Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Curious Case of the 100% Successful Advertising Company

Case File Summary 2319
by DCI Yara Lightfoot, Serious and Metaphysical Crime Squad.


The 100% Successful Advertising Company was founded on February 2nd 2002 by a gentleman known as Jonny Atwell. This may or may not be his real name. He has been known by other names, as has the firm associated with him. Despite taking on apparently legitimate commissions from time to time, the Company was primarily a front for a culture jamming operation using anomalous memetic methods.

To begin with it wasn’t clear that 100% Successful Advertising Company was committing any crimes1. The anomaly generated/harnessed by the Company has the potential to seriously affect all forms of human interaction. While Atwell remains at large he may decide to share his secrets or trade them.

A memetic item is an object, tangible or otherwise, used to encode and/or transmit information. A word is a memetic object. I may say to you “can I borrow your pen?” for example. My desire for the temporary use of a pen is communicated through a chain of sounds, translated into morphemes. You may understand what I say to you or you may not. You may also act on what I say or not. What Atwell has been doing is encoding information that can only be understood and must be acted upon. He is converting human brains, complex and original, effectively into hard drives, with limited neural pathways.

Financial inflow appears to have been insufficient to sustain the Company's operations. The Serious and Metaphysical Crime Squad is working with fraud investigators to disentangle the company's accounts from other ‘information’ contained within. Some of this report will be redacted due to ongoing info-hazard screening and deactivation.

Suspect – Jonny/Rupert Atwell

Mr Atwell is the founder of the Company and chief suspect in this case. We know (or are fairly sure) he is 35, Caucasian, approximately six foot tall, with brown, mid-length hair. He speaks with an English accent, non-regionalised. 

We are currently unable to find any living relatives of Mr Atwell. He has a mother and father, Mr and Mrs Alan and Angela Atwell, though there is no record of their existence online, financial, health or local government after September 26th, 2008, the day their house in Uxbridge that they had lived in for the previous [Redacted] years was purchased by an unknown party. The house is still unoccupied and the parents are missing. NHS records indicate that ‘Rupert’ Atwell was born in Hillingdon Hospital on February 2nd 19802 though we should treat this fact with caution. He appears to have attended primary and secondary schools in West London 1984 to 1996 though again caution should be advised.

Interviews conducted with former teachers indicate difficulty remembering something consistent and true about Atwell beyond approximately the age of fourteen3. Piecing together character-based accounts we get a young man with charm and affability, a fairly good academic performance, but also some anti-social tendencies, particularly an ability to manipulate both pupils and teachers, combined with an attraction to creating chaos. This tendency accelerated during his secondary education.

One notable incident, verified, was when Atwell managed to bargain with a teacher to get one week's worth of detention commuted in return for delivering 1,000 leaflets for an upcoming school fete. This is remarkable in itself but furthermore Atwell it seems persuaded three first-year pupils to actually deliver the leaflets. Other examples given by eyewitnesses include getting the canteen staff to relabel the condiments to opposite flavours, persuading the janitor to remove the all doors in a science block and writing [Redacted] on a blackboard causing a second-year class plus the teacher to forget the French language existed4.

Atwell graduated in 2001 from the University of [Redacted], as Jonny Atwell, with a first-class honours degree in Computer Programming and Media Studies. After an unremarkable second year his final year grades improved dramatically. His dissertation is currently under embargo as an info-hazard. His final presentation, a short lecture recorded on VHS, the title of which was [Redacted] Synapse [Redacted] Juxtaposition [Redacted] in the [Redacted], is available for restricted viewing5.

Case history

These are examples, now all screened and (mostly) detoxed and set in chronological order, beginning with: “New Gym Opens…” dated January the 7th, 2006:

New Gym Opens in [Redacted]

By Jermaine Concord
Millennium goose pimple sex alcohol over your skin now stuck to your belly? Why not turn over a new waif? Get on down to touch see good develop new body tones rubbing at the new state of the art gymnasium, Pleiades Inversion Plan B, opening next week in [Redacted].
“Reasonable prices” says owner Marshall Cartilage, “with measurable equipment and opaque results. I get revolutionary new oversight of personal trainers, ten methods in all; just wipe off the mess after you’re done!”
So if you want to get fit for the burgeoning army, classic flavours and a new you, why not try Pleiades Inversion Plan B, on [Redacted]?
The story was rewritten from a faxed press release sent to a freesheet called Get West, which was delivered round the borough of Ealing. It came from a number eventually traced to the Company.

The piece initially proved successful for the gym, actually named Marsha Jane’s for its owner Marsha-Jane Carter. Several thousand people registered with the gym and the business experienced strong profits in first six months. Membership dropped off in time and the business was wound up a little over three years later. We have been unable to trace Ms Carter. All record of her existence ends after the summer of 2009. Evidence suggests the gymnasium was not anomalous in itself and there is nothing, as of yet, to suggest Ms Carter was or is involved with the Company.

The advert proved less successful for a number of newspaper staff, who were reprimanded and/or demoted, including the editor of the paper and sub editor who approved it. The person whose name is on the by-line has not been traced however it is a pseudonym used by one of the Five Suspects (see below).

The first audio example collected (and transcribed) is called “Radiochair.” It was broadcast 12th of May, 2008, 11.35am, on [Redacted] FM and London music radio station:

The sounds of a sound check, drums and cymbals clash, stray guitar riffs and a man shouts: “one two, one two, check, check…” The sound fades down a little.
Man: [Loud with a mockney/MLE accent] Indie schmindie, yeah? You climb to the top of the landfill and what do you see? Radiochair and they're KICKING OUT THE JANUS STATUES!
Montage of rock music emerges and continues for duration under voice-over.
Man: You’ve not heard of them before but you know EXACTLY WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE! They’ve come from the Trenchant Academy and they’ve come to SOFT ROCK YOU with their MATHS! You will SUBMIT CORPOREALLY to the Radiochair classic flavours such as [Redacted], “Bellatrix Indigo Prat Ramp (pump my squirrel…)” and “Why Not Try Animating My French Glands…?” If that doesn't glisten your crisps then you are COMPELLED to buy their new album with MONEY or FOOD!
The advert resulted in a spike of internet searches for both the band and the songs in question, lasting for approximately thirty hours. In that time two webpages6 appeared both claiming to have not only music but also live footage, press details and lists upcoming gigs for Radiochair. The band didn't actually exist.

No one knows how the clip was smuggled on air. The show it was broadcast on was brought to a halt soon after the presenter, Aiden Longworth and producer Juba Dettori left the station building and got into a waiting car. The last words spoken on the show were given by neither Longworth nor Dettori but a third person, a male-sounding voice, digitally altered. It said:

“Quality Control delivered test run aim fire eats shoots leaves.”

Longworth later turned up in the University College of London Hospital, heavily amnesticised and unware of the incident. Longworth was reintegrated into society in December 2009 with a new identity.

“Iceberg,” dated 15th of September, 2008, refers to a quarter-page advert placed in a tabloid called City and Financial News. It was discovered retrospectively during police interviews conducted in 2011 with three former employees of [Redacted] Brothers into a separate matter. The advert consisted of a blue-tinted picture of a large iceberg, looming in the Thames, seen through the silhouette of various buildings belonging to the Canary Wharf complex. Overlaid in white, [Redacted] point Arial letters was the phrase: “No rainbows and Reykjavik is bracing see my friend.” This is of course the day when [Redacted] Brothers folded. Despite conducting interviews with staff at the paper we were unable to find who placed the advert, just a ledger with outstanding invoice to “100% Company.”

“Stop right there auntie…” dated 23rd of March 2010 was a major traffic disruption in Central London eventually traced to an advert programmed into the electronic billboard above the westbound section of the Euston underpass. The advert consisted of a cropped photograph of the front of car, light-blue, unknown make or model, with a number plate bearing “LDN 23 GRD”, and a caption in black, Billboard Font, saying:


SAMCS agents were alerted to the incident by British Transport Police. The advert was placed with the billboard’s owners by a firm logged as “The 100.” The firm had a listed address in Central London but the building was discovered to have been demolished three months prior as part of Crossrail construction. The 100’s web-domain was acquired by SAMCS shortly afterwards. No memetic hazards were discovered in its website until the section marked “About Us” it said:

“The 100 is next-level advertising. Through advanced entropic methodologies WE WILL guarantee you and your brand market leadership. WE WILL help you straddle the brain barrier. In turbulent economic times we are the ROCK YOU can depend on.”

“No Face Selfies,” refers to a chain of events that took place between February the 2nd and February the 4th 2011. They were brought to the attention of SAMCS by senior officers of the Household Regiment in Knightsbridge. The incident is known publicly as an unfortunate series of suicides that took place between the above dates in and around the Knightsbridge Barracks7.

In just a little under 40-hours seven soldiers, Privates [Redacted], [Redacted], [Redacted] and [Redacted], Sergeants [Redacted] and [Redacted], and Corporal [Redacted], died. It began with Private [Redacted] who locked himself in a changing room cubicle and attempted to remove his facial features with a razor blade. Before expiring due to his injuries Private [Redacted] used a mobile phone to send a picture of himself to Private [Redacted], the second victim. The meme spread in this manner.

The meme was eventually traced to a notice placed on a common-room board, an A5 sheet of paper with a picture of a manic-looking clown in extravagant make-up with a caption underneath, in [Redacted] point Courier saying: “Inside. You are beans. Inside. This is a cannery. Fetch the tin opener. Spread the word. Outside. 100. 23. I am Eris. Don't fuck with me.” After a brief investigation a staff member working for a firm with a contract to clean the facility was found to have gone missing; her name was Juno Dettori.

There are, or were, four known associates of Jonny/Rupert Atwell, all are currently in SAMCS custody.

Juba/Juno Dettori, age, unknown, presumed over 30, height 5’6”: appearance, dark, wavy hair, eye colour unknown, medium build, speaks with Received Pronunciation: known alias, Anna Matschke. Juba was a known personal assistant to Atwell. She has an anomalous talent of being able to obscure her facial features on all photographs and videos taken of her and in the memory of anyone who has seen her. Though now conscious she either does not know or is unwilling to say how she is able to do this.

Anton Lavorski, a computer engineer age 55, height 6’2”: appearance, brown hair, brown eyes: known aliases (the most common), Kaltespiel, Immortal Beloved, Traven, Fulcanelli, Kropotkin’s Revenge. Lavorski was a computer programmer living in North London. In 1989 he helped found and lead a local Anti-Poll Tax Union. He was summoned to magistrates for prosecution for non-payment in the summer of 1990, shortly after the initial hearing he disappeared.

David Mansell, age 36, height 5'9”, bald with shaven hair, he was a well-known graffiti artist, flaneur and housing agitator.

Jay Sherman, age 24, height 5'8”, blonde hair, baby-face, a sound technician, also known as Jermaine Conker, Jermaine Concord and Jimmy Creases.

Known affiliations of the Four, include:

The League against Anthroposection a terrorist group circa 1986-1999, dedicated to freeing humanoid anomalies held by the (so-called) Department of Metaphysics8.

Free the Furious Five, a campaign, no one was sure what it was about but in 1994 it produced a great deal of flyposting then disappeared. The only consistent aspect of the postering was repetition of the number 23.

Copyright Liberation Publishing; active from 1991 to 2008, it produced amongst a host of pamphlets, all available in the SAMCS library, including…

Rocket from the Crypt; a discordian monthly magazine with orientation toward music.

The North London Tenants and Residents Association: a collective of psychogeographers. It met once a fortnight for a discussion and tour, usually beginning in somewhere in Archway.

IWW Local 1312 is not a union branch but a police-watch group that, amongst other things keeps files on SAMCS.

Seven Proxies, a secret internet bulletin board and anarchist/discordian/situationist meeting point, only recently cracked. Hopefully it will shed light not just on this but other cases.

Atwell recruited from this milieu, anarchist bordering on discordian. The four became his employees. His associates are now in SAMCS custody. All of them in are in a post-vegetative state, having recovered consciousness but not any prior memories or identities. They are impossible to interview until the seemingly permanent brain rewiring clearly carried out by their former employer is resolved.

Further case history

SAMCS came onto the case in 2008. Having narrowed down the source of the disturbances officers pursued Atwell for several months. He was eventually found living on a boat moored off the Chelsea Embankment. Atwell was not hostile but was clearly aware of his position and did not give SAMCS interviewers much to go on. Officers did not find a basis to charge Atwell and eventually have to release him9.

In 2011 there was an attempt to introduce an Anti-Memetics Bill to Parliament. It failed in the House of Lords for opaque reasons10. A number of peers expected to vote for the bill either didn't turn up or voted against. The reading came two days before the counterattack on the Knightsbridge Barracks11.

The new offices of the 100% Successful Advertising Agency were found to be in Shoreditch. November 2010, SAMCS placed the building and the staff under permanent surveillance. Though unable to make arrest we were able to covertly contain a number of info-hazards emanating from said firm12. A bill was passed in 2012 and Atwell's activities were finally outlawed. SAMCS prepared for an arrest but it seems Atwell was also prepared.

For three years no illegal info-hazards emerged from the Company. The operation was due to be wound down when, on December 15th 2015, SAMCS intelligence intercepted an advert pitch coming from the Company, a proposition for reviving a well-known advert for a price comparison website that was full of info-hazards13. An arrest squad was prepared. They were unable to make arrest however. The squad halted en masse outside in sight of the building. There was a banner hung from one of the office windows. It said: “You can't come in: You cannot arrest us: Signed Children of Eris.” It took nearly two days for SAMCS officers to deactivate the meme. By the time the squad got inside Atwell was long gone. CCTV footage recovered later showed a man matching Atwell’s description walking out of the building wearing a t-shirt with the logo “Nothing to See Here.” After gaining access officers found four people in the office, matching the descriptions of Atwell’s associates, each unconscious and wrapped almost head to foot in bandages14.

1 Hence the eventual Memetics and Info-hazards Act, 2012.
2 Note the date. Atwell’s NHS records are currently undergoing memetic screening.
3 It’s after this point that eyewitness accounts start referring to ‘Jonny’ rather than ‘Rupert.’
4 No eyewitnesses ever describe Atwell being suspended or expelled for his actions.
5 Very little of it survives the memetic screening process. SAMCS technicians are working on deactivating the info-hazards.
6 Both are still embargoed.
7 There is widespread suspicion that these were in fact murders and that the murderer is still at large. SAMCS allows these rumours to persist (within limits) as they draw attention from the actual events.
8 No such government department exists.
9 Of course incitement is a crime but given the bizarre surface nature of what the Company produced it was almost impossible to pin down how Atwell and his associates were inciting people.
10A critical number of peers each got lost, apparently, on the London Underground, ending up at several terminus stations before phoning for help.
11 We now believe it was a counter-attack.
12 The London Olympics passed without disturbance.
13 If taken up the advert would have been broadcast on national terrestrial and satellite television channels.

14 It seems this case is very far from wrapped up.

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