13th century BCE. Mount Olympus. Zeus meets with his ad agency. 

Creative Director: Thanks for seeing us today. I’m confident that we can come out of this with a new direction for your personal brand.

Zeus: I like my personal brand.

Creative Director: I understand, but our research shows that it’s not resonating with your audience. If you’ll look at this clay tablet, our analyst will walk you through some negative trends we’ve noticed lately. Calliope?

Analyst: We’ve selected the KPIs that most reflect how the Zeus identity is perceived, including songs about your exploits, pleas uttered during cattle sacrifices, and market share of prayer. As you can see, your worshippers are no longer interested in your divine thunderbolt and rulership of the pantheon. Instead, they’ve become fixated on your various, erm, amorous encounters.

Zeus: What’s wrong with people talking about my sex life? I want my followers to know I’m virile.

Analyst: Well, for starters–

Creative Director: Yes, thank you, Calliope. Zeus, your supporters definitely know you’re virile. The problem is that they consider your interests a bit… unusual. Instead of focusing on your sexual prowess, the comments we’ve been hearing tend to emphasize your shapeshifting.

Zeus: Wonderful!

Creative Director: It may be, uh, wonderful, but it’s distracting from your main message. People are so busy thinking about you having sex with someone as a bull that they’re forgetting your absolute power over creation. Honestly, they’re concerned.

Zeus: Why would they be concerned?

Creative Director: They don’t understand your desire to have sex in animal form as well as you or I do. It’s not accessible.

Zeus: I don’t understand.

Creative Director: What was the most common response we saw on our sentiment analysis, Calliope?

Analyst: Revulsion.

Zeus: That can’t be right.

Creative Director: I’m afraid it is. Your audience is human, and thus prone to harsh moral judgments.

Zeus: Is the bull considered too aggressive? Too clumsy?

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Creative Director: It’s mainly that your audience is used to people sleeping with other people, not animals. It’s hard to relate to. Calliope has a lot of stats to back this up.

Analyst: We polled peasants in the Agora about two frescoes our designer created. One was titled “Zeus is great in the bedroom” and one was titled “Zeus is a bull in the bedroom.” Most viewers immediately covered their eyes when presented with the second fresco. Your audience finds the concept disgusting.

Zeus: No, I’m sure it’s because the bull didn’t look sexy enough. You should get a new designer.

Creative Director: Consider it done. On that note, I have two new concepts to present to you today. This first painting is called “The God of Pleasure.” It shows you lounging nude in your pleasure garden, looking tenderly at your nymphs. It’s a vulnerable depiction, without the traditional lightning bolt or fearful grimace, which makes it a surprising and bold choice. You won’t see anything like it being done by the other warrior gods.

Analyst: Athena’s pray-through rates have been dropping for years because she refuses to rebrand in a more gentle direction.

Creative Director: Exactly. The god space has grown stale. We need something disruptive to make polytheism feel new again. It’s time for a more human Zeus: relatable, but still sexy.

Zeus: I hate it.

Creative Director: Okay, great, first impressions are important. Can you elaborate on that?

Zeus: I don’t want to be more human.

Creative Director: All right, let’s put a pin in this and circle back later. I think you’re really going to like the second concept, since it’s a bit more traditional. This is called “Lightning Strikes Twice.” We’re playing with the image of the lightning bolt here. With some clever design choices it comes across as a double entendre. Lightning strikes twice with Zeus: once on the battlefield and once in the bedroom.

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Zeus: No.

Creative Director: No? Can you tell me what bothers you about this concept?

Zeus: I look human.

Creative Director: Well, as we just discussed, that’s going to be the pillar of this new campaign. A more human Zeus. Relatable, powerful, and, most importantly, someone your worshippers can imagine sleeping with.

Zeus: We just need a different animal.

Creative Director: Pardon?

Zeus: If the bull bothers them, we need to find an animal women like better.

Creative Director: Calliope, do we have any stats about women?

Analyst: Well, women comprise just over half of your audience, and they–

Zeus: Something delicate. Something they could imagine befriending, only to have it suddenly turn on them and strip them naked. Something they’ll view with both fear and titillation.

Creative Director: Maybe we can come to a compromise here. Some animal-like imagery in the borders, to hint at the bestial flavor of your bedroom behavior–

Zeus: Swans.

Creative Director: What?

Zeus: Bitches love swans.

Analyst: Seriously?

Creative Director: Er, maybe. Have we done a survey on that, Calliope?

Analyst: No.

Creative Director: We could test that angle along with a few other variants. Swans in the margins, and a sweaty, nude Zeus in the center…

Zeus: This is perfect. Zeus, god of thunder, seducer of women, occasional swan. The tagline can be “Soft feathers, sharp beak, strong cock.”

Creative Director: Oh. Oh, no. I don’t even see how that would be anatomically possible. Calliope?

Analyst: Yeah, I absolutely don’t have those stats.

Zeus: Anatomically impossible means it’s perfect! Surprising and disruptive, just like you said. Let’s rebrand with me assaulting virgins as a swan.

Creative Director: But the research says–

Zeus: Rebrand me as a swan or I smite you into ash.

Creative Director: I understand, but I really think–

Zeus: Rebrand me as a swan or I terminate your contract.

Creative Director: …Swan it is.

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