* Welcome to The Big Jewel, sort of the Mount Olympus of literary humor sites -- if Mount Olympus existed. Or if literary humor existed, for that matter. We believe it does. We believe in Norman Birnbach, almost as much as he believes in the Gods of ancient Greece.

The Gods Must Be Rebranded

By: Norman Birnbach

Good morning, Gods & Goddesses of Olympus. We are honored to be here, and honored to be chosen to help you with your branding — it’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity.

Before we get started, some housekeeping rules — don’t worry, this isn’t about actual housekeeping; it’s just ground rules for how this session should work. We want this to be informal and interactive but not too casual, Zeus Who Thunders On High. The first rule of brainstorms is that there are no bad ideas. Please keep that in mind before you feel the urge to shoot the messenger, strike us with lightning, turn us into stone or otherwise smite us — all of which go against the primal spirit of the brainstorm. Can we get agreement from everyone on that?

Also we can make changes to anything we discuss today because nothing is written in stone…Unless, of course, you prefer it that way. Sorry, that’s a joke; we know you prefer parchment. You’re not Babylonians, after all. But this might be a good time to remind you that each of you signed an NKA — No Killing Agreement.

Situation Analysis
The good news: You’re doing much better than competitors like the Egyptian and Roman gods. Few know the names of more than a couple of Egyptian gods, and the only reason people know the names of the Roman gods is because the planets were named after them. Mortals know the Romans are Lady Gaga to your Madonna (sorry, not that Madonna). Without you, they’d be nothing. We wouldn’t waste our time talking with them.

But the bad news is that, although the twelve of you have captivated humanity’s imagination for thousands of years, collectively you are facing your biggest-ever threat. Bigger than the Titans and more dangerous than Cronos. Although they are taught Greek mythology in elementary school, kids today are in awe of something they feel is more powerful, more alluring and more magical.

It’s Screen Time.

To combat this, we feel that you need to do more than insert yourselves into modern-day situations. Reality TV shows like “Last God Standing” or “Dancing with the Gods” or sitcoms like “It’s Always Sunny on Olympus” or “Two and a Half Gods” might work for a few years, but eventually even good sitcoms get canceled, and then what?

Meanwhile, getting you to embrace social media would be a major fail: Imagine — Zeus of the Thunderbolt, asking mere humans to “like” you on Facebook. You don’t want them to like you. You want them to fear you.

Instead, you need a 21st-century solution to remain relevant: you need to pivot and rebrand yourselves. But before we get to those recommendations, we want to address the Minotaur in the room.

We’ve looked into stories about you, Mighty Zeus, mostly regarding your affairs with mortal women, all of which ended badly. For them. No one really cares about that — sorry, Queen Hera, of course they matter. But I’m talking about the brand. Today’s generation is concerned about your anger issues. I mean, chaining Prometheus to a rock and having his liver eaten by an eagle for eternity — just because he gave mankind fire. It’s not like he gave us the Internet or, worse, deflated some footballs. They want an easygoing god.

Recommendations: Cultural Change
A change in day-to-day leadership can put the scandals behind you. Look, we have tremendous respect for what you’ve done, O Zeus, Lord of the Sky, as god of lightning. You’ve been an inspired choice as supreme ruler of Olympus. But after a couple of millennia, it’s time for a significant change to address a significant enemy.

Appointing a new CEO — Chief Executive Olympian — shows a willingness to engage with millennials, and demonstrates significant cultural change. Meanwhile, O Father Zeus, you get promoted to Chairman of Olympus. Out of the day-to-day grind. Freeing you to develop a comprehensive vision for what Olympus can be. You get to delegate the less-fun responsibilities to someone else.

After careful consideration, we found two candidates:

• Poseidon, ruler of the (inter)net. After all, who has more experience with web surfing?

• Narcissus, a demi-god — but having fallen in love with his own image makes him ideal for a much-needed new spot: god of social media, particularly selfies — perfect for appealing to the millennial zeitgeist.

For the rest of you, we focus-grouped some concepts to update your powers and personas to be millennial-friendly. Most of these recommendations are minor – certainly compared to having to upgrade Egyptian gods like Thoth, the half-ibis god of knowledge, or Horus, the half-falcon god of the sky; that assignment would drive us cuckoo. Your new responsibilities are summed up in this PowerPoint chart (but please note that PowerPoint has nothing to do with the actual powers; it’s just the name of the software we used):

Name Old Power Rebranded Power
Aphrodite Goddess of love, beauty and desire Goddess of online dating
Apollo God of prophecy God of TV & online pundits
Ares God of war God of Worlds of Warcraft
Artemis Goddess of the hunt Goddess of Internet search & deals-of-the-day sites
Athena Goddess of wisdom & intelligence Goddess of Wikipedia
Demeter Goddess of the harvest Goddess of online grocery shopping (Demeter prefers you use paper)
Dionysus God of wine, parties & drunkenness God of wine, parties & drunkenness
Hades King of the Underworld God of hard drive failure & smartphones older than 36 months
Hera Goddess of women and marriage Goddess of women and marriage — excluding mom jeans, minivans, and girls’ nights out
Hermes God of travel, messengers & commerce God of iMessage, eCommerce & cashless wallets
Hephaestus God of metalworking and crafts God of Etsy and eBay
The Sirens Their voices lure passing sailors to crash their ships into rocks and drown Their…um, other charms enchant men to surf for porn and crash their computers on viruses

Please note: Even in a rebranded Olympus, there is no god of privacy and no hipster god.

If this basic premise works for you, next we will work on key messages. So we’re on the same page, Jesus has “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Buddha has his Four Noble Truths. You had, basically, “honor us and get rewarded” or “dishonor us and get turned into a cow.” Together, we can develop a message that works for today’s generation.