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Bad Influence(r), Chapter Three: The Heights of Stardom

Vivianne from Bad Influencer by Tori Hamlin

The following day, Vivianne drove downtown, making sure to park a few blocks from the building. It wouldn’t do for someone to see the car she drove. She strode into the lobby with an air of confidence that she didn’t feel. Her dress was a low-cut sundress, short enough to be sexy without being slutty. She’d worn an expensive pair of heels and her best jewelry, which she’d inherited from her mother. Her dark brown hair and makeup were meticulous. She approached the desk with a printed copy of the email, just in case, and the desk girl greeted her politely.

“Welcome to Internet Famous Entertainment Management,” she said, “How can I help you?”

“Good morning,” Vivianne replied, “I have an appointment with Mr. Baker.”

The girl typed at her computer, nodded, and said, “Please take the elevator up to the sixteenth floor. The receptionist there will check you in.”

Vivianne clacked away on her heels without thanking the girl. She rode the elevator to the designated floor, where another girl checked her in and asked her to wait. A moment later, a man in a smart polo shirt pushed open the glass doors.

“Vivianne?” he asked, looking her over kindly, “Hello. I’m Brian Baker. Please, come in.”

Vivianne entered his office, where the man pulled out a comfortable chair for her, shook her hand, then seated himself across from her at his desk. The office practically reeked of money. Everything about it was plush and oozed upper-crust corporate wealth. Vivianne struggled to contain her excitement, focusing on the man across from her.

“Vixy,” he said, “May I call you Vixy?”

Vivianne nodded happily, saying, “Of course.”

“Vixy, our company keeps a close eye on up-and-coming influencers, like yourself, who are amassing the kind of following that our business partners can use to advertise their products and services. More and more, people are becoming desensitized to the old ways of advertising. People install ad blockers or just scroll right past the annoying little videos that used to work so well. Internet Famous Entertainment Management is known, the world over, for designing creative campaigns that grab the attention of social media users. Influencers and celebrities are the promotional partners of our day, and as such we’re always on the look-out for our next influencer client. I’ve invited you here, today, to offer you a spot on our elite list. You had some time to take a look at our site?”

“Yes, sir,” Vivianne said, “I love what you’re doing. The campaign you did for MaximumMike, with the national gym tour was really excellent,” she added, having memorized a couple of the highlighted campaigns from the site, “and I’d love to be involved in the work you’re doing.”

Mr. Baker beamed and said, “That’s great. We’d be really stoked to have you onboard, and I can promise you that this is a two-way street. Your following will grow exponentially, and in return our corporate sponsors will have access to your unique personality and reach. Our influencers get the best of everything, including plenty of free products, as well as commissions from sales that are a result of the campaigns we run on your behalf. I have a standard contract form. We’re offering you a one-year start-up deal. At the end of the contract, we’ll meet again to discuss the success of our campaigns and negotiate another deal. You can take the contract home and have your lawyer review it. I’ll send over a digital copy that you can sign and send back, if you feel that the terms are acceptable.”

He slid a heavy binder across the desk to Vivianne, who took the intimidating stack of legal wording. She hoped that she didn’t need an actual attorney to review it and sign off on anything. There was no way she could afford that. Hiding her fears, Vivianne took the binder and casually placed it on her lap, glancing at the fancy logo that read, “iFem.”

“Cool, right?” Baker asked, “Our marketing guys really are the best. You know, it’s a psychological thing. Our research has shown that capitalizing the second letter in the word is seen as trendier and more effective. It’s like the iPhone. The emphasis isn’t on the individual, because the individual isn’t what’s important to the company. The phone is what’s important and cool, not the user.”

Vivianne considered that. Fame. The fame was important.

“Thank you. I’ll have it reviewed as soon as possible,” she said, “and get it back to you. If everything looks good, when should I expect to hear from you again?”

Baker said, “We work quickly. Our creative teams have more stuff in the pipeline than we have influencers to work with. They’re really brilliant people with a proven track record. Assuming everything looks good on your end, we can start your first campaign by the end of the week. Our marketing team will meet with you to go over the details of the first campaign and get it rolling right away.”

Baker stood and extended his hand across the desk. Vivianne rose, shook it, and said, “Thank you, Mr. Baker. I’ll be in touch soon, one way or the other.”

Baker nodded and showed her out. As the elevator took her to the ground floor, Vivianne was already certain she’d sign the contract. She’d be a fool not to, she decided. This was everything she’d ever dreamed of! Her life of ease, travel, parties with famous and wealthy people, all of it was about to come true.


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