed when I typed the word on my Smartphone, it would autocorrect “Hell” to “He’ll.” That got me thinking that tweaking Hell’s name ever so slightly could be just the thing it needed. Hmmm, “Who the Hill do you think you are?” might just catch on. What a difference a vowel can make!
But then again, substituting “Hill” might remind people of a “Hill of beans” and “Finding their thrill on Blueberry Hill.” From that kind of Hill, it would only be a Slippery Slope to marching, “Over Hill, Over Dale…”
Nah, back to the drawing board.
I always feel more creative when I take my mind off the subject. Hungry, I went into the kitchen and ate some deviled eggs. Then I frosted a devil’s food cake for dinner. Food wasn’t the answer. Maybe housecleaning would help. I ran my Dirt Devil vacuum over the carpet. I know! I needed entertainment. First I danced to “Devil With the Blue Dress on,” then watched the movie, “The Devil Wears Prada. Sheesh, could “The Devil in Miss Jones” be far behind?
But I knew I needed to keep busy – – after all, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” And what in the Hell was I gonna tell Harry, Dante, & Mel?
SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL . . .
When the phone rang again, I thought I would answer it differently this time.
Me: Hi Guys, I was just thinking of you. Were your ears Burning?
Dante: Not funny.
Harry: So what’s your new plan?
Me: (nervously) Alright, open minds, right? You wanna change public perception, yes? So we need a new Mascot. The Devil is too Red and Pointy. You want something Rounder, more circular, something kids like.
Mel: Mickey Mouse ain’t exactly available.
Me: I was thinking more like a jar of mayonnaise. And it’s already got your name on it, too! “Hellmann’s Mayo.” Whadya think?
Dante: Where did ya find this crazy broad, Mel?
Mel: I don’t eat mayonnaise. And what’s wrong with pointy? We like those ears and that tail.
The Devil is in the details.
Me: Okay, but you gotta abandon the Fiery and Forever association. “Burning in Eternal Hell” doesn’t exactly sell like hotcakes. Maybe it can be just a temporary thing. Like it Fades after 10 Washes?”
Harry: Nobody has to go straight to hell. They can always take the Scenic Route.
Me: (encouraging) That’s sweet. I like it. But let’s get back to the Sales. What can be sold?
Dante: You can always sell your soul.
Me: Watch that Creep Factor, Dante. How about a fun board game with a pitchfork on the lid? People love to play Devil’s Advocate.
Harry: Not interested.
Me: Postcards from hell? Vacation from hell? Ooh! Husbands from hell! Women seem very attracted to that. Or a new car called, “Hell On Wheels?” A brand of bottled H2O called, “Come Hell or High Water?”
Mel: That all ya got, Kiddo?
Me: (brightening) Okay, brace yourself. The other side uses, “A Stairway to Heaven.” Right? So we’ll make you guys “An Escalator to Hell.”
After they slammed the phone down on me, I realized I couldn’t do this kind of thing without help. That was it! H-E-L-P!
HELP Is On The Way!
It wasn’t a vowel that needed replacing, it was a consonant.
I wrote an entire marketing plan, highlighting the virtues of changing “Hell” to “Help.” Everybody needs a little Help now and then. It’s more comfortable giving someone Help than it is to give someone Hell. Nobody minds asking for Help. There was a good movie out recently called, “The Help.” The Beatles even had a hit song, “Help!” It was a brilliant plan, but would they buy it?
I could get lucky. This might just work. I emailed the whole thing off to them.
Days went by and I didn’t hear anything back. I was getting a bit angry at being ignored.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
I really tried my best and had given it my all.
The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
I didn’t want to Battle these guys anymore.
War is Hell.
When I answered the phone, Dante was singing another Beatles song, “I get by with a little HELL from my friends.” No, no, no! Please don’t let this thing backfire. But his sidekicks sounded enthusiastic. . .
Mel: You’re a Genius! Changing “Hell” to “Help” was exactly the push into the public eye we needed!
Harry: That’s right. We’ve never felt more loved and wanted.
Me: Wow, so you like it?
Dante: Like it?? The entire country is talking about us. But how did you get so many businesses to put our new slogan on a sign in their window so quickly?
Me: What new slogan?
Mel: “Help Wanted!”