While perhaps not the greatest film ever made, Duplicity nevertheless touches upon a premise rarely used: corporate spying. ‘Corporate’ of course the key word in that term, lots of spying has been done in films, just little of it oriented toward gathering information that can be used to gain some advantage on the market over competitors. But a company’s undisclosed research data is a concrete entity; it can be stolen, leading to the question: what of the more subjective elements leading to a firm’s success on the market—branding, design, logos, and marketing campaigns? And what of the underworld below? William Gibson’s 2003 Pattern Recognition is the novel capturing this idea in a contemporary, corporate world.
Cayce is a ‘coolhunter’. At some conscious level she is aware of what logos or ideas will be popular and which not, and as such hires out her abilities to various companies, providing recommendations on their latest brand proposals. Contracted by a marketing consultant named called Blue Ant at the outset of Pattern Recognition, Cayce is asked to evaluate the latest logo designs for a London company. Once her evaluation is complete, however, her work is not done for Blue Ant. Brought on full-time by the CEO, a man named Bigend, Cayce is asked to track down the maker of indie films being leaked onto the internet. The films causing a serious buzz, Bigend gives Cayce an unlimited credit card and sends her off to find the creator. Where Cayce ends up, however, is anything but the corporate backroom.