Pledge, Turn, Prestige - The Snowden Pitch

Culture & Arts
re:publica 2014

Short thesis: 

Building on his 2013 re:publica talk “ I Palindrome I – you life is mine”, Marcus takes a look at how Edward Snowden has become one of the most evocative fictional characters of our time. Set in 2008, “The Snowden Pitch” takes the form of a formal presentation in which Marcus presents a narrative and strategic framework to senior members of the NSA and explores how using models such as “Pledge, Turn, Prestige”, “Limited Hangout Operations” and “Worked Shoots” the NSA could win the Internet.


“Come in closer because the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you” Now you see me.

Espionage is like magic. It’s full of deception and things happening in other places whilst you’re looking somewhere else. Like a good magic trick, good espionage will pull it’s audience in, show as many cards as possible and just when the audience thinks it knows what is going on the magician/spy will make something disappear.

“Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige”.The Prestige.

On the last weekend of 2013 Marcus was writing a list of things that had really annoyed him during the past 12 months. At the top of the list was Edward Snowden. Confused as to why this might be, he let his mind wander a little and found himself in a managed solutions office in Munich airport. He found himself in a meeting room with a beamer, notepads and a plate of biscuits.

It was 2008 and he’d been given a brief.

Four middle-aged gentlemen in suits enter the room, hands are shook, the door is locked and coffee is served. The senior man in the room repeats the terms of the meeting and then Marcus is asked to begin.

 “The Pledge, The Turn, The Prestige – The Snowden Pitch” is a fictional pitch presentation that approaches the NSA as if it were a client with unlimited budget, an image problem within the espionage community and explores Edward Snowden as the protagonist of the biggest worked shoot the world has ever seen.

The talk explores why the NSA would have done this, what they would have to gain and, more importantly, it considers that which we have not yet seen – The Prestige. 

stage 2
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 -
17:45 to 18:30