Marketing Guy: Mmmm Hmmm.
New Strain: See, my kind just isn't popping these days. We've been overshadowed by West Nile Virus and other sicknesses. I'm tired of being overlooked. I need something hot!
Marketing Guy: Hmmm.
New Strain: I mean, I want to be on CNN 24 hours a day. I want the media to jump all over me like I was, I dunno, AIDS or something back in the 80s.
Marketing Guy: Mmmm Hmmm. Yeah. You know what you need?
New Strain: No, what?
Marketing Guy: You need a name!
New Strain: Whadda mean? I'm the flu. Isn't that enough?
Marketing Guy: Nah. Not these days. Remember, we're living in a tough world. New, flashy, superficial names get all the attention. Dramatic music accompanies news events. Even 30-second stories on TV are cut and pasted together just like MTV videos. You need something eye-grabbing.
This is a cynical society. People are losing their jobs. Whole companies are crashing. Newspapers are dying. There isn't much that will shake people up these days.
New Strain: Mmmm Hmmm.
Marketing Guy: I gotta be honest with ya. Sure, you're very contagious, and you could be pretty serious, and no one should take you lightly. But you really don't seem that bad. I mean, most people who get you just get flu-like symptoms, right? And they're OK after a couple days? Just like the other strains of flu?
New Strain: (Sighs). Yeah. I was working on that. I've been working out, trying to mutate and all, but....
Marketing Guy: Hey, kid, don't worry (pats him on shoulder). The thing is, the flu kills thousands every year. I'm sure you'll get your share. The thing is, there's really nothing that separates you from the regular flu other than the fact that you seem to be able to spread really quickly.
Marketing Guy: So you know what all these new illnesses had? A name! AIDS. West Nile Virus. SARS. Even your kind got a great endorsement deal because of a catchy name. What was that, um...(snaps fingers several times).
New Strain: Bird Flu?
Marketing Guy: THAT'S IT! BIRD Flu! Catchy. Scary. People were already afraid of things in they sky coming to get them after 9/11. Bird Flu. Genius. It was perfect.
New Strain: So....um....
Marketing Guy: Wait a minute. WAIT A MINUTE! Think of an animal! How about....a cow?
New Strain: Um....
Marketing Guy: No, not a cow. We've already had Mad Cow Disease. How about...a snake?
New Strain: Hmmm....
Marketing Guy: No, everyone hates snakes. Too risky. They might try to wipe you out in no time. You don't want to be a supervillian, kid, just scary.
New Strain: I dunno.
Marketing Guy: Wait. WAIT. I got it! I GOT IT! What's dirty and produces really tasty meats that are bad for you? What rolls around in its own feces? SWINE! SWINE FLU! Ha haaaaaa. It's PERFECT!
New Strain: Swine Flu? I dunno.
Marketing Guy: Trust me, kid, it's perfect. You'll be all over CNN in no time. I wonder if we could get Yo-Yo-Ma to play a haunting Philip Glass theme by tomorrow?
New Strain: Swine? What about "Babe" or Wilbur from "Charlotte's Web?"
Marketing Guy: Those were movies, kid. This is real life. Swine it is.