New AOL Policy Incorporates Satanic Code Words and Elf Metaphors

One arranged marriage to a Hellenic blogging empress and massive employee cull later, obsolescence-battling internet service AOL finally finds itself facing the music. But despite an 86% tumble in profits, chief executive and content cheerleader Tim Armstrong remains unflappably optimistic about the company's prospects. His plans might be bold, he acknowledges to The New York Times, but they're working!

Take, for example, the strategy referred to internally as "Project Devil":

Cutting the number of ads on AOL's home page to one from more than a dozen was among the "bold moves" that Mr. Armstrong frequently mentions. By reducing the clutter, the remaining ad is supposed to be more noticeable to consumers and desirable to advertisers.

[Jeff Levick, president of global advertising and strategy for AOL] said that the new format, called Project Devil, was working.

The aggressive brush-clearing extends well beyond just the homepage and staff:

Mr. Armstrong also made small adjustments at AOL, like tearing down the walls of his office in New York, where the company is based, to be more approachable. A conference room was renamed "The 100 Percent," a poke at the perpetually enthusiastic Mr. Armstrong, who often says "100 percent" instead of "yes."

Metaphors pour out when Mr. Armstrong talks. Sports, Vikings and magical elves are just some of his rhetorical inspirations.

The entire business plan makes a lot more sense if you think of AOL as the Shire and declining dial-up subscriptions as the Eye of Sauron. One, mighty swing of Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, and profitability is all but theirs. 100 percent they can! [NYT, screengrab via AOL]