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A Mashup for Managers
In Loving Memory
Isobel Brown (1919-2008)
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead
Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding . Tony.Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony.
mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix.1 Twenty years hence.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. A great mascot. however. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. Andersen and Adams. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. They are the embodiment of the brand. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. The totem poles of native Americans. is a universal trait. dance steps . Chicago Bears. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. Whether it be Hello Kitty or Joe Camel or Flat Eric or the Duracell bunny or the Aflac duck or the Dulux sheepdog or the Andrex puppy or the corpulent M&Ms candies or the totemic Jolly Green Giant or the sainted Ronald McDonald. presumably. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. Apuleius. one and all. It is ancient and ineradicable. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. like Tony the Tiger. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. Anthropomorphism. I don’t know. We may learn to love “Mandeville” and “Wenlock” and wonder why on earth anyone would want to describe them as “insipid extras from some Pixar spin-off”.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. pig. How he got in my pyjamas. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. through the mildly pornographic “two giant mutated phalluses” to the positively unpleasant “looks like someone spat on the ground and draped a Union Jack over it”. as are our haircuts (pony-. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. There’s one thing I do know for certain. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. the constellations in the heavens. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Sydney Swans).and duck-tails). They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. We’re anthropomanes.
It helps us identify potential predators. Getting it right means survival. welfare. it is a developmental trait. animal spirits. Fables. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. getting ducks in a row. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. men on the moon. computer games (EyePet. orbiting hairballs. apes in the corner office. self- . SimAnimal. with brains. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. Whether it be Charles Darwin’s analyses of “animal emotions” or Richard Dawkins’ so-called “selfish gene” or the demonstrable fact that the more “attractive” the animal the more likely it is to be studied by naturalists.(foxtrot. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. associated with childhood in particular.5 What’s more. emotions. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. find that this is much easier said than done. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. Ninja Turtles). long tails.9 Business organisations. furthermore. dead dogs. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. breathing. hidden hands. Needless to say. its ubiquity is not in doubt. cash cows. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied.3 For some. For others. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. big hairy audacious goals. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. storytelling squirrels and so forth. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. it is a form of wish fulfilment inasmuch as humankind makes sense of strange and alien surroundings by assuming that the human and non-human worlds are congruent. tarantella). Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. are routinely regarded as organisms. cartoon strips (Peanuts. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years.6 Even natural scientists. consciousness. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. for example). Far Side. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. lungs.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. which considers our earth to be a living. hive minds. because it is in our best interest to do so. If anything. Fred Basset). black swans. fat cats. graphic novels (Maus. cheese moving mice. hearts. bunny hop. limbs and the like.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. Angry Birds). dancing elephants. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge.
A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. Wind in the Willows. Brer Rabbit. is to educate as well as entertain. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. is “alive inside”. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. much as I hate the neologism. Winnie-the-Pooh.11 Viewed in this context. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. Or. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. insofar as it features a secondary world. Squirrel Inc. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent.regulating entity. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. Meanwhile. after a fashion.10 Indeed. . this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. The Way of the Rat. flirt. Its ultimate aim. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. managers and would-be marketing managers. albeit a Shrek with advertising characters like Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog instead of fairytale characters such as the Gingerbread Man and Three Little Pigs. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. moreover. It’s a work. much less White Fang. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. However. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. Undergraduate students especially. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. much to the relief of consumers. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. Guinness. the legendary American adman. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. the very idea of the corporation rests on the 1862 ruling that a company is a person with all the legal rights of a human being. flourish and fight for the right to party. forage. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. Black Beauty. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. say. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. Watership Down. of edutainment for marketers.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. Who Moved My Cheese?. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. There are lots of books about brands and branding. both tearful and terrifying. As such.13 This is a book about brand mascots. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. But many of them lack pizzaz. to be more precise.
if one makes a move (new feature. Just for you. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste.14 I’m conscious. The best loved brands. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. of antipathy. have been around for a very long time. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. for fear of being left behind. is quintessence. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. facts and more facts. They have to be convinced. Products and services do not sell themselves. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. by and large. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. The fifth P. however. Persuasion is the key word here. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. are inherently conservative (raving fans. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. it is matched forthwith. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. frankly. not to say a “take-away” or two. cajoled. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. The theories. They increase output. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. Action-minded by inclination. To Thy Own Brand Be True. shake things up and refresh the brand. Worse. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. Consumers. Managers feel the need to make changes. though. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent.15 The Fifth P is a Q. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. It is also true of principles. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. the epitome. especially so). All the way to Clone City. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. The Customer is Always Right Wing. better yet.As a storyteller. of out-and-out obstinacy. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. becoming the embodiment. Hopefully. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. they are prone to the next big thing thing. new product. in the mass. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. the exemplification of that niche. like the fifth element. they . new offer. hive minds and what have you. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. persuaded. new platform. they extend the range. prosumers. Less is Sore. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. The go-to brand. long before customers feel that way. They don’t need more of anything. new whatever). The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. In a world of identikit products and services. The Next Big Thing Thing. however. then. all of which are functionally equivalent. in short. though.
right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. Campaign. “Crocodile” Dundee. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. there’s one other issue. “reification”. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. free gifts. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. as was the dismayed £ sign. 2. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”.make the products more readily available. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. as academics like me are inclined to do. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. 2010. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. Thomas the Tank Engine). But it’s important to appreciate that gimmicks are part and parcel of marketing – pretty important parts and parcels – for the very simple reason that gimmicks work. Oh yeah. Donald Duck). The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. Dumbo. likewise. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. Richard the Lionheart). p. Strictly speaking. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. the brand may benefit in the long term. 2010 Notes and References 1. Reduced availability increases desire. targeting the child within is no bad thing. Thumper.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. 4 June.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. 31. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. . I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. 2010. “Money”. special offers and so forth are one way in which brands can retain their integrity/identity/positioning while ringing the changes and making things happen. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. 4. for instance). so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. is not to be sneezed at. 3. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. Zoomorphism is the opposite. But don’t take my word for it. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. nostalgia-prone world. The Observer. 23 May. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. Christine. Childishness. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. p. However. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. see Matt Williams.
Images of Organization. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. The Sunday Times. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. According to Morgan Trimble. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. the key statement is John S. 2005). Kennedy. This book. nevertheless. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. 14. 7. 10. See. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. . the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. 9. “Scientists are people too. 1998. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. 2010. Naturally. London. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. 1993). Needless to say. 2007). insipid. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. pp. 215). 12. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole.4. 24 (3). The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. nowhere is the copy-cat character of corporate life better illustrated than in the recent fad for storytelling! Whereas slogans are passé and mission statements old hat. “If you want to survive. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. Cambridge. 2009). 11. London. 14. 13. Gareth Morgan. p. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. New York. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. 23 May. p. 15. London. 8. the character may well go global in due course. Oxford. 1992). But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. for example. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. London. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. 2010. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. by all accounts. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. 19. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. John Berger. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. London. 2006). It’s full of animal errors. don’t be ugly…be cute”. Journal of Consumer Research. “Smarter than you think”. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. stories are on the up and up. 6. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. They fail to appreciate that conflict. 17 January. The companies acts. Richard Conniff. 343-373. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. 2005). Faces in the Clouds (OUP. 2008) and Tony Thorne. Lions. The Observer. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. updated edition (Sage. BTW. They are bland at best and boring at worst. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. soporific and so forth. 5. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. it’s not completely inaccurate either. are second to none. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. Incidentally.
bottled water.16. though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification.). It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. etc. . salt. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. sugar and so on).
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
” Exasperated. was almost as well known as . trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. beakaplasty. “It’s a Silo & Roy. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. gloves. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. bending this way and that. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. The fad started innocently enough. figure-hugging. for one. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. hot to trot. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. Paris. “Pelican pink is so this season. She had more important things on her mind. Not only were they completely unnecessary. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. you know. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. Pounds too. The S&R logo. berets. “I’m not sure pink suits you. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies.” she said. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. what do you think? Am I way cool. She needn’t have bothered. Silo and Roy. a joint venture with Versace. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. Fashion. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. struggling to keep her face straight. “Hmmm.” Paris pouted.” The tease worked. She twisted and turned. Bella Adélie shook her head. “Seriously. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. one-piece costumes. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear.
It’s delish. which was tantamount to tropical. some said. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. An egomaniac. the sky was blue. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. she twirled. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. whirled. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. kicked up a heel. The sea was calm. She adored McDonald’s. iPods to dolphins. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. she was a bit roomy at the rear. “I’m sorry. admiring her outfit. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that.” Bella mumbled. crunchy crustaceans. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. you should be more careful. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty.” Paris stuttered. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. Bella.” She said it without thinking. “With your genes.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day.Armani’s stylised eagle. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. the wind was light. darling.” Bella replied lightly. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . Or several. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. A sob stuck in her crop. in truth. I’m lovin it. “Mmmmm. as she so often did. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. But Bella knew better. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. For all her selfabsorption. simpered. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. Mmmmm.” Paris warned. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. Consequently. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. and share a McFlurry with the great man. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. smiled. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. the temperature hovered around freezing. You should try some of this. others contended. yet others complained. Paris. Bella. a spoiled rich kid.
“No can do. “Okay. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. her gene pool. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. Brown was the new black. Except that pink was now in. Casting next week. much better than black. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. They’re making another Madagascar movie. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. “What do you reckon?” she called. Penguin porn degrades our species. black and more black. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris. “Get this down your gullet. I trust. You’re coming with me to the food court. I’ve got something for you. flicking open the Happy Meal container. flipper on hip. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy.” Bella commanded. Be honest. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. Okay. sniggering. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. surely you know that. Paris. “Don’t be a silly billy. Darling. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest.” “Oh goodie. bar none. Gastric band. Cerise was chichi. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring.” Bella said. posing provocatively. But Paris declined. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. Clearly.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. She did. fast later.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. in fact. I won’t take no for an answer. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. starve now. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. On the contrary. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. like hedge-hopping rainbows. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. Paris.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. They looked delicious. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. preened and paused every so often to fling open her outfit for the fantasy A-listers in the front row and the admiring ranks of imaginary photographers at the end of the runway. Bella. Bella. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. Right now. Paris wiped her eyes.” “What. her uniqueness. A gift? Tiffany. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion.” . where elephant seal pups frolicked.asked. “Come here immediately.” Paris exploded with laughter. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. admittedly.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. “Here. if she was related to a leopard seal.
” “Whatever you say. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there.“And the drastic gastric band. right?” “Le Tigre. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway.” Bella knew very well. “Grrrrrrrr. you know how it is in showbiz.” the soon-to-be superstar said. hoping against hope that . I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. “Grrr. Bella mused. Penguinapping is commonplace.” “Well. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. Bella. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. as anyone would. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. oblivious to the threat. maybe?” “Um. The role’s already in the bag. “I always carry one. apparently. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. She knew that the part was hers. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. tossed her up into the air. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan.” “Grrrr. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. “It won’t take long. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind.” Filling up. flicking out her feet in a perfect imitation of the supermodel strut – all rolled hips and raised knees and clippity-cloppity gait – then came to an abrupt halt at the end. “Tell you what. as was the polar predator’s wont. She got to the end and surveyed the scene.” “No.” Paris doth protest too much.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. Panic stricken. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. Her face was a frozen mask. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna. She turned to her companion on shore. never mind “this’ll do fine”. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types.” Bella shouted back. if not before. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. just in case. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines. They’ve been performing since incubation.” she said with an apologetic smirk. Paris hugged her mottled companion. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. I’ll be fine. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. Grrrrr.
. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. A dismembered limb. indeed. she fished the outfit out. Sodden. Tearful. To die for. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. Ripped. Bloodstained. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. Aghast. There was no sign of life. Bella wept. her designer pride and joy. Bella took a closer look. bitten and bloody. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit.
overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. Blamed. overcome with grief. and emerged huffing and puffing.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. bands of blackfoots. stumbled toward the shoreline. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. bellowing elephant seals. the agglomeration was completely silent. hushed. more likely. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. the views were spectacular. No parent. A microphone screeched. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. belching. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. weeping all the while. as everyone knows. With a heavy heart. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. like stones across a millpond. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. perhaps. Oddly. The sun was stronger. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. onto its snow-strewn top. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. in the lee of the LG glacier. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. penguins of every imaginable breed. Reported to the penguin police force. Gentoos. Picking up speed as they descended. In more ways than one. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. Distraught. clusters of chinstraps. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. where she paused to catch her breath. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . Stifling a sob. species and stripe. she clambered up the ice steps. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. expectant. nevertheless. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. What else could she do? It was her duty. There were knots of kings. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay.
which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. It was magnificent. husky or not. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. as the star took to the stage. lying. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. nodding their approval. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby.multitudes. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. Lookin’ good. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. “This. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. she had no alternative. cheating layabouts. bloated. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack.. Until the crowd closed up. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. though. double-dealing. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. A few snooty royals turned to attack. Not never.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. “Nice outfit. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. S&R. Bella ignored the crackpot celebrity’s irresponsible rant – it was the usual right wing nonsense about breeding and purity and bloodlines and ethological cleansing – while steering a course through the tightly packed penguins. Although she was well used to hostility. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. Devils in disguise. BrandLand. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . Her rate of progress improved immediately. Her presence was not appreciated. who were no-good. “is Dr Dogeatdog. Not now. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. Curiously. the sapphire-studded collar. bitch. His crest. the carefully clipped pelt. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. They couldn’t be trusted. As the long way round would have taken forever. some bristled their feathers. blubbery macaroni. Hesitantly.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood.. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. Whatever happened. in other words. blether. Penguins are out of fashion. “ACME. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. Out. ACME. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. the worst in living memory. The penguin brand is overexposed. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. however. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. Out. ACME. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. ACME’s chief executive. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. Out.” Dogeatdog reported. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. Penguins have saturated the market. Charlie the Tuna. The kings kept their own council. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot. Penguins have jumped the shark. has concluded that a cull is called for. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. ACME. on account of the drastic economic recession. Emperors exploded in anger. Worse was to come from the canine. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. Over. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . Out. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. The bubble of blarney. Worse. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. A 10% cull. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they.” The uproar was indescribable. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. Out. oversold. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance.” Screeches of feedback. ACME. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. ACME. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. the legendary Mr Kipling. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. “Six weeks ago. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. bluster. Shouts of “ACME. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. and that’s saying something. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. Out. they’d be okay. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. overstretched. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. to be precise.
Good day to you all. as the order’s most overexposed species.” Momentarily cowed by the demagogue’s balefful glare – his bright-red bloodshot eyes were almost demonic with ruthless determination – the crowd muttered and cursed and argued among themselves. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. a blessing in disguise. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. He announced that his own macaronis. There were no dissenting voices. if the least high profile. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. No penguin pain. He reported that the emperors. We’ve cornered the mascot market. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. We’ve got to face facts. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. Indeed. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. “the last few years have been good for us. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. No. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy.” he began. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. No. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. his voice a low-throated rumble.” Ever the showman.” The big screen went blank. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. “Fellow penguins. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. The multitude fell silent once more. It was a done deal. his raddled face set in serious mien. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull.” Le Penguin croaked. They know what needs to be done. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.term. “Brothers and sisters. he paused for effect. Why would there be? . We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. chinstraps and gentoos. The decision is yours. However. by far the most populous penguin species. no penguin gain. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. We’ve got to get back to basics. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing.
they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. Petrified. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. On the contrary. they’d taken pride in their otherness. Bella jumped feet first into the void. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. with murder in mind. it came pretty close. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. There was no time to waste. She didn’t like heights at the best of times and dropping from a very great height at very high speed was her very worst nightmare. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. Bella stared into the chasm. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. anything. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. There was only one thing for it. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. The superslick surface. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. however. Her parents were dead meat. breathing heavily. Bella was falling behind. was almost entirely frictionless. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. pitch-black ice tunnel. it was a death trap. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. She had to warn them. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. their marvellously mottled appearance. their difference. It may have been a plaything for juvenile gentoos – an extreme sport chute – but it was the only way she could get to her parents before the baying mob of macaronis and their blackfoot backups. she closed . She had to do something. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. The rookery nook. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. Digging in her heels made no difference. rockhoppers. Paris’s parents would have to wait.
probably. skimming. deserted. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. most likely. Excitedly. yet with a mounting sense of dread. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. It was completely devoid of life. And failed. disturbed the eerie silence. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. panting with exhaustion. A dirty rotten rat. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. They’d been taken away and taken out. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. The wetsuit. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. it wasn’t a wall. A petrel. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. twitching. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. It stopped. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. Some nests were still warm. Then stopped. Ffffffft. Luckily. was ripped to shreds. Then started again. Bella cried out. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. though. Something was moving. she advanced toward the creature. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. close to her parents’ nest. Flippers fully extended. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. backing it into a corner. carooming. Anguished. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. They’d been rounded up already. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. you slimy son of a sheathbill. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. She screeched and tried to stop. She didn’t know which way to turn. “I’ve got you now. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. Fffft. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. in the community’s communal crèche. but a great divide in the path. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing.” . she clambered over the rocky detritus. possibly. She opened her eyes fractionally. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. A large leopard seal loomed before her. Fffft. Ffft. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. A crab. Ffffft. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. licking his lips. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. Our Flipper. hunched behind a boulder. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. Ffft.
of course. all things considered.” Orlov said. Taken aback. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. bless his cotton candy socks. “Sleepy. Very.” the penguin snarled. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family.” he drawled. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. elbow up – then casually blew a cloud of noxious smoke in the face of his would-be assailant. the proud possessor of 600. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. I don’t know who you are. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year. I think you have. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. at your service. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. you understand. though the exact direction didn’t really matter.” he sighed. 32. You are feeling sleepy. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. Not in a good way. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. We know a .” “Oh. my dear. dragging deeply. you disgusting wetback. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. Very. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression.000 Facebook friends. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. sharp-faced. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. I am the face of a price comparison website. London’s over there somewhere. “You.” Bella was at a loss. The Russian steppes are thataway.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. but I am big in Britain and Russia and. “How dare you address me like that. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. Sleepy. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. Sleepy. the slender-torsoed. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. erect-eared. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. “Modesty forbids.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack.” Bella was baffled. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica.6 million hits on my homepage.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder.000 Twitter followers and 3. Towering head and shoulders above her. “Aleksandr Orlov. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. a radio talk-show compère. “I haven’t finished with you yet. My catchphrase is Simples. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere.” he drawled.” “Simples?” “Simples. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. With a so-what show of indifference.Astonishingly. trying her best to appear menacing.
” Bella started to step aside. as if taking in the cave for the first time.” But Bella beat him to it. Flat Eric’s been there. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. ripped and ragged. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. meerkat. They looked resolute. But I prefer not to mix with the. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. “Well. Not so Simples now. Flippers on hips. “since you put it like that. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Hit singles. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. However. Advertising awards. “Too late. right beside the isabelline refuge. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based.” He made to go. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. He looked around. “Suit yourself. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. They’re here. where she’d left it. I’m looking for someone. It’s a life-long learning. much less dun-coloured rodents. “He was a sort of soft toy. she blocked his path.” “I see. Two species are better than one. perhaps we could pool our resources. a sock puppet.” “Mmmmm. if you must know. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME.” Bella shook her head.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. The S&R wetsuit lay.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. um. not to say subliminal advertising. “I don’t think so. “Simples.” Orlov looked at Bella askance.” he said. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. she was first in line for the chop.” With a glottal gabble. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. Are you going to explain yourself or am I going to poke out those pretty little eyes of yours with this big bad beak of mine?” The aristocratic rodent showed no dismay at the failure of his mesmerism demonstration. Enormous name recognition. avian classes. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. “Flat Eric.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach.thing or two about hypnotism. Nor did Orlov. he dropped off the grid. He knows the score. Though I should perhaps warn you that a crowd of angry emperors is heading this way and they’re not renowned for their goodwill toward dappled animals.” He winked. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. . stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave. “Sorry.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. We meerkats are social animals. As the only mottled penguin in residence.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
Bella snuggled in behind him and.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. suspecting a trap. scampering. They paused at the mouth of the cave. tear. ever-upward. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. Every second was precious. blocking out the bright sunlight. Orlov seized the moment.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. Indomitable.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. She could hear them discussing their strategy.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery.and snow-filled shaft. There’s still a bit of discrimination. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. uncompromising. And bickering amongst themselves. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. as he excavated ever-faster. We didn’t think we needed it any more. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. he was off. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. mercifully. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. scurrying.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. There was no escape. Their bulk. adélies are much more petite than emperors. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. determined. don’t you know. She struggled to keep up. Bella shook her head. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. but nothing like it used to be. I can’t believe it’s not butter. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. “Well. who stopped again. “Meerkats. . which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. clawing like crazy. although the fit was tight. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. you flat-footed fool. stab. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. There was no way those monsters could follow. “Let’s go. searching for the ice. they said. The old enmities are behind us.
though. you know. Orlov scampered alongside. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. digging.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. They march for months on end. if you’ve had enough for one day. The reshoots were ridiculous. “When danger calls. However. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. Orlov said nothing. You have a lot in common. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. allegedly. “The rookery’s thataway. I’ll accompany you for a little while. apparently.” he observed. Gallantly. then it’s midnight through September. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. claymation models.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. It must be adhered to rigorously. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. Their feet sank in with a hiss. not a penguin. through the worst of the winter. Pity. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . dropping down on all fours. but ACME is not on my agenda. You’ll have a lot to talk about. “Forgive me. darting back. They’re big girl’s blouses.” With a heavy sigh. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. The man’s a slave driver. body doubles. The snow squeaked as they walked. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation.” Bella snorted. my dear. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. dashing forward. blocking her path. Stand-ins. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. sometime in the middle of April. digging. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. They’re famous for it. He fell into step beside Bella. Or earshot. Orlov just kept digging. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. even more gallantly. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. They had a lot of reshoots too. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. The place was deserted. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. My routine is sacrosanct. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. Enjoy the twilight while you can. not a skua. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. Simples. The thin crust gave way from time to time. “dandies discard. frankly. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance.” Chastened for the moment. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. digging. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. he spluttered.” Agitated. “Oh. They never let anyone forget it. “Impossible. not a shearwater in sight. “Sundown?” she scoffed.
It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. You’re a minx. pointing into the distance.” Orlov inveigled. they ploughed on. You mocked the master. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. still with snow under the nails. “What’s that?” he said. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind.” “The simples minded. “Explain yourself. Minxes and lynxes .” “My paws were cold.” Bella said. bigger than a mangy moggy. Smaller than a snow leopard. “The bear is completely under my power. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about.” She made to move on. snoring loudly. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. A black dot was coming towards them. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. Bravely.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. On me. Do you believe me now. “Louis the Lynx. A wild cat. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. apart from a slight headache. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. Chins tucked in. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. perhaps. “Yes. Orlov stopped suddenly. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. It was feline. the meerkat refused to budge. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. But you didn’t believe me. Let me know how you get on. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. preventing further progress.” Bella apologised. “It was because it didn’t work. “I like a bird with spirit. “I told you I could do it. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. I think you’re my kind of penguin. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. fast asleep. that is.” Louis meowed throatily. Smirking. at your service. Let’s wake him. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. sleepy.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. Poleaxed. that’s what you are. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. Astounded. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. so far from home.” he purred.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. I’m out of here. He rose up on his hind legs. Bounding towards them at top speed. It works on everyone. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal.
were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”
“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”
Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales
red.” Orlov boasted. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went.territories. Orlov lit up. I read Wikipedia incessantly. hope. Plus. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. But she wasn’t quick enough. lions that sing show tunes. advertising. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. sensing a stay of Axecution. a brand in a highly competitive market. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. They are anthropomorphomaniacs.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. They make movies about mice that speak. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. so selling to them is the next natural step. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. putting poor critters down. “How come you know so much about marketing. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to.” Orlov smiled. Lurchers. Anything before B he was unbeatable. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. with a grin. anyhow?” “Simples. moreover. moreover. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. . how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. adélies. Louis laughed out loud. extermination. Even his chortle was charming. wildlife programmes in particular.” “Hmmmm. Ask yourself. he was a busted flush. When you put it like that. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. You test the things on animals. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines.” “Hey. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. since Axe carries connotations of execution. A sexy smelly shampoo. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. Lhasa Apsos and the like. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. “don’t knock it. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. my dear boy. as Neolithic cave art attests. I can see the campaign now. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. don’t you. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. Louis asked. We’re built on a bubble of belief. the bigger and nastier the better. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. Anything after. “Anthropomorphism. “Correct.” Louis chuckled.” Louis mused. They are inclined to see themselves in other species.” Bella quipped. crows that crack jokes. desire. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. not that there’s much else to admire. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing.
Or a meow meow overdose. scratching occasionally. She tried to resist. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse.” he said. well. With an almighty roar. she wondered. He thinks I’m the fox. Or Freudian psychosis. The earth quaked. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. Feathers? . was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. though. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. like a karaoke Krakatoa.” Orlov observed dryly. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting.” The group descended into grumpy silence. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers.” “You suggested no such thing. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. He’s been plagued for years by an annoying cartoon fox that’s trying to reclaim its own-name mints and depose the bear from its perch on top of the crystalline confectionary.What do they put into their toiletries. the moraine started moving.” Louis was at a loss. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. I wanted to rouse it. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. Bella wondered. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. Penguins pong pretty bad. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. “Actually. understandably. the hillock erupted. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. His eyesight is not what it was. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. perhaps. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. “Yes. I couldn’t shake him off. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. she looked around. He’s not best pleased. the Romanovs. A joint venture. Bella felt sleepy. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. Their shelter.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. What wild accusations. Louis. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. Bella and Louis said nothing. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. Eyes drooping. “it was all a mistake. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch.” Orlov said testily. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. cruel culling. Has been for years and years. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about. You tried to run off. Mmmmm.
as for Andersen. Unscented. with poststructuralist precision. Everyone knows zat.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. they might even end up where they wanted to be. He knew his Ali Baba too and. if it’s not out of your way. while hopping from foot to foot. “I am Roc. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights.” the Roc crowed. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. isn’t it?” he said. “Three wishes. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. “How far can you take us.” Orlov insisted.” “No. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. “Zat I can.” Bella added. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. Not only were they getting somewhere. Flipper. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. It wasn’t every day that an economy line of masculine personal care products encountered an exclusive range of fancy French feminine beauty aids and accessories. none of which are tested on ze animals. “Well. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD. as well as Aesop. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. Bella chanced her arm. “Zis is not BrandLand. uh. Lord of ze skies. “SoHo.” Louis said. “But this is BrandLand. s’il vous plait.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. Zis .” “So. Ally of Aladdin. “Zat is so. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. it isn’t. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. rather. if not quite charm the birds from the trees.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. “We have three wishes. no less.” Gallic to its wingtips. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. Having watched the negotiations in silence. Hans Christian.” the creature conceded. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. face creams. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. with a smirk. flapped them vigorously.” “Zat is impossible. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. Encouraged. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. Companion to Marco Polo.” Bristling. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie.” “Zat I am. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days.
“We’ll make our own way from there.” he sniffed. as yet untouched by civilisation.is a mere dominion.” . “is Adarctica.” “D’Accord.” Orlov commanded.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. Zis. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. a contiguous territory.
followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. taking in the scene. And we’re not talking Dumbos. heading north. They dismounted shakily. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm.” “Yeah. Within a few minutes. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. lake-dappled lowland. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. lay spread-eagled beneath them. then took off vertically. then invited the threesome to mount. and advertisers don’t either.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. as its tagline proclaimed. with a disbelieving look. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. Orlov. as her mother often observed. Wings fully extended. The storm-tossed. Far from being dropped from a very great height. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow.” Louis said. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. A driving tail wind. Beckoning. never mind jumbo jets. sat calmly. Isabellines can’t be choosers. it flapped once or twice. eventually. inviting. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. Having read up on aeronautics. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. Many hours later. The meerkat glared at him. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. And then some. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. the bird-borne party was above the storm. by contrast. in all its magnificence. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. don’t travel claw class. “If it offers us a choice of seating. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. BrandLand. . he knew there was nothing to fear. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. captivating. snow-capped mountain ranges. aerobatics. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. Clinging on for grim life.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. the trio was taken by the scenic route. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. into the eye of the snowstorm. Back-beating furiously.” “According to ancient myth and legend. With a low rumble of discontent. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. rising thermals.
took over in his most schoolmistressy manner.” it said. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. Our task is to get to Madhattan. The Roc refused to elaborate. We’ve only had one wish.” the big bird boomed. One wish per passenger. pronto. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned.” With that. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. “And we’re not on vacation.” Louis enthused. My contract is complete. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. Pop and similar elfish creatures. “Steer clear of ze jungle.” “Can’t you count. and make Mr Kipling see sense. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. swirling. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district. We might learn much from big biomass brands.” “This isn’t a theme park. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. We don’t have time to chat with tigers or lounge around with alligators or watch revolting rhino dancers or quaff pints of porter with a drunken woodpecker. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. surely. “Am I free to go. the stomping ground of Snap. find ACME ASAP. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone.” Conciliatory though it was. Be veri. . Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. “A word of advice. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. wondering which territory to try first. The threesome looked up expectantly. penguin. reportedly. the Lacoste crocodile. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest.” the Roc said disdainfully. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. we might learn much along the way. In the far distance. Crackle. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog.” Orlov. the local authority. PDQ. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. directly ahead. veri careful.An acknowledged expert in domain names. then took to the air. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. disconcertingly. USA. We’ve two more to play with. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough.” Bella snapped.
the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. birch-fringed. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. Dangerous though it was. larch and juniper. joined the others on their high country hike. She badly needed a breather. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade.” the meerkat said. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. flakiest chocolate”. Louis scampered after her. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. Bella left them to it. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. “Only the crumbliest. making a vast grassy corral. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. steaming waterfalls. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. Bella stumbled on several occasions. Bella recognised some of the tunes. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. Every so often. stream-silvered dell lay below her. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. tussock-strewn. . “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. A blissful. interspersed with red-berried rowans.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. The air was noticeably warmer here. And that’s her smiling flock. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air.” Bella muttered. But when she crested the rise. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. Each accused the other of ignorance.“The nerve of it. though. she was too astounded to rest. “Hands that do dishes”. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers.” A row erupted. cedar. the My Little Pony palominos. a frisky Ferrari broke free. Especially for a penguin. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. That’s what Paris once told me. Orlov. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. “A Mars a day”. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. Perplexed. “I may be mistaken. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. after being frozen in flight. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. like an Alpine Shangri-la. Jingles rather. you twat. plaidshirted.” “Cardboard cut-outs. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. arrogance and absence of brand sense.
” . Bella opted for a formal greeting. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. tilted back his hat and grinned. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. “Village people?” Louis echoed. He had heard of ACME. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. “Mr Marlboro. Generously. “Don’t worry. with only cows and cowpokes for company.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. wide west. ma’am. of course. Even Orlov. sonorous and compelling. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. The advertising icon was bemused. There was no need to explain. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. Apart from an occasional wheeze. Bella was buying. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. Much as the trio loved the mountains. where the village people would point them in the right direction. no siree.She signalled for the others to join her. Big Sky. Duke’s voice was deep. Big Emphysema. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. but paid city slickers no heed. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. they’re not axe-murderers. The good folks around here call me Duke. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. not when there’s a lariat to hand. Big Satisfaction. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. Welcome to God’s own country. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. Whatever he was selling. Big Flavour. I presume. the bracing air. as were her awe-struck associates. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. where men are men. Agog. son. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. The legend introduced his pardner. with an anxious expression. It bespoke Big Country. the wide. Big Brand Equity. was impressed. “At your service. an urban cess pit was their priority. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. let alone love.” “Chance’d be a fine thing.” The older cowboy. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. The bad folks don’t call me at all.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
the Bon Ami chicken. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. plus several infuriating false starts. “Yes. of all things. As the party progressed down dale. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. If they started up “Macho Man”. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. A camp camp containing red Indians. Louis might have agreed with the rodent. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions.” Orlov stage whispered. “Never had.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. of all things. the cowboy archetype was adopted.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. never will. round rivulet and through thicket. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . “Though if anyone asks. on account of the filter tip. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. But the tat was an accident. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. After a fraught brainstorming session. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. Modest to a fault. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. Marlboro Country was invented and.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. traffic cops. As things stood. The rest is history. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. might be more than even he could handle. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. as did the manicured fields. and Viagra began as a remedy for angina – not that Duke needed the little blue suckers more than four times per week – so too the Marlboro brand was a lucky break. It was originally targeted at female smokers. And as for “In the Navy”. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation.” In ordinary circumstances. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. he’d join in the chorus. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards.
However. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. “Hmmph. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. “Wonder what’s eating them. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. abandoning lawnmowers. Coors Country and their high. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. “What a guy. A pretty parish church. where Aflac ducks. though the salty sea dog was so sozzled on his own brand dark rum that they couldn’t get a sensible word out of him. Hamlet half a mile. He glared at his feline acquaintance. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. Ar-har. pruning shears.” Louis observed.the Anchor butter cows. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. arhar. Then. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. saloon bars. Swan matches and . a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. garden path.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. redundantly. Smelt of chewing tobacco. the Bull Durham bull. the everenergetic Red Bull. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way.” Bella sighed. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. wide and handsome cognates. as the company advanced into Hamlet. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. with the Kid by his side. He had a peri-peri in every port. edge trimmers. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. to Louis’s annoyance. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. overhanging eves. wished them well in their quest for ACME. garden hoses. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green.” Bella said wryly. but Orlov wasn’t convinced.. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. watering cans. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. it added.. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. a time-worn market cross. which looked the worse for wear. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. mounting up. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. it said. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. the Bisto gravy family.
A line of local yokels. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. quacked and chirruped incontinently. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. The usual array of barroom grotesques. Clarence. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. granite inglenook. one with a sharp carving knife. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. was unsettlingly absent. “You’re Gordon. “And you. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. Or gassy lager. Archie. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. simple Sydney smiled shyly.” the curmudgeon grunted. “And you must be Maurice. “are Sydney. slippers! – stood between them and the door. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. “What’s tha doin in ’ere?” “Who art tha?” “Did tha say mead? Mead?” Angry mutters at the mention of mead rolled down the line. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. stepped forward. lass. “We prefer to work with Clubs. Still nothing.” Bashful as ever. They waited for a few minutes.” she continued. wearing blue overalls. The leader. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. Undaunted. a peppery little man with a self-important air. Nothing. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. “You must be Gaffer. The place was deserted. that were a long time ago. You look fantastic. brass-banded pumps. lad.” she went on. I’d recognise you anywhere. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. polished horse brasses. as sheepish grins started to appear. Each was armed with a blunt instrument.” “Aye. if there’s naught else on tap. a firkin of gassy French lager. they followed him into the homely hostelry. old chap. however. mine host. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts.” Bella said. Or best bitter.” The tea folk tittered. By the time Bella and Louis caught up.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. a hogshead of mead. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. the consummate cuppa-maker.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. my good fellow. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight.” she concluded triumphantly. Penguins and Tetley go way back. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. or whatever it is they do down there. “We’ve b-b-been…” . All were empty. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern.
Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’.” he growled. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn.But he was cut off by Gaffer. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. “Tbirds were P.” “That’s torn it. ominously. P.” Louis groaned.G. then glared at his gang. Assholes. I suspect. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. “We’ve been on holiday. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals. brand animals like us. “Tetley. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s.” Orlov whispered.G. as did Gordon with his andiron. Psychosis is not uncommon.G. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. Because P. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Tips people.” . Lever lover? Menacingly.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. The tea folk advanced. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. Bushells. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. Tips.” Bella gulped audibly. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag.G. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely.G.” “Tannin poisoning. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. “Assam. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. Tips is a Unilever brand. along with Brooke Bond. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. We liked the T-birds. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. the T-birds. brandishing their blunt instruments.” Gaffer spat. Lipton. But. Lyons. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls. Could put a word in for them. He met the T-birds once. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. lass. A lot. Sydney shuffled his feet. yes. reminding them who’s boss. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right.
Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P.” “Yes. The air was chilly. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. ferret. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region.G. proper trees like hornbeam. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. these were big trees. insidiously. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating.” Louis didn’t mince his words. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone. you two. like most FMCGs. Tea’s time is up. elm. “An old trick. oak. fighting on price. I’m amazed they fell for it. no. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. Tips. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. unobtrusively. unawares. Defeated. Night was falling. Far from the madding firs. “The reason you didn’t know about it.G. and arsehole begins with A.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing. “Now push off the pair of you.” Orlov snarled. lime. “It was nothing. beech. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. It tasted delicious too. you can bicker without me.” Bella said. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. After looking around and sniffing the air. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. a copycat called Tim Tam. They’ve reverted to commodities. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. heavy trees. “It was brilliant. “Look. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. A stroke of genius.” . sycamore. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. Tea brands are identical nowadays. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. walnut.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking. Coffee culture’s king. she decided it would do for the night.” “No. They’d have to stop soon.” Bella had said. The glory days of P.” Bella smiled modestly.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. poplar. deciduous trees.” Louis finally said.” Orlov interrupted. There’s nothing to choose between them.
as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. Louis was in his element. wearing a skintight yellow dress. only to disappear when anyone came too close. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. Watching the frolicking creatures. thanks to a babbling brook nearby.” Orlov added. A figure was flitting through the trees.” “I’m just glad they let us go. the Unibank unicorn. only to find herself drifting off. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. the Glenfiddich stag. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. the Kirin dragon. Scania’s and Saab’s. A singularly sultry rabbit. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. out and around the trees. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. Crackle and Pop. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. On picking herself up for the fifth time. Before long. lay languidly beneath it. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand.” With a sigh of contentment. with an irresistible . The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. Immediately adjacent to the path. “Actually. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. In a most unladylike manner. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. Not this one.Chastened. The next day saw an early start. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. when something caught her eye. Smiling. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. pipits. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. but it was pleasant all the same. she offered a square to Louis. linnets and the like. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. rotten logs. And another. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. Keebler’s elves also showed up. “there’s Snap. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused.” Louis laughed. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. “Look. a fire was crackling in the glade and. most likely. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. before evaporating into the undergrowth. scrutinising the strangers. the Trix rabbit. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. for once. the Schnuffel rabbit. she was struck by the absence of bird song. the Nesquik bunny.” Orlov said with atypical glee. the Hartford elk. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. Swiftly followed by another. flitting in. looked over and waved affably. Vauxhall’s. They made good progress through the forest. she surmised. exhausted. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. her parents.
though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second.” “Yes. no. A big brown bear lumbered past. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. since you ask. then a fourth. sotto voce.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. she’s cursed. And then some.” she smouldered. sensing Bella’s unease. They hunched together biting their tongues. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. “they’re solitary creatures too. “No. mainly nocturnal. I’m doing him a favour. then shuffled on. Bravely. “Let me guess. they roused Louis who woke . Bella. then a steady stream. all hulking. “Aeaea. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. Dark Temptation. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. A second bear followed. Bella bided her time. An unearthly hush descended. the oldest trick in the book. Must hide. “Don’t fall for it.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. However. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. which was still rustling. I can see that.” In normal circumstances. they don’t actually hibernate. A for Argonauts. tongue hanging out. It’s a trick. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. sniffed the air. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Orlov hissed. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. “Arctophily. Get out of my way. Rrrrrrrr. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. clicked his foreclaws. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. Together. all growling. as if to reset her audio receptors.” she said.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. all ponderous. and not a little need for nourishment. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. Well. Louis. “Quick. Bella followed suit. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. “Something smells good around here. famously omnivorous creatures. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. Quick. then a third. She’s Circe. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. peered around myopically. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. It paused for a second. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. However. Fancy a bite. trying not to breathe. “My. my. actually. polecat. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. Daddy’s coming baby. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. This doesn’t look good. Quick.” Bella butted in.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing.” The lynx laughed in his face.
Gulliver. In fact.” Orlov murmured. Larynges lubricated. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. wasn’t spared by the assassins. she knew the reason for the rendezvous.with a blissful smile on his face. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. brown bears. Labatt’s blue bear. before a head shot finished him off. BearPG rifles. peeping out a knothole. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. Cresta lemonade bear.” hers replied. inevitably. small bears. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. “Let’s get out of here. friendly bears. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. Appallingly. “Told you so. It was worse than bear baiting. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. meanwhile. the easyJet bear. Boo Boo bear. the easyJet bear. SuperTed. Only Gulliver. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. Biffo the bear. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. fierce bears. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols.” Hiding in the wounded tree. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. Even Pudsey. They didn’t get very far. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. the biggest jambearee. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. He died with his Wellington boots on. Yogi bear. a snivelling wimp at heart. Pipes were smoked. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars.” his said. Paddington was a sitting duck. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. the iconic US Forest Service bear. “has left the building. the bears burst into song. the Hofmeister bear. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. Charmin paper towels bear. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. Bundaberg rum bear. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy.” Pooh simpered. begged on his knees for mercy. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. firing indiscriminately. “They’ll be asleep before long. black bears. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. At least they seemed civilised about it. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. Bearzookas. cans included. Hamm’s beer bear. George. “The bear. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. SuperTed was also in attendance. . Big bears. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Carried back to the ice floe. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. The dell. as were Pudsey bear. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. The massacre was relentless. “We should be able to get away then. Smokey. was filling up with bears. The fat bastard. whose charitable work is second to none. Paddington bear.
he sealed the fate of his comrades. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees. They raised their weapons as one.showed any sense of self-preservation. A second troop of baby-faced. Supported by Charmin and Cresta. In so doing. There was no sign of Winnie. . The dirty deed was done. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell.
stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. jolted out of his rambling account.” They knew she was right.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. Me-to-You they’re called. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. frozen in its death throes. most with decades of distinguished service. you see. Heavy shadows fell across the path. “I know who did this. Great mark-ups. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. They kept going. On returning to the path several hours later. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. “Greeting cards.” Orlov said calmly. paw-prints. Bloodstains. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse.” Louis answered dully. if only to work out what they were up against. A Lynx card range made sense. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. steadily.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. tears streaming down his ashen face. Let’s bury the bodies and move on.” Orlov ordered. Led by Tatty Teddy. Very profitable business. That’s the frightening thing. man” before breathing his last. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. listening intently for any indication of military activity.” Louis wept. the baby-faced ones. Hallmark’s main rival. They pushed on slowly. Cautiously. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front.” Louis groaned. Night was falling. the trio forged ahead. such was the bloodletting. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances.” “Okay. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac.” Bella said. But drew a blank. failing to focus on the salient facts. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. A chill was in the air. sensible as ever. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. Suddenly. It doesn’t bear thinking about. . the better. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons.” “Explain. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. Frantically. stealthily. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. Working together. “There’s nothing we can do here. We talked joint ventures with them all. “Greeting cards. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. you say?” “Yes.
They’re avatars. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. Surely some of them are still with us. “Think about it. “I think I know what this place is. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. with witching hour approaching. Orlov laughed. Invizimals. Forced to choose between a wet night in the woods – where they’d be assailed by werebrands and blood-sucking Bacardi bats – and a crenellated fortress that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton movie. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends.” . Thousands of critters have been created since. They’re called Furries. Until the rain arrived. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. “Potentially big market for personal care products. High on a crag.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. It’s simples. I don’t like the look of them.” Louis said. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. which stopped them in their tracks.” Bella was incredulous. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. teeth chattering. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. Most have been axed ruthlessly. they made reasonable progress. “That’s no phantasm. We have nothing to worry about. At night. never mind feline chat-up lines. full and ominous. They’re breakfast cereal characters. they opted for the latter. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. Pet Society. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life.” he said. according to recent news reports.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. The path soon turned into a slough. since her body wasn’t built for trekking.” Louis said. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. “I know what they are. Never the best of hikers. The first brand character dates from 1877.” Orlov answered with equanimity. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. cold and cutting. They’re nothing to be afraid of. often in the prime of life.” Louis said. Second Life players. above the sodden forest floor. if anything – just that fetches. They searched for shelter. sat a glowering gothic castle. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. bath salts and what have you. Eyepet. They struggled along. no. slipping and sliding and slithering. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. But shelter found them. Country Story.” “Looks pretty scary to me. familiars. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. Bella was exhausted before long. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. deodorant.
soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier.Orlov was not convinced. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. spread out on a table before him. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. Bagheera. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. Bizarrely. much less amused. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. though. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. Mummy”. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. nor were Piglet. “Mummy. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. Mr Lynx. always on the creepy side of welcoming. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition.” it shrieked. wondering what he was waiting for. But not the once and future Honey Monster. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. swords and stuffed animal heads. “Tell them about the honey bunny. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. head tilted back. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. Are you thinking of using her as bait for the undead cocoasucker? Or have you got a garlic-flavoured body spray that’ll give her some protection from the beast?” Drained. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. By then it was too late to retreat. After licking his lips with relish.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. however. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. The latter included Dumbo. “I’m waiting. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement.” the creature rasped. the portcullis rose.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. “Mummy. It’s Mummy. We didn’t see anything.” Louis ventured. Bella was too tired to care. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. Be careful what you say. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. He looked enormously pleased with himself. mead and beeswax markets. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. His cavernous smile. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. as the drawbridge fell. . shields. The travellers looked at each other. lined with oil paintings. was positively cadaverous. She had second thoughts. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. lances. Tigger. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats.
” Orlov said. Lucky for you ACME’s within it.” “We’re doomed. As every brand manager knows. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. it was the least he could do. mummy!” they shouted in unison. so too slogans calm the savage brand. Doom was unaccountably delayed. As if by magic. “Tell them about the honey. “All together now. Just as music calms the savage breast. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. like himself. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. as the reality of their situation hit home. after breakfast.” “Lucky for us. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. Apparently. he showed the threesome around his stately home. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. So it proved on this occasion. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. Let’s keep it that way. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination.” she murmured. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders.” She looked at Orlov coldly. hence the bee laboratories.” Louis chipped in. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. Walls have ears. psychological or otherwise. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. we’ll never get to ACME. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. pausing to point out the bee laboratory.” “Keep your voices down.Shaken to the core. “There’s no honey in Penguins. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. He doesn’t know what we know. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. Otherwise. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide.” Bella gloomed. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that.” Orlov hissed. we’re history. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. “Or he’ll overhear us. “It’s simples. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry.” Bella was not amused. The next morning. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest.
” Orlov observed.Character Mediation Enterprise.” the Honey Monster said. “I thought honey was a natural laxative. without smiling. . he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting. innocently. “Not that kind of pooh.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
Increasingly alarmed. offering little by way of illumination. strapped them in securely and. saplings. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. There was no sign of Cerberus. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. The growling stopped. where it charged between the trees. tree stumps. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. Bella. bounding over fallen logs. dodging. gratifying. raising its paws and barking excitedly. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. fences. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear.” Legend the unicorn announced. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. rivulets. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. sleek and in perfect physical condition. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads.” Orlov reassured his companions. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. while straining on its leash. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. “Don’t be afraid. circling steeply upwards. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. though. A perfect day was in prospect. long. railings. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. stood before them wagging its tail. leaping. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. Peanuts. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. the brand band exchanged wary glances. air-conditioned cabin. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. Luckily. What there was. golden. They should buy us some time. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. It was replaced by frantic barking. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. giving way to the rich arable farmland . glorious. was pretty impressive. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. All of a sudden. A gigantic silver Greyhound. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog.
rubbing salt into the wound.” Bella noted. if not quite the bees’ knees. Market leader in Britain he may have been. “ACME is top of our agenda. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. Before long. Wild Beasts. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. bunny hop. the Natural History Museum. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. Mastodon. “I thought they’d broken up. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view.” Orlov added. “Must be a homing greyhound. pleasure later. . Eventually. FAO Schwarz. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Grizzly Bear. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. Seal. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. amongst many others. their mode of conveyance was.” Louis said casually. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. Followed by Flat Eric. infuriated by his insensitivity. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. Seven minutes later.” Bella gasped. Noah and the Whale. “Business first. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. Fleet Foxes. Doves. Orlov snorted. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. Literally. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. the new Eagles. Glinting on the horizon. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. Wolfmother. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Then we can foxtrot. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse.” Squelched. Louis sulked. pointing at the billboard. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. before dashing off again in the direction it came. Whitesnake. Sheryl Crow. Snoop Dogg. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. Pet Shop Boys. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. Central Park Zoo. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. Scorpions. Danger Mouse. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. better yet. An open air charity concert. Bat for Lashes. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. As ever. He was the Robbie Williams of male grooming requisites – when he so wanted to be SuBo – but being cruelly reminded of his nonentity was uncalled for. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. The line up included Gorillaz. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts.” “Maybe we should check it out. but solid ground threw the adélie completely.
The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. Just as the atomic bomb was developed in and around Manhattan during the Second World War – hence the codename – so too its advertising community had long been seeking a silver bullet. A chill wind whistled in from the east. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly.” he said. panhandlers. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. dirty. though. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. “I think I know what’s happening here. many of which strobed intermittently. perhaps. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed.” “Why are there no humans. devoid of hope and authenticity. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. was nowhere to be seen. as they advanced towards Timex Square. Forty-second Street was equally empty. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. animal brands especially.” Bella said. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. caught in the inter-building eddies.” . That’s what I think. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. If we go. indicated that the place was operational. But survivors all the same. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. Aleksandr. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. Oh. Squeeze This. as if a performance was about to begin. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. Horribly disfigured. while stuffing their faces with fast food. hookers. “The real world is breaking through. in as cutting a way as he could manage. Marketing gives it meaning. yelling at one another. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. security guards. Mutant maybe. yakking. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. The human world is a horrible place. druggies. “But surely. buskers. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. Surely everyone knows that. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. you never got as far as B. they go. just like you said. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. squalid. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. I’m sorry. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. shoving.
Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. an irresistible urge to spend.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques.” Orlov exclaimed. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. “Bloody Hellman’s. spend. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. “Well. “Holy Doughboy. “Well. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. it stated.” Louis said.” “Gotcha. the Dulux sheepdog. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated. Led by Cheeka.” Orlov took off. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. then get the Dell out of here. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail.” Bella groaned. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. Then another. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. off. Luckily. stunned by the update. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. lynx and meerkat in their midst. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. And we also know that infecting consumers though “viral” means is the cutting edge of contemporary marketing practice and has been since the publication of The Tipping Point. spend. unwelcoming place. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. Skittles’ shuffling tube sock and something that looked suspiciously like Flat Eric – which squeaked in panic and ran hither and yon like Foster Imposter chickens of the headless variety. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. it went on. . Monkey from Sky TV. it added. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound.” Louis gasped.com critter. horse-mounted traffic cops. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. Timex Square was an empty. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. off. Another followed. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey.
flapping idly in the breeze. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. “What’s the address? Quick. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. We don’t have much time. ferret. breathing heavily. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. look round again manner. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up.” . getting more infuriated by the second. no doubt. drop down. The meerkat glared at them both. It was a brand free zone. “No signal. They stood snout to snout. Louis turned to Bella. Even in Madhattan. Bella looked at Louis. Smirking. followed by “Louis. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. look left. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. Growling.” Orlov was fit to be tied. “Let me handle this. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. while they were in mortal danger. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. Having stared the meerkat out. Louis looked down at him.” Infuriated. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. Patrolling down 42nd Street. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. Scampering ahead in his stop. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle.” he said curtly.Chapter Eleven Old McDonald had a Brand They say you can take a meerkat out of the Kalahari but not the Kalahari out of a meerkat. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. But Louis cut him off. ready for fisticuffs. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. “For your information. Why didn’t he call for help when the Tetley Tea Folk turned nasty or consult Google Earth when they were lost in the Forest District? Too busy watching Lynx ads on YouTube. I thought you’d been here before” strop. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. eyes locked. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. Quick.” Louis snapped.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead.” Impatient as always. “Wait for us. start. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. stand up. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. Orlov backed down. look right. “Calm down. The fashion week tents were still standing. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella.
” Bella moaned. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger.” Bella had no time for legends. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. “It doesn’t say. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. originality disappears.” He switched off his iPaw. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. He’s barking up the wrong office block. The stress of the quest. The Young and Rubicund building. Nothing.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. It was her imagination. Bella made to follow.” “Read that in Wikipedia. Panther. Monkey. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. She wasn’t helped by Louis waving his iPaw in front of her face and talking nineteen to the dozen as the fight-or-flight adrenaline dissipated. “It’s number 285. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. “designed to justify cost cutting. Louis held her back. will you.” Louis sighed. “Just get Google. Camel. design. Rrrrrrrrr. Something or someone was watching them. “World Wide Webster. creativity evaporates. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. He’d clicked through from Google Street View. publicity. “Look. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. officiating bodies like ACME. “I don’t believe it. “Let him go. believe me. Racoon. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. in a downtown direction. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. research. He was a Panther man himself. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. Adidas.” The connection took forever. did you?” Bella shouted. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. She was sure of it.” The meerkat was off like a shot. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. Once production goes.” “What?” Bella retorted. innovation follows. The building was just a couple of blocks away. the brains behind the Smash Martians. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. down-sizing. Critters he called them. not to say incredulity. As included. feeling edgier by the second.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone.
penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. “Corleone the copywriter. stiff and straining in the breeze. Orlov missed the sarcasm. the Russian emerged from the elevator. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. brand mascots. Startled. as did his equally dumbfounded . National Lottery’s disembodied hand. They especially hate cute critters. The locked ACME offices. isabellines especially. The wreckage all around.us the journey. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. Fearing another tantrum.” “Oh. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. Bella refused to take the bet. With a heave. “Yes. Aleksandr. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. bothered. advertising characters. extremely agitated. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. He had a theory. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and.” Louis let her vent. arm in arm. jingles. Hard sellers hate whimsy. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. A couple of minutes later. a strop and sulk situation. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. The whole place was completely empty. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. Chuckling. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. he looked around. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. The big city was distorting his thinking. They passed a Starbucks. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. The curt note on the door. subtlety. Nodding enthusiastically. The vacated Y&R floors. Although they look laid back. only with account managers and art directors. though that may have been the art directors’ department. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. reason-why. There was no brand war. all disconcertingly empty. a bit like The Sopranos.” Louis said laconically. hot. their Old Glories unfurled. they strolled down to 285. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. Exactly.” Louis yawned. A conspiracy theory. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. “We know. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. It too was devoid of life. Yes. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. let alone embarrassed. mouth agape. no winners or losers.” Far from being crestfallen. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive.
“Lucky I checked out the building. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. thump. thump. round. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. Nothing. then another. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry.” Bella urged. Caught betwixt and between. Glancing round as he ran. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. Then a fourth. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. thump. They spilled into the street. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. Almost. Then a third. the three of them backed up several paces.” Louis yelled. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds.companions. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. Thump. slid at high speed across the polished lobby – flippers outstretched to maintain her balance – and secured the snib just as one of the slackjawed creatures was pushing through. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. Nada. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. jumping to his feet. thump. out. It suddenly shattered. He pushed again. A crack appeared in the pane. Without pausing to dust themselves down. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. thump.” he added. the former sliding on the marble. Louis lost the head. Eyes glassy and unseeing. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. Frantic. It was locked. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. “Quick. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. and pushed on the side door. The door burst open. then charged at the barrier together.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. They picked themselves up. Bella and Louis did likewise. thump.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. “lock the revolving door. the latter sprinting on all fours. then another. Arms outstretched. Its catatonic associates followed suit. There was no time to lose. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. The alarm alerted the undead. like a fire tender on emergency call. the zombie was momentarily confused.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. Thump. An earsplitting alarm went off. . but alive he most certainly wasn’t. however. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald.
with an unrepeatable oath. No surrender. no. This way. “We’re trapped. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue.” Bella said. “I think there’s a food court in that place. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries.But the quarry was too quick for them. 40th . Bella.” He galloped up Park Avenue. “Let’s stand and fight. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. They’re milkshakes. With no realistic alternative. This way. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. “No. They’re softies. They’re wusses. in the direction of Brand Central Station.” Orlov said to himself. where they paused to catch their collective breath.
they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. “Okay guys.” Louis continued. Rrrrrrrr. winking at the other half of his double act.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes.” Wiping her eyes. “How can you be so sure?” . As Bella. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo.” he conceded.” Unabashed.” Louis laughed. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. “Stitch. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. “I can swim for hours. Sniggering to start. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls.” Bella panted. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. right Louis?” “Right. albeit with difficulty. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza. holding her side. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. those McTofus are really something. But my sprinting’s not so good. face contorted in agony. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. “Yes.000 passengers per day. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. gasping for breath.” Orlov empathised. But none of them are McDonald’s.” Suppressing a smile. “Different muscle groups. He won’t be there anyway. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line.” she added. you know. No bother. “Lynxes excepted. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. “I think we’ve lost them. “But downtown’s not a good move. “A good brand is hard to find.” he commiserated. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. the lynx tried to sympathise. which ordinarily copes with 150. “Never meet your heroes. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days. “I’m starving after all that exercise. “That’s where Flat Eric lives.” Orlov said.” Bella deadpanned. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. grinning. looking anxiously behind them.” The meerkat cracked up. “Don’t bet on it. Giggling. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. Too worked up to worry.” Orlov said.” “Yes. by way of explanation. As it was motivated more by relief than anything else – it’s not every day Ronald goes postal – Bella couldn’t help but join in.
” “Decisions.” The meerkat hesitated.” Louis croaked. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. she shook her still-slumbering companions. trying to make the peace. “All of which are moot.” he said. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu.” Louis sighed. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. Settled in their seats. as he pressed his face against the window. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. If not quite melting. ACME. It’s well uptown. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. because there’s no public transportation. Bella’s obsession with ACME. the one that does international flights. was made for them. Things’ll be clearer then. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. Inside a greenhouse. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. the moment of light relief forgotten. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. And tasted like it too. Then Orlov followed suit. Inside a smelting plant. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. We should be safe there. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. as it happened. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. Louis?” “It’s getting late. just as the doors were closing.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. as they tried to get their bearings. swivelling his head this way and that. He looked around in that ever-wary way. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction.” the lynx said. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. “Looks like Coney Island. though. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. “If that’s where we decide to go. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. On Mercury. We need to make our way to JWT Airport. Thanks largely to the meerkat’s incredible homing instinct – and not a little huffing and puffing – they tracked down the out-of-town bound train and jumped on board. “We’ve had a very trying day.” She looked from one drained friend to the other. Bella awoke with a start. It’s relocated to India. Have you?” The decision. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. decisions. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. “I’m heading for SoHo. ACME. “Coming with me. decisions. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. “ACME’s our priority. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. peeping outside. exhaustion soon caught up with them. Boiling sun. “We must have missed our stop. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. The place felt like an oven. Aleksandr.” .” Bella said.” Understandably perhaps. Hot sun. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. until he too failed the sleepy-time test.
The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. The heat was fearsome. beckoned from the other. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. and how Mr Peanut. Except that they weren’t flies.” Too parched to say anything. far away. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. Bertie Bassett.” Orlov rasped. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. Self-respect be damned. Gathering their wits. twisting and turning. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. dune piled upon dune. Far Away. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. It was hotter outside than in. a fraud. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. not only looked inviting. top-hatted. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. as best they could. was a poseur.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. Whatever their phylum. Bella wished she was far. Gasping for a drink. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. when brand icons were dapper men about town. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. Bella stood in the doorway.” Bella struggled to speak. Much as he loved dry heat. Grill and Waterhole.” Orlov remarked. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. an imposter. Mercifully. Mine host. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. The door hissed open. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. Onlookers. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. The barflies hung on his every word. like eco- . Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. The Birds Custard bluebird. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. piled upon dune. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. it said. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park.“Not a problem. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. We’ll be safe among the carousels. most of which were counterfeit. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. Botanic Gardens too. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. the monocled. in short. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. held court behind the bar. flat-roofed and ogee arched. Unselfconsciously. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. be gone. ghost trains and roller coasters. Welcome to Mirage. boys. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them.
Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. A poultry matter. We’ve got to get out of here.” “Right. Meerkat mambo. Brusquely. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. No sign of Owl City. “Chicken feed. Howlin Wolf. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. Panicking. The Beatles. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. let alone an LAX. much to his annoyance. the proper name for the peanut family. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band.” “It’s mambo. Louis. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. “This is the last brand saloon. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. All axed by their advertising agencies. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. he didn’t give a 4X. The lynx hadn’t.” Undeterred. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. never mind “Fireflies”. Louis didn’t . the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. History. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. a sure-fire floor filler. spokespenguins held to ransom. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Monkey Business and more. The Monkees. Orlov didn’t join in. “Hound Dog”. A hen party. Smirking. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. Horse Feathers. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. followed by “Wild Thing”. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. Unconcerned. The Animals. nor did he want to know right now. spokescreatures sold into bondage. Orlov persisted. Famous Grouse. Louis was collared by the meerkat. just as the stork’s set was finishing. Lapsed. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. was in seventh heaven. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. Dropped. Grey Goose. We’re in Brandablanca. for eucalyptus. Meanwhile. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. No matter. consisting of Wild Turkey. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. the lusty lummox. Bella and Louis supped up. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. the audience roared. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. Adam and the Ants.
He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books. He’s on his death bed. “I didn’t know you smoked. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries.” “I’m afraid it is our problem.” “Let’s get going. There was no sign of Bella. doc?” Bella forced a smile. Releasing his grip.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. trying to get to Hamlet. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily. No sign of her there.” . Orlov gave up on the lynx. apparently. the CEO is. then. either. standing in the shade. He made his way to the restrooms. They’re in transit. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. “Okay.” she said. I need something to calm me down. “What’s up. then. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. having a cigarette.” “Excellent. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there.” “Exactly. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. He slipped into the backstage area. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs.” “Don’t tell me.want to know. However.” “I don’t. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. deep in thought. a Happy Meal.” the abstemious meerkat said.” Bella nodded. Bella was outside.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. though never rising above ill-at-ease. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away. It wasn’t so funny the second time.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. trying to hide his relief.
Part V Just Deserts .
Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. Mustapha immediately cut his prices.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. they returned to the bar. He introduced himself as Mustapha. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine.” Bella promised. Ali Burberry. So they left him to it. The meerkat was much less impressed. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. He Dead Decision made. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. Ali Boden. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. Talking all the while. Ali Bottega Veneta. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. Bella was impressed. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. He didn’t want to know. carvings. laying out his wares as he talked. was also quite striking. more emphatically than before. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. Mustapha cut his prices even more. As a feline of sorts. Orlov made for the door. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. Pelican and Penguin. sweetmeats. He paused to get his bearings. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. Unconcerned. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. shouting over the music. Reluctantly. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process.” Bella wasn’t reassured. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. spices. despite her desire to depart. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. Louis wasn’t in the same league. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. a stylised scarab in a circle. Ali Brioni. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. They explained the situation to him again. he refused to let go. carpets. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . Louis was on the dancefloor. Awimoway. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris.” Bella asked anxiously.” Orlov answered. “He’ll be there when we get back. awimoway. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. A mere man. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. They explained the situation to him. Ali Balenciaga. The lynx didn’t care. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. “I’ll be back. His logo. He still didn’t want to know. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. awimoway. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. Ali Bally. Irate. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. They shoved him aside. fashion designer to the stars. “Do you think he’ll be all right.
Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. dragging deeply. Breath like a brazier. up dune. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. But business was business. Mr Midden said that was a very. as a peacemaker. Bella waved back. Still no sign of a subway. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. through tamarisk thickets. they’re a delight. a disgrace. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. populated by belching braying camels. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks.” he decided. “This way. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. Orlov didn’t. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. nostrils flared. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. grumbling and griping all the while. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. good-for-nothing. Only a palm-fringed oasis. “Whoops. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. . The old lungs weren’t what they were. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. after much pushing and shoving. Harrier jets.” He plunged back into the casbah and. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size.” Bella said beneath her breath. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. Instead. he explained with a bronchial cough. It was Joe Camel himself. Unwisely. indifferent to everyone around him. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. Orlov offered him a Lark. plus provisions for their journey. They were worrying animal omens. looking down on all he surveyed. This way was the wrong way. “sorry about that. Joe called a halt. Orlov accepted. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. A dung beetle barred their way. The shit of the desert set off. head aloft. “So much for kat-nav. Careless squawk costs lives. eyelids narrowed. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. Must be the other way. very bad idea. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. down dune. His ordinarily impassive demeanour was an aghast combination of we’re-being-followed and how-come-he-knows-your-name? Any port in a storm. Joe was undeniably cool. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. they’re hot. blowing smoke rings. Way too hot to argue. brands go. He looked supercool too – haughty. hoping to bond with the brute. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. Puma helicopters. detached. very.” Orlov apologised.merchants. they’re not. She told the beetle of their intentions. Brands come. emerged on the other side. good fun. Scorpion armoured vehicles. Bella decided. He offered one to Orlov. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. Eventually. There was no sign of the subway station. past thorn-bush. stood between them and the same sand sea. Even in the searing heat of the desert. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary.
Aleksandr. I’m an icon. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all.” she shouted over her shoulder. smiling. causing a mini landslide. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. She waddled up the wadi. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. Fashion changes. Customers are fickle. they clambered up the dusty gulch. undecided. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. “Your funeral. a tropical island in a sea of sand. She could taste him. bad as in good. Bella hobbled on. You can go back if you want to. dead best friend. a benison. she wept for her dead mummy. who once bestrode BrandLand.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. Whatever. I’m going to see it through. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. Aleksandr. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. or something similar. Anticipating uninviting salt flats.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. style’s forever.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. It was all too much. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. Mr Kipling was near now. “I can carry you the rest of the way. earnestly. Momentarily inattentive. Joe shrugged. if you want. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. This is as far as I go. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. “Looks innocent enough. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. Bella nodded appreciatively. “…brand characters talk.” Bella replied brusquely. . to put it mildly. speaking slowly. You know how it is. “I’ve come this far. The Maytag repair man. Supporting each other. Rumours. Bella. I’ve heard things. Amazed. “What rumours?” The camel explained. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. Sorry. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. dead daddy.” “That’s true. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. Don’t pander.bad influence. “Take care of Louis for me. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. which rolled back down the ravine. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. Sobbing uncontrollably. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. his sang-froid abandoned. having decided what to do. It was a refuge.” Orlov murmured.” He indicated with his hoof. “It’s just over that rise. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. tennis courts. after all. Don’t lose hope.” “Ciao. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. Stay true to yourself. Five minutes later. having finally found gainful employment.
their raping. taking in the gymnasium. But she was friendly enough. Clippit. increasing market share. Yap. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair.” Betty said. the convenience stores and the community centre. rising from her sofa. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. thick carpets. Bow-wow. smiling benignly. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life.” Orlov replied. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. “Look. the Tango man.R. woof. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. Beattie and Buzby. “Woof.” . Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. “I think you’ll be impressed. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. It was filled with immortal brand icons. Nicole and Papa. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. look. woof.” Orlov cried. However. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. Nipper responded eagerly. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. the Coppertone girl. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. On a whim. Joe Isuzu. Ruff. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. as they were ushered into her office. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. as orange as ever. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. explaining the rationale for their operation. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. the arts and crafts studios. Aunt Jemima. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. “Would you like to look around?” she said. Frito Bandito. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. Howard Brown.” Without further ado. woof. the forgotten British Telecom titans.“Welcome to paradise. regretfully. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. Hartley. Betty herself had seen better days. sitting in a circle of silence. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. assorted Scottish Widows. the golf course. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. Crazy Eddie. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. Woof. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. Grrrr. Orlov tried to get through to it. The mute mutt kept mum. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. plump cushions. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. the coffee shops. who’d seen better days. They peeked into the communal sitting room. Bow-wow. Frankie and Louie.
Kipling’s a come-on. They were there for the duration. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. Their accommodation was waiting for them. Get out.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger.. Crocker’s a…c. Never was. Smiling benevolently. He’s not here. They’d walked into a trap.cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Thinking quickly. . Right now.
He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. He was lying on a small camp bed. followed by “Chirpy. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. well. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. He was in a storeroom of some kind. followed by “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” followed by…Louis felt a wave of shame wash over his shattered body…”Three Little Fishies”. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. mercilessly. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. feeling queasy. though he wasn’t as young as he was. With a sudden shudder of horror.” The agony was unrelenting. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. Then things got a bit hazy.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. given the free floorshow Louis provided. . though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. “Oooooohhhhh.” The torture wouldn’t stop. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. the mortification or the migraine. He flopped back down again. Cheep”. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. youza. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. Louis sat up with a start. frankly. Groaning. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. Chirpy. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. “don’t move”. Cheep. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. he remembered several more moments of madness. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. Head splitting. but there was a limit. the lynx tried to get his bearings. It was the least the bar owner could do. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. He looked around. Louis had never had a hangover like it. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. Lynxes were lithe. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. Better not. “lie still”. though they only had to ask. Red Robin”. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. youza. Can’t be too careful. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. as are bladders full to bursting. which tightened inexorably. Dawn would be up and about before long. “Noooooooooo. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall.” The pain was excruciating. However.
peered through the iron bars. There was no sign of a cell phone.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. dying for a drink. He shouted for assistance. His iPaw was missing. holding it in. with a view to ringing the bar. Only the minarets showed signs of life. kicking the door and shaking the bars. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. Apart from the sacks of snacks. which flapped to and fro in his wake. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. Louis looked up. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. grabbing hold with both hands. you son of a bitch. He paused. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. His red-suited. albeit not on account of the nausea. He squeezed his face against the bars and. He banged on the door. A call to prayer was imminent. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks.” he called out. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. Louis needed all the help he could get. Anxiety mounting. “I’ve been expecting you. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. Louis’s iPaw. head thumping. He sniffed. He clambered onto it awkwardly and.” he shouted. He unlocked the door. before disappearing through a swinging access door. He reached for his iPaw. Presumably. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. trying to place the aroma. Louis played it cool. hoping to attract someone’s attention. fiddling with an iPaw. Livid. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. Ooohhh yeaaah. “Christ. sugary. waited for the palpitations to pass. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. rabbiteared guard remained silent. “Avoid the Noid. “I’m talking to you. liquorice-like. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . yanking or pulling would shift the thing. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. then tried again. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. And a figure sitting silently at the end.” There was movement. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. the shakes. “I’m talking to you. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. shoved it open with difficulty. Louis angled his face on the bars. eyes fixed on the smart phone. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. Sobriety took hold. Suddenly. briskly. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. It was sweet. If not Bertie himself. Mr Bassett.
He kept his cool instead. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap. And today’s the day when your number’s up. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. “are you telling me all this? What’s in it for you? What are you after? What do you expect from me in return?” “I expect you to die. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. Here’s lookin’ at you. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. Unilever boy?” He stood up. in response to the ridiculous death threat.” . continuing to play it cool. an escape route for persecuted brands. Mr Lynx. nodding toward the barrels once more.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. They never come back.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. Mr Lynx. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders. some parts of them come back.” “I’m not with you. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. not even “My name is Bassett.” he said. He had to get moving right away. “That’s a bit melodramatic. hangover overcome by willpower alone. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. he realised that something wasn’t right. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. “But why. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. Louis refused to be drawn. “Your days are numbered. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. some of them come back or. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. “Maybe. Have you forgotten your training.” he said. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. It might already be too late.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. Bertie Bassett”. round up the usual suspects. Well. Bertie.” he said. Bassett or no Bassett. and suchlike.” Bassett smiled. buy-or-die issues. the liquorice magnate said nothing.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. Instead.” Louis countered. should I say. kid.” There was no time to lose. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. “They come from that. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. We make dramas out of crises. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely.” “That’s what we want them to believe. rising energetically from his camp bed. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. Nonchalant yet nasty.” “I see. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic.
he sensed that Bassett was serious. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. He soon would. He should have known better than to tempt fate. Although he was still alive. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather. Anything to make the memory go away.Ordinarily. However. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. . Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint.
But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. Crocker’s camp. as Nipper made clear. were a bit like piggy banks. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. Bella could see the attraction of the place. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. Bella was kicking herself. Tom Tomato. Brands. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. The forbidden fruit trick. She was very tempted. much less the physiology. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. no matter how venerable. no matter how outmoded. like Mr Kipling. Every brand icon. But. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. something strange was going on. Bella could understand why any brand icon. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. The accommodation was superb. The recreational facilities were wonderful. with watchtowers and guards. neither electrified nor chain link. clearly. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. There was no unscalable wall. There was no perimeter fence. No hassle. the fearsome Fruit of the Loom bunch – who sprouted up with a snarl and a submachine gun when anyone made a bid for freedom or approached the outer edge of the greensward. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. As a consequence. No hard sell. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. The food. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. its equity was still there. was a crock of marketplace gold. Bella well knew. Mr Soybean. No soft soap. part of the brand trafficking operation. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. That investment kept on growing and growing and.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. as per ACME’s edict. No hustle. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. never mind a sickening stench. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun.
Even Bella could smell it. “Acrylic. “Maybe it was something you ate. Orlov thought for a second. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. Orlov looked up.” he said. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. only with incense that’s gone off. The stench was stronger now. Doubtless Tiger. Not wanting to attract undue attention. there’s a plume of smoke over there. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. no less.” She let him splutter. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. She declined. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. The aroma. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. their . they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside. only smarter. “It’s a bit like a civet. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. Orlov was doubled over. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow.the perimeter. retching in a revolting manner. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. footloose and fancy free. He didn’t look up to the challenge. patting him on the back. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. a penguinoramus. Still. He coughed. Bella told him so. Bella was beyond belief. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. Undeterred. That’s where it’s coming from. low-rise glass building.” she said. minging and malodorous. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. It worked. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. There was no escape. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. “Burning acrylic. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. She was a penguin ignoramus. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. then took in the nine-hole golf course. struggling to his feet. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. just to see the look on his face. He offered her one. He spluttered. for one – but this was ridiculous. “I still can’t smell anything.” he added. was somewhere between niffy and noisome. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. It was worse than she thought.” Orlov gasped. Hundreds of sports team mascots. behind a dense stand of leylandii.” Bella said. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. Some chance. “Orlov insisted. “Look. “Definitely acrylic. Tears were streaming down his peaky face.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney.
Bella held a candle for H’Angus. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. Norwich’s Captain Canary. a brand abattoir. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. Stamford the Lion. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. Portsmouth’s Frogmore.” Bella whispered. There was only one problem. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. It was about to launch into . Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. Bella. the purple dinosaur. which fell away when full. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. Peppa the Pig was no more. pampered. As a democrat. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. “They certainly kept that quiet. Aberdeen’s Angus. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. In the annals of advertising slogans. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. they’re cuddly toys. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for.” “Yes. nothing less than the furry solution.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. As a Russian. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. let alone A Bug’s Life. The guard was no ordinary guard. It was Pegasus. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. The guard. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. Appalled. He Gives a Monkey’s. But Olov’s hope that the extermination process was limited to the football league was dashed when Bella drew his attention to an electronic scoreboard. quotas. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. the questers considered their options. Barney.” Raging. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide.” At a loss. targets similar work schedule metrics. Gruesome as the big screen was. Beanie Babies had been and gone. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. was extinct. as had Go-Go Hamsters. From its perch above the production line. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. Samson and Delilah. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. sadly. Desperate times require desperate measures. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. It was apocaplush. And won the election by a landslide.” Orlov said. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator.
an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. Bella. there’s only two of us. Orlov. She says you’re dead horsemeat.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard.an “how dare you”. I dropped Bellerophon in it. However. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. that its father. in case you’d forgotten. Orlov. She’s full of it you know.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. We’ve still got a wish in hand. “The Roc sends her regards. “However. Whatever. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time.” “Yes. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry. Just ask Tiger. She says you’re a sell out. Pegasus looked unimpressed. I’m not proud. Poseidon. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut.” Bella acknowledged. I’m not choosy. remember. the rest soon follow. Orlov cut the creature off.” Pegasus whinnied. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. Oh. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. Bella seized her chance.” “Your wish is my command. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. It’s the way of the world. she does. and don’t look so surprised. Once one sponsor departs. as you can see. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. I’m the offspring of Medusa. “I’m calling security” spiel. Call her. If so. “you shouldn’t be here”. A god’s gotta graft. “Is that so?” “Yes. BTW. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here.” . that companies as diverse as Asus Computers and TriStar Pictures would sever their connections with the creature if they knew what it was getting up to.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. Bleary-eyed. Bella sent them. He could hear the door opening. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. A camel was outside. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. And squeezed. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. he picked himself up. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. The cry caught in his throat. by fair means or foul. They were going to pull the bars out. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. “This is my esteemed colleague. no one could hear brands scream. In Cin City. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. Mr Clean. mean and muscular. “I’m Julius Pringles. At one stage. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. Get ready to run for it.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. a celebrity camel. Intrigued. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. Shaven-headed. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. They had a rope. You may also have heard that we get what we want. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). the chatterbox beetle explained. You may have heard of us. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards.” Louis snarled. P&G shakedown. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. “Let me guess. I’m hoping it will .” he said. turning defence into attack. preparing to call for assistance. The other was lean. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. allegedly. he glanced up at the Proctoids. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. he was distracted by a cough. Naturally.
Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. Ping.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. Julius. Clearly.” Pringles ordered. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. Sorry. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. past the Noid who’d nodded off.be fair. Not so surprising. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion.” the lynx sang tunelessly. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. a board. Stoically. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. Surprisingly feminine forename. a bucket. moreover. the pain would have been intolerable. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. asswipe. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. Pantene Pro-V enriched. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. Instinctively. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand . This was no ordinary water. both literally and metaphorically. “You know I can’t tell you that. “And grease in just a minute. With enormous effort. began dragging him out of the cell.” Clean went crazy. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. with a butt-ripping jerk. Without pausing for breath. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. “Let’s find out what he knows first. Veritably. However.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. Under normal circumstances. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. The persecutor paused. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. It was P&G water. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. Is that what you’re saying. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. come to think of it. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. Mr Clean will clean your house. Louis?” Playing for time. It contained a chair. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. Ping. Ping. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. the one that controls cross-dressing. One-handedly. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Ping.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. With a bestial bellow. “Take it easy.
It’s common knowledge. “I could do with a shave. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. he tied Louis down. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. Howling with fury. fraught though they had been. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. especially for so little reward. Louis. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. pate glistening. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. “Nice lather. Masochistically shaving against the grain. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books. The ladies like it that way.” “Correct.” Clean crowed. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face.” Admirable though it was. “Recognise this?” he raged. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. The one without the battery.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. though. He had overlooked one crucially important item. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. though. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. His training kicked in. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. Rrrrrrr. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. Strangely. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans.” he spluttered. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. You don’t owe Unilever anything. It’s the best a brand can get. which creaked and groaned from want of use. “Five precision blades.” Louis retorted. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. he asked Louis to reconsider. Mostly. it was costing him a small fortune. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. Quickly and efficiently.” “Glad to hear it. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. Make it easy on yourself. Cursing and swearing. They’re about to abandon your brand name.” Muscles bulging. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. But he had miscalculated. Even at wholesale prices. Wouldn’t they? . “Tell us what we want to know.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. Yes.secrets. eyes glinting.
” . Are you ticklish. But securely bound and helplessly splayed.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do. they tell me.” Louis tried to resist. “Kill him. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. though. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken.” Pringles suggested. Clean. He really did. Cats love a tickle. “We blindsided you with that one. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. “Try the swiffer. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent.” Pringles said. electrostatically. It was time for a change in tactics. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles.” Louis gasped. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. he was a giggling. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. then turned to go.” “Cool. the American management guru. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. “You learn something new every day. gibbering wreck in no time. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. I never knew that. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt.Clean was getting nowhere fast. “Well. By blindly following Gladwell.” Pringles said. “It doubles as a tickling stick. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation.
ethical. Second. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. release the furry football prisoners. “It’s nothing. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. The reason rather was that. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. We can talk to ACME. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. Far from leading Louis to his doom. That little brand of yours has potential. Reluctantly. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. cut corners. He was on a rescue mission.” Orlov lied authoritatively. Pegasus was basically kind.” Unconvinced. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. First. which was worrying for a working dromedary. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. They weren’t part of the plot. “But see your vet anyway. Qualitywise. They were part of the plot against the plot. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. bluffed the brusque beast and. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. Pretending that they hadn’t noticed the state of his kisser – though both had heard scandalous stories about promiscuous Puffin Books – Bella and Orlov forgave him. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. when the chips were down.” “What about you. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. just perfect for recessionary times. keep body and soul together. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. He was capitalism in microcosm. make the sale. as gods go. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. Third. but wish three was unnecessary. They had raised the stakes. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. He couldn’t help it. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. Not long after liftoff. move the merchandise.” . He owed them three wishes. keen to do good. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. Your prices are competitive.
gradually descending through the clammy clouds. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. Pegasus was getting frisky too. with a slight cough of embarrassment. How dare he drop them . Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side.” There was no persuading him. “The objective you seek is upstream. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. the threesome took off. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. There’s the Raid Bugs. there might be one or two. Bella. I’m in the dingleberry business. Although Bella didn’t like heights. With no realistic alternative. There’s Caterpillar. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. Decrepit. as brand names go. That vessel will take you there. he’d learned something from the Roc. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. the brand band agreed. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. Forthright as ever. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. snaking camel trains.” Pegasus snorted. And. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. closely-packed settlements. half as old as time. Flashes of lightning. The beetle had a business to run. “Hold tight. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. But dung beetles are persona non grata. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs.” the flying horse finally announced. yet beautiful. “What’s this?” Bella asked. though. “This is as far as I go. one step above slugs and snails. Pegasus didn’t pause. dotted with iridescent oases. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. “Okay. A flurry of feathery flutters later. He’d take them as far as he could. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness.” Louis chipped in.“I’m a dung beetle. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones.com basin. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. herds of wild horses. soaring up and away. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. laid into the winged god. sludgy and sluggish.” He circled and banked and glided. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. Not as beautiful as the jungle. Evidently. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. okay. “specially designed for young children. A vast river. As far as most people are concerned. but no further. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. they came to rest beside a small jetty. Nobody loves us. “we’re coming in to land. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone.” Orlov added. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. rolled before them. It was forbidding.
a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. but as long as they keep the Captain part. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. “I intend to. “Yes. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. Birdseye showed them around. brothers and sister. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures.” Bella ventured. “Have a nice day. 4X beer. A grey-bearded.” Feeling a little left out. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. snapped open its wings. modestly.” the captain conceded. A flash in the pan website. plosives.” They didn’t know how it was. open-faced figure. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. Kit-Kat. Welcome on board. You don’t belong in BrandLand. “Betty Crocker.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. sibilants. “Welcome to the jungle.” Louis said nothing.” “Correct. up and away. You’re no loss. aspirates. K-X soda. “Compare the market. X-Box.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. “I’m called Iglo in France. They use my proper name in Britain. Coca-Cola. Hence Kodak. “I guess we better get going then. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye.” Orlov contributed. The old salt nodded sagely. You know how it is. with its connotations of edginess. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. Earnestly. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. “The B-sound’s effective too. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. energy: X-Factor. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. You’re not proper brand icons anyway.” he corrected. X-tra strong mints.” a cordial voice chortled. landlubbers. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. “Captain Iglo. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. There wasn’t much to see: a . What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. It’s the k-sound. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. Calvin Klein. The dude was also reduced to navigating a rundown steamboat that stank of rotten fish up a dirty old river in the back end of beyond.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. aka Iglo. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. Krispy Kreme. P-P-P-Penguin. X-series sports cars. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. excitement. I presume. KFC. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive.” With that. Campbell’s Soup. you see. You’re a joke. apparently.” “Captain Birdseye. “I can see into the future. I don’t particularly mind.
The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. it shouldered its way upstream. Just. “I’ll take your word for it. a gimcrack forecastle. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. steering a route of least resistance. it was a plausible brand yarn and. every air miles offer. However. As shipshape as they’d ever be. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. He’d been there. Captain Birdseye cast off. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here.” she said. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. as if unconvinced by her reply.” Birdseye replied.” He nodded. “There are three tributaries.” “I think it’s exhaustion. by others. Every sales promotion. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. stained with jolly jack tar. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. Bella. Diet. every loyalty . she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. every free gift scheme. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. “The ACME Horde. The Trove of Death. bought the T-shirt. Diet’s the least turbulent. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river.compact cabin. I know treasure seekers when I see them. albeit steady as she goes. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. not to say faintly ludicrous. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. We’ve been on a long journey. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. every lucky winner draw. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke.” Eyes twinkling. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. Sceptical yet intrigued. Classic and Zero. The jetty was soon behind them and. it’s called by some. “So. Captain. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander. It’s pretty inhospitable country.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. done that. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. “The Cokenoco. “Taste it.” “Right. With a barf and a bellow. Progress was slow.” “I wasn’t going to ask. And was wearing it under his uniform. “Before you ask.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged. After the requisite toot of the whistle. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes.” He handed her an old pewter cup. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. lost in their own thoughts.
win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. who sells it on. According to old wives’ tales. In return for a fee. privilege card redeemable premium. win a house.card. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings.” . And it’s buried in them thar hills. win a million. win a car. scratch card. complete the sentence. every collect the tokens. win a holiday. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality. that is. reward or guarantee. every money off voucher.
Riboflavin. It’s one of our special editions.” “It’s okay. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. “No added sugar. “Must be a nightmare after a storm. “The horror. guys. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. or had been fairly recently. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. Tips. “I got it covered. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. Every so often.” the lynx intervened.G. The horror. “It’s that way. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden.” it parroted. Louis and Orlov disembarked. It was humid. The throbbing ceased. Her companions didn’t disagree.” the old boatman added. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims.Chapter Eighteen Tony. catchphrases and suchlike.” she observed. However. Niacin. as Bella. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. Burning Bright The jungle closed in. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. Guinness is good for you”. they forged forcefully ahead. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. Screeches. yammering at top speed. “Intuition. She merely hoped against hope that a herd of tasty Investec zebras – or strongly scented Airwick ostriches – was in the vicinity and on the big cats’ menu. The path was narrow but passable. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch.” Orlov winked at Bella.” Orlov murmured. straplines. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. the MGM lion. “I’ll wait for you. as the going got increasingly rutted. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else.” he said. slogans. A trail of hoof. the Exxon tiger. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. to everyone’s relief. Tony. if a trifle slippery. Guinness is good for you. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk.” “I’ll say. “You can’t miss it. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. “Instinct?” Bella asked. The noise was deafening. in a foot race. . It’s big in Brazil. screaming the praises of P.” Grinning despite herself.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. She didn’t want to know. It was hot. “Calcium. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent.
shelf-talkers. posters. A second drummer joined in. if not quite unbearable. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. This was no ordinary ceremony. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. Orlov and Louis looked worried. “Ssssssshhhhhh. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. then a third. they inched forward and. The clammy heat was.” Bella hissed. Bella burst out laughing. coupons. as well they might. Chuckling. brandishing a burning brand. cut cases. Boom-boom. Boom. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. “Advent. Emboldened. With a blood-curdling yell. The drumming stopped. Boom. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. Boom. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins.” Orlov whispered. Boom-boom. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. easing a succulent aside. dump bins. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. many miles. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude.” “Ssssshhhhh. Boom. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. decidedly unpleasant. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. the high priest of high fashion. big brand in west Africa. minus the vocal accompaniment. was scattered around the periphery. as the ceremony proper commenced. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. If ACME’s behind this. however.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. though they weren’t the centre of attention. Fast as the cobra was. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. Boom. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. Boom-boom. “Let’s just watch and wait. A great shout of glee rose up . The crowd held its breath. must have carried for many. Suddenly. Unfortunately. a big. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre.” Louis was less than impressed. it didn’t last long. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. Boom. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers.listening intently from time to time. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike.
Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. Miss Banana. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. Then another brand character contest kicked off. she started dancing. Without further ado. circled slowly searching for an opening. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. Aghast at the brand butchery. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. with fighting as part of the fun. seductively. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. Which of course it did. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. Bella concluded that Louis was right. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. because a lot of money had been lost. the cruiserweight climax of the card. In his top hat and monocle. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. she encouraged the crowd to join in. Howling with bestial abandon. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. Mr Peanut. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. removed his monocle and. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. Clearly. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. The first combatant strode in imperiously. slowly. belly dancing. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. those whose side-bets were misplaced. an attempt to propitiate the gods of western capitalism – gods who were deserting their true believers in the deepening economic downturn – with appropriate acts of brand sacrifice and marketing mortification. Luckily. as the onlookers went ape. Peanut paused. meanwhile. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. The polar bear burst asunder. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. Booing derisively. His followers showered him with confetti- . Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. the main event. The drums started up again. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. as a groan escaped from the majority. Transfixed. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. Ingeniously. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. This also ended on a disappointing note. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. pretending it had steamed up. She started peeling off her skin.from one group of onlookers. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. The response was lukewarm. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. however.
like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the
opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.
Brands Can Only Get Better
Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.
The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the
since they are exposed to them more frequently. a non-native species that were doing to footwear brands – and fashion generally – what cane toad frogs did to the Adstralian outback some years back. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. . Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. He added. Bella wasn’t so sure. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. But she said nothing. whirlpools. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. But not right away. shallows. which was a first for Mustapha. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. and whisked him off to meet his doom. exchanged greetings and. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. A strange strain of fish. similar to slow food. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch.form of sandbanks. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. shook him down. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. The captain said they were Crocs. the jungle less and less dense. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. rapids. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. eddies. slow travel. CEOs need to chill a little. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. apropos of nothing. He’d been there. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. Izod and analogous alligators. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. of continuing with the same basic proposition. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. after asking what was biting. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. Understandably. brand. If anything. He was a Mars Inc. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. The river got narrower and narrower. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. He knew what P&G were capable of. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. slow parenting and so on. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. of conviction. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. chewed the fat about brand longevity. They stopped. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. top-hatted and smirking. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. The lynx laughed it off. that he never laid a fish finger on the cabin boys in his care and all that stuff about exposing his cod balls was boloney.
“It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. asking after his welfare. in an awestruck voice.” Bella snapped. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them.” Orlov quipped. he’s really let himself go. don’t forget. The overweight icon said nothing.As the brand band slid upstream.” “He’s big. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. right in front of the distended inner tube. He looked in pretty good shape. like little boys playing truant. That’s definitely not Doughboy. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. wondering if they could do anything for him. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. they spotted Strider. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue.” Bella contradicted.” “Heaven help us. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. allowing for the onrushing current. He doles out the awards. run a few errands. believe me.” “No. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath.” Louis sighed. the Johnnie Walker whisky character. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. Mustapha looked confused. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). more like. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. no. The remains of a massive . deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. At a bend in the river. There were no signposts to speak of.” Louis said. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.” Louis continued. The Michelin Man. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. “They were airbrushed. Louis and Orlov fell about. “They’re all at it nowadays. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs. bigger than the Marlboro Man. even though he knew he shouldn’t. held her steady in the centre of the stream. Not far ahead of them. Barclays Bank. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. though not inaccurately. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. “Five star restaurants. “Jeez. all right. “Who?” “Bibendum. He throttled back and. either. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. No sweat. a superhuman snowman.” Mustapha said. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke.” “Photoshop. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand.” Orlov gasped. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead.
” Orlov said. the mist descended. “It isn’t alive. . high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb. The blimp burped instead. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. “I think it’s a statue. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. Smiling appreciatively.” But it wasn’t.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. ravaged by fine wines. And it was. but he still said nothing. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more. White to start. Before long. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. Red thereafter.
“Maybe back in the good old days. She had other things to attend to. Close encounters. Taking command once more. She could sense it. practically. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. They moved around above them. But Bella wasn’t listening. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. Little green men. Another loud hum struck up to port. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Bella stood in the forecastle. Her brain had gone numb. sometimes to port. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. UFOs. There was Quisp. The fug literally vibrated at one point. She couldn’t think of any more. Brand abduction. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . “What do you reckon. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. Orlov?” Bella called. he gurned from time to time. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. such as it was. “But in this day and age. sometimes to starboard.” More in hope than expectation. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature.” he shouted. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. There was Google’s Android software icon. touch it. pulsing intermittently.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. smell it. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. right? Since the 1950s. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. A humming sound started up to starboard. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. There’s nothing to worry about. No good will come of this. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. ACME was within her grasp. at least. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. “Area 51. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. sometimes arcing across the sky.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. like an air raid siren. Bella bellowed back. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. “We’re entering Aliens country.
Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. presumably to another planet. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. cut into the living rock. Ho. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. they mounted purposefully. Louis made to tie the tub up. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. bramble . though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. Before long. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. The epitome. “Shut him up. A dull rumble roared ahead. flight by flight. to the tableland above. Smirking despite their perilous situation. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. Brand stretch is bad news. At the side of the falls. “This is Fanta Falls. very close. legs lashing.” Orlov did the needful. Spectral silence reigned. Several flights of stairs later. eyeball-melting orange in hue. though. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. it was definitely the colossus of brands. Bella licked the side of her beak.yammering that prevented rational thought. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. Said they were legendary. A vast orange sodafall. There’s no point persecuting him any further. Bella’s band were close. The landing lights had moved on. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. He’s done his duty by us. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony.” she shouted to Louis. let her go. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. “This is where we get off.” Bella hissed. It got louder and louder. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. even. rather. someone. he gave up. Ho. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. The captain’ll come round soon enough.” she called. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. The buzzing had stopped. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. The acme. bracken patches. “I know where we are. “Please.” Louis didn’t disagree. The lull didn’t last. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. bubbling and fizzing. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. but Bella said no. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray.” With a natural nautical flair. Eventually. “Hush. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. broke out his wings and took flight. feelers flailing. as a wall of fizzy water. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. sucking his thumb. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. allegedly. An intense stare. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. They’re impassable. Without pausing for breath.
of course. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. However. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. “and then see what’s what. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. As they drew closer to the structure. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. nothing less than BrandLand University College. neo-classical pastiche. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. cold. while trying to work out where they were. As Bella and the boys strolled past. “It’s Professor Kipling.” she said. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. I suspect. cold. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. “I just don’t get it. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. Bibendum. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. wall-mounted day planners. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. According to a poll in Time magazine. surely. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. Beefeater. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. The others gathered round to do likewise. Bella was bewildered. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. Truth. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. They set off for the administrative building. to be precise. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. a new university. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. more beautiful still were the students. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises.bunches and hardy karst grasses. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. Certainly. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. too. It was a university. grikes and runnels ahead. He was right. almost art deco. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. ABC peacock-dotted lawns.” he said.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling.
Pochacco the dog. mouthing bowwow for good measure. “It’s Mr Kipling. There’s hope for us yet. if not exactly in seventh heaven. Kipling’s door was at the very end. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. Pekkle the duck. He winked by way of replying. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. a few moments later. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable.a. They piled into the lift and. Louis would have volunteered to help. Louis.” “He’s in. “Excellent. Picke Bicke mouse. then reappeared waving excitedly. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. disappeared into the belly of the beast. Exasperated. Bella shook her head.body. That’s a good thing.s. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. “He isn’t a professor after all. a. “At last. “There’s a board by the door that says so. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. while holding open the heavy glass door. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. Don’t be bashful. Understandably. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline.” There was indeed. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. Not him too. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. “Enter. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor.” Bella noted. if Bella hadn’t glared at him.” Orlov corrected.” . especially after the Bertie Bassett business – by stopping at every available campus map to check their rate of progress and re-orientate herself as necessary. “Enterrrrr. It’s even more elevated than Professor.” “Actually. rats. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up.” “Great. They knocked politely. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. a kind of inverted snobbery. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics.” a melodious voice responded. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. “This is the place.” Mustapha crowed.” he shouted.” Orlov sighed.p. Top medics are always called Mister.
Louis nodded. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. Orlov shrugged. Undeterred.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. raised her flipper. thought about things for a second. . then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. and pushed. Bella took a deep breath.
Dozens of them. all ceramic. Salvadore Kitty. She imagined. somehow. but not on the second. “Is that like the glass ceiling. Cataletto. She didn’t know what to expect. His handlebar . Catstable. what few portrayals there are. all silent. that it would be filled with books and not much else.” Mr Kipling said. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. “Second.” she asked. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. curled in a ball. dewy eyed. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. which stretched from floor to ceiling. though most of these were open and in use. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. She was right on the first count. “Before you ask. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. “only for cats?” Smiling. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. and several others she didn’t recognise. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. Pussain. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. Books there were. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. as brand mascots. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. As Bella gazed around the room. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. with black necktie and starched collar. as product spokespersians. smiling obsequiously. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. But there were long chains of Russian cats. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. It was the statues that surprised her. are often negative. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. “First. etc. Statues of cats. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. There were paintings by Catavaggio. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. Whereas dogs are everywhere. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. cats are discriminated against and. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”.
his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. since the brand was a lynx in name only. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. proper. Indeed. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. much less the BrandLand University campus. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. or said he did. However there was a good reason for that. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle.” Kipling conceded. Orlov. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. rose from his desk. “And you. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. “Let me show you something. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. He rubbed his chin idly. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. “I see. along with the space-invader sound effects. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. lost in thought. he was less impressed by. Louis. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. To all intents and purposes. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. “I see.” Kipling said. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. industrious. Black Beauty. intellectual acuity.” he continued. The patriarch pushed back his chair. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. Bella inhaled deeply.” Kipling said calmly. clandestine success. turning to Orlov. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. nor the surrounding countryside. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. peering at her intently. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. it transpired. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. . unerring. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins.” he called. about flipper fatigue. then rose to greet his visitors. “Correct. He recognised Bella right away. As it was true confessions time. He knew her grandfather well.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors.
” “In a way. “So. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. Bella awoke. Watership Down. the Hare and the Tortoise.” At a loss.” Orlov quipped. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. Mr Kipling sat beside her. Call of the Wild. animal emblem products in particular. worried looks on their faces. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. The Gruffalo. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere.” A light went on above her head. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment. The clouds parted. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. let alone a committee that calls the shots. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. What you see. “It’s more intangible than that. It’s a fake. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. Bad as capitalism can be. She tried again. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments.” “An exceedingly good fake. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. “We’re talking about a state of mind. “Take a sip. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. With a start. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. She’d been out for hours. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. surrounded by plaster cats. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. Bella. Bella was too stunned to respond. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. Everything became clear. Academy Country Mammal Education. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. Bella. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. used by all and sundry. purple cows. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. ACME is a generic term. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. Bella. The Ugly Duckling.Animal Farm. where we study black swans. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. Toad of Toad Hall. “If it’s not any of the buildings. unprotected by copyright or trademark. a glass of hard liquor in hand. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone.” Bella said. There is no controlling force. I take it. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. with a . A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. to Kipling’s irritation. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly.” he said. is an agglomeration of ACMEs.
where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. or so the story goes.” With a good-try smile. just like these slices of cake. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. I’m okay. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. He succumbed. It’s a test. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. separates the inseparable. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. renders the similar dissimilar. “No really. You should consider a career in academia. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. someone once said. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. It was a rhetorical question.” After several days of stress and strain and skin-of-her-teeth escapes – to say nothing of unanticipated orphanhood and sudden friendicide – Bella badly needed a little lift. “We live in a world of identical products. Exactly.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. Very impressed. “Branding. however. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. distilled from dead dogs. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. instant rewards. All this way for what? What indeed. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. “This isn’t a snack. Effective branding is a very slow process.” Disappointed.” The meerkat nodded sagely.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. “Oh. . Orlov dropped his eyes.” With a knowing look. One was right in front of the lynx. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. “I’m not hungry. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. she thought. “Exactly.” he said. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. especially in these days of instant results. “These are the essence of branding. raising a flipper in protest. However. Kipling returned to his desk.” Bella said. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. It looked and smelled delicious. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. He was starving. aren’t they? Angel cake. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. to her companions’ relief. though. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. “I’m impressed. Curvoisier delivered. though.twinkle in his eye. instant returns. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. I could acquire a taste for that. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. then stowed the bottle away. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. say. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. We need people like you round here. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. instant impact…or else. emphasising. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection. perhaps? Apple pie. “Almond slices. The rewards are enormous in the end. As Bella sat up. Aleksandr.
“I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. He needn’t have bothered. at least in the short run. his rudeness. You establish a monopoly. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties.” . fast and effective. finishing her brandy.. You swallow the competition. eyeing up the other slice. It’s cheap.” Louis added.” Mr Kipling replied.” “I still don’t see.” Bella said. Exactly.. Louis struck his best cute cat pose.” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. “I think you do. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed. “Exactly.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
Models and Explanations. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. Bella had never heard the expression before. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. Dogs’d do anything. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. was counter-cyclical. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. say anything. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. rather. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. his slaughter of the innocents. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. He wanted power. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. He’d concocted a credible external threat. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. according to Kipling. in short. It was a blatant power-play. as did the early 1900s. The demand for spokescreatures. though. Bella cursed herself bitterly. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. Humankind. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. his call for a cull of isabellines. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. Next are bipedal animals. Captain Birdseye. designed to make his breed the boss. emperors. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. Had it been McKitty. Le Penguin didn’t want that. As did the Great Chain of Branding. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. chinstraps or rockhoppers. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. If anything. to say nothing of tourists. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. swear to anything. when western capitalism also wobbled. Breed-interest. those that walk or stand upright . No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. is that penguins are as popular as ever. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. they were much less photogenic than adélies. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. The irony. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand.Chapter Twenty-two Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands What a fool she’d been! How could she have been so stupid? Le Penguin’s rabblerousing speech. However. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Michelin Man. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. Accordingly. frankly. Cute critters remind them of childhood. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. the suckers at the centre of it all. was motivated by self-interest. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark.
Clearly.” “Actually.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox.” Louis said. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to.in semi-human fashion. Louis seemed excited. . as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. Beaten. or so she believed. is red in tooth and claw. But all was not lost. Branding. though not as far down as six-legged. dogs. She recalled. at bottom. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. The Great Chain explained a lot. meerkats and prairie dogs. monkeys. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. sadly. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. because penguins had done pretty well. She glanced across at Kipling. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. “I think it’s time to go. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. Le Penguin had won. to the top of the penguin pile. Not completely. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. sheep. penguins. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. spiders and cockroaches. the climax of Animal Farm. most notably bears. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. Well beaten. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. Quadrupeds like cows. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. They hugged. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. She’d been a fool. given its size and growth prospects. with shame. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. Easy-going as a rule. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. Worse. much less millipedes. they’d been living on a pig’s back. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. they say. She turned to her companions. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. Literally. They were a study in contrasts.” Bella purred. She’d been beaten. guys. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. crocodiles are further down the rankings. cats. naturally. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. by and large. Bella felt fit to be tied. Bella. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. She was going to miss him. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. “I’ll be staying here for a while. The entire journey had been a waste of time. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. However. She’d been outsmarted. Recession. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. Not by a long chalk. tigers. “Rrrrrrrrr. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. She’d fallen for it. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. or possibly rockhoppers. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. Not yet. rhinos.
didn’t you?” “Just a little one. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. Apparently. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. “…and. I could do with it. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. You’re too kind. Taste It. Still chatting. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry.” he giggled. he looked forward to attending her lecture. “Why’s that. Attenborough. I’m afraid. However. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. including Catch It. Ever proper. condiments and preserves. “That’s our Simples secret. Shoot It. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. Assam. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. The meerkat was mistaken. To his shame and embarrassment.” Louis laughed. kissed him on the cheek and. Cook It. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. and the not so highly regarded Department of . Skin It. which was sure to prove provocative. Toast It.” Mirthful. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. I’m Flat Eric 2. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. Aleksandr. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. Bella. She held him tightly. before whispering in his ear. Trim It. eyes shining with meerkat tears. with a come-here gesture to Louis. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. Follow me. the way I skimmed so many others. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. But I skimmed that particular entry. “You gave Kipling the look. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. the vaunted TV naturalist. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. I know. Clean It. Scoff It. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. as well as with sauces. pickles. “If ever you need…” “Yes. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. for starters. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. Bella. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation.” he said. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy).” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. “Thanks. for example. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. “I’m staying too. Beaten to his own punch line. “I think we can do better than that.0. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. I’m a fraud. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. I know. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold.” She leant forward. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. “I’ve got a lot to learn. Cambridge.” the great brand man chuckled. Thanks. I’m a fad.” Touched. Her latest was called Snare It.Sad-faced.
it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits.Popular Culture. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. I’m a desert rat. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. plus matching undergarments. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. the great . one Mustapha Midden. they emerged into a compact. “But where?” Louis inquired. and. “After you’ve cleaned up here. So much so. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel.” “No can do. beehives. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. “you need permission. “I like this place. With six legs and a little get up and go. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. Eventually. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. Her utter amazement. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. the throng dispersed. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. Bella tried them on. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. before you know it. Before long.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. Can’t stand the cold. All six of them. however. suppliers.” Orlov said. credit…” No less nonplussed. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. while rubbing his legs gleefully. bobcat’s your uncle. she looked like a sacred ibis. Mustapha. ponytails. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner.” He rubbed his claws again. don’t you know. With the hood up. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. “But how?” Bella asked. all with a snazzy scarab logo. “I’ve got something for you. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. Under normal circumstances. raw material. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. Mustapha pulled out a full-length.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. “But surely. bookstore. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. They were a perfect fit.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry).” “Many claws make light work.” Orlov said.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. “You might be needing these for your journey. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces. Mustapha stared at them askance.” With a flourish. “All sold out. lookingood-ladies palaver. though.
glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. On Kipling’s call. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. Louis. she was gone. the arbiter. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. Bella hugged Aleksandr. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. . where she awaited further instructions. the scribe.
does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . Bella replied in the affirmative. yah. Isaac and Nina. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. the offbeat plan solidified. “Yah. anymore. Bella didn’t hold that against her.” she replied diplomatically. She had nothing to lose. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. she had lost her best friend. “We fiddled while the brand burned. If he’d been on this Rolls. Ogilvy hated flying. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. “They don’t make ’em like you. she asked. So did Bella. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. much less defeated fierce macaronis. I am. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed.” Ecstasy said immodestly. As they rose to their cruising altitude.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. As they flew over Fanta Falls. It was true what they said. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. though. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. If not quite Anna Karenina. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. Bella was spellbound. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. Paris Humboldt. She asked instead about the brand. During the appeasement era. luxurious.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. apparently. But after Pegasus and the Roc.” “Rather. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. She had lost her parents. which revealed the many and varied glories of BrandLand – from Best Buy Bay in the west and Dollar Tree Swamp way down south to Radio Shack Mountain Range in the east – she decided to give it a go anyway. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. lowly place though it was.” she said. serene. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. Bella thought. suffice it to say. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. with impenetrable jungle on either side. “You’re looking well on it. under German ownership. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. then proceeded to deliver a blowby-blow account of the torrid love affair between Lord Montagu and Eleanor Thornton that instigated the emblem’s creation. redolent of Roedean. Why. she was getting used to it. complimenting the carrier on her build quality.
Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. He’s a tyrant. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. it was bitter. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. More and more turned round and faced skywards. the Iceland ice shelf. It’s a trick. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded.” “Tell the tale. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. It was invigorating. Bella felt a chill in the air. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. Buffeted by howling winds. all shouting as one. except that there were more macaronis than before. Outraged. The isabellines must be found! The emperors are responsible! The cunning kings are irresponsible! The rebellious rockhoppers will pay for aiding and abetting their isabelline brethren! ACME insists!! True to form. Bella screeched at the multitude below. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing.“That’s where we went wrong. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. Bella could feel herself welling up. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. in the far distance. she mused. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. look. It was beautiful too. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. She could see the Homebase Glacier. make the sale. “Yes. the deep blue Boots crevasses. He sounded crazier than ever.” “Quite. taking in the incredible apparition above them. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. Before long. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts.” All talked out. She could see them pointing their flippers. Perched on the back of a flying angel. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes.” Ecstasy sighed. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. looking for a suitable landing site. all regimented. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. wrapped up . Bella believed. The bitterer the better. Bella whirled round. Sad. The muster was much better organised. She was home. She couldn’t make it out at first. A murmur commenced. all equidistant.” Taken aback. It was déjà vu all over again. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. an enormous shocked intake of breath. moreover. Almost instantly. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. Look. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. folks. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. Suddenly she could. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. I suppose. It was wonderful. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. a penguin power play. don’t fall for it. Better yet. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. even though she’d no home to go to. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound.” Carried away on the wind. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. though some adélies looked up.
She held fire. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. “I am. “According to the Meow Jones Index. I met him. These were the people who’d killed her parents. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. a messenger. head covered in an enormous cowl. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. they seemed to say.” She paused again. because she was one of their own. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. He vacated the microphone. Having planted the seed of hope. It was hard to control her anger. Antithesis. a sign. Denunciation was doomed. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. Even macaronisation won’t save us. However. She bit her lip. in delight and relief. while pulling back her khaki cowl. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. But he couldn’t interrupt. All brands must pass. She took a deep breath. which of course is our community’s speciality. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. followed by those of gentoo descent. as her image appeared on the giant screen. Would it were otherwise. “There is a solution. He quickly regained his composure. it seemed. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. the coming creature is the prairie dog. Ten days ago. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. As one creature falls in human estimation.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. as he tried to work out her angle. however.” Bella announced to the multitude. it needed several seconds to germinate. another rises.” . I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. here on behalf of ACME. The crowd gasped again.in a great taupe cloak. Emperors. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. a shot across the bows. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. Inadvertently. a way out for us all. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. “Seize the day. We’re all macaronis now. Very risky. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. The entire crowd squawked in horror. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit.” she whispered to herself. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. she must have been a baleful sight. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. however. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. It was risky. The Ibis. She knew she only had one shot. It requires a little lateral thinking. There is no hope for us. with only her beak protruding. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. Bella swallowed. had finally arrived. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar.
royals royals. “Every prairie dog has its day. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. will have to depilate. of all for one. asshole. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. The dream did. one for all. “I want my MuMi. of togetherness. No more tufts. I know. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. as the gathering made up its mind. “It means removing all tufts. though. Today is my day. even though their natural crests would have to go too. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. “I want my MuMi. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. Kings could be kings. I’ll make an exception.” “Catch you later. Victorious. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. sadly. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. like us. she turned away from the podium. She already had. “I’ll get you for this. It was the riskiest of the lot. No more macaronisation. a huge roar of approval rent the air. She had another card to play. In reality. complete with stylish scarab logo. “Fellow penguins. Bella thought. but the rewards are enormous.” He glared murderously. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging.” the audience shouted. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. Not sceptical. Not bemused. The blackfoots went bananas. This is a heavy price.” “Don’t cull us. “Fear not. we’ll cull you. Having won over the doubters. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. where you belong. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. Even our most extravagantly crested species.” .” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. No more hairpieces.” “Not today you won’t. They look a little like us. The gentoos jumped for joy. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. But with a sick slimeball like you. she looked incredible. you isabelline bitch. penguin parity didn’t exist. And take your tufts with you.” Mmmm. such as our beloved macaronis. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts.” There was complete silence for a second. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. The old order would re-establish itself. Prairie dogs are tuftless. a little like isabellines.The audience exchanged glances. Playful as always. It was all or nothing.” she said calmly. Penguins are passé. Suddenly. emperors emperors. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. though. Enjoy it. They live in large communities like us. I want my MuMi. because I’ll be back. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. Bristling with rage. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. critter.
the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. was draining away inexorably. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. but if it rehabilitated isabellines and helped bond an embittered community – a community that had succumbed to the macaronis’ attempt to exploit recessionary fears for their own foul ends – then the PDF (prairie dog fad) would have achieved its purpose. In the meantime. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . prevalent though pigeonholing was. since penguin popularity had never been higher. or to complain about stereotyping. Finny too. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Akin to chained animals in their phone. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. Orlov had said. mashups and graphic novels. she’d never felt so lonely. admittedly. Look on the bright side. Where there’s muck there’s brands. Sean the Sheep on the other. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. be it the iPod. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. After receiving the congratulations of the Adarctic colony – even the emperors deigned to speak with her – and after recounting an edited version of her adventures to all who asked. She didn’t belong anymore. trampled on though they were. but really didn’t now. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. if not his totemic tufts. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. she told herself. Pixar and Dreamworks. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. Alone with her thoughts. Still. She never really did. the more they exploited it. True. Except it didn’t last long. Rin Tin Tin. according to Mr Kipling. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. For ever.and laptop-equipped cubicles. Mickey Mouse. Thoughts of her dead friend. However. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. she had a job to do. Donald Duck. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. Thoughts of her late parents. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. The cuter the critter. It was unnecessary. there were MuMis to move. Defanged and prettified critters represented freedom for many humans – along with lottery wins and the like – and astute marketers built brands that promised packaged freedom. Stuart Little on the one hand. they dreamed dreams of freedom. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort.
if there were problems with build quality. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. “that there are forty million cats up north. I’ll be passing on P&G. She had a busy time ahead of her. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. She stared over the edge of the glacier. Logistics. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. The sun was low in the sky. let alone satanic macaronis. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. She felt the material with a flipper. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. Mustapha. Air kiss. Bella was all alone. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. smiling at the strangely distant memory. she Skypied Mustapha. who was hard at work on his furballs. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. The crevasse caught her eye. Mustapha. Seemed pretty stout. air kiss.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. the ride was really rather thrilling. She checked her MuMi ensemble. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. she said her fashionista farewells. many maintain. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. “I hope you realise. On a whim. suffice it to say. .” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. Evening.deliverer. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. Mummies are special. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. I was thinking of hiring isabellines.” “I hope you realise. “I’ll be needing agents. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. No one was looking. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot.” Mustapha countered. She glanced around. was drawing in. Bella.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have.” she chided. such as it was. because they already embody the brand. It was time to pay her final respects. darling. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest.” With a smile of admiration. Mummies mean a lot. you know. “I’ll work on it. Laughing. However. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. Actually. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. especially to those without them. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. Ciao. Mustapha changed the subject.” “Goody! Gotta go.
if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. across the bay. A sheet anchor. shrieking with alarmed laughter. screaming. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. She hurtled round bends. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. it descended through IBM Blue. But only for a second. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. The kaleidoscopic colours. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. Both of them did. She corkscrewed like crazy. yourself especially. howling. in fact. punctuated by periods of blind panic. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. more like. A death sentence. BMW Blue. my head hurts. Recklessly. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. eyes watering. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. Alarm bells ringing. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. the warp-factor slide into the sea. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. The previous ride was coming back to her. slow-witted leopard seals. Waterlogged. were incredible to behold. beak aching. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. past slackjawed. She tried to kick the thing off. She pushed and pushed and pushed. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece.” Bella dived head-first into the void. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. not looking where she was going. the precipitous final plunge. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. no way. Pepsi-cola Blue. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. water-resistant. however. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. the great divide. Pale Tiffany blue to start. apart from that downpour up the jungle. The looming twosome merged into one.” he observed. Go faster. to no avail. “You should be ashamed of yourself.“Weeeeeeeeee. Despite her abject terror. “Izzy. her death wish. trying to focus. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. Bella shook her head. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness.” “I…I…I…Oh. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride.” . Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. Uncle Izzy. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. All of a sudden. she remembered the wall of death. Isaac and Nina. It got caught around her ankles. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. She’d forgotten how fast it was. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. moaning and groaning. She bounced over bumps several times. unquestionably. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. young woman. as there always are. She could see stars. Head throbbing. but was far too fearful to care. Paris. more like. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death.
heads bent. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. “Paris is perfectly fine. daddy. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. followed his indicative flipper. she hugged her parents with all her might. daddy. Plans to get a real job. huddled together. head completely clear. Disappearing off like that. There the heiress was. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. all distant relatives. mummy.” He had her on “are”. surrounded by screens. but she’ll live. The decision was made. to his delighted consternation. daughter of mine. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. Bella’s parents came to join her. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. Overcome with emotion. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. “No. she didn’t know what to say. it was Bella’s decision.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. Bella scampered across to her best friend. Staggered. you know. backs bowed.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. and then she saw them. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. to one side of the wall of death divide.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. There’s a bit of scarring. They rushed toward her. “Mummy. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. We smuggled her to safety. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. You owe them an apology.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. However. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. “Worried sick. “So.” . Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. sleeping gently. They had their hands full with Paris. mummy. She’s happy the way she is. Ecstatic. Without a by your leave.” “Miracles never cease. no. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. not knowing what to expect. “Your parents are worried sick about you. daddy. They assumed the worst. Bella leapt up. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. young lady. a proper job. She peeped anxiously over the screen.” Smiling indulgently. Daddy. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. what have you been doing with yourself. They couldn’t find her.” They looked up. you say?” “Yes. looking pale and interesting. she toward them. worried sick. They all talked at once. But her outfit saved her. dearest.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. manifestly in mourning.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way.
” THE END .“What??!!” “As I said. it’s a long story. Let me explain.
Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. prospects.” Needless to say. “That’s a good question. Way back in the early days of the company. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. that at some point in the proceedings. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. because we need to be the . Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. you know. Although no topic was taboo. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. who would win?” And.” “Like a secret message. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. for example. So much so. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. on the web. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it.com. plans and profitability. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. As an Amazon serf explains in his side-splitting account of “Jeff’s gorilla and bear thing”: We would all laugh very hard and look knowingly at each other. the ebullient founder of Amazon. without fail. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. Daisey. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. and the perfect work will do both. I have no fucking idea. This crazy fucking bear is fucking with you from a distance and you’re like ‘Damn!’ because you know that this is how people are going to take care of business.” “Or a plan. Who will win.
Slazenger’s panther or Chester. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. Aflac duck. I mused. the bears who come equipped.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. I conceded. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. a sure fire cure for insomnia. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. petroleum. But. I surmised. favourably.3 Taken aback by this reaction. I fully expected the students to respond positively.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. Bears with guns. I made a start on several others. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. Some time ago. though. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. bombastic and. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). We begin with a little bit of backstory. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. today’s multi-tasking. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. it pains me to report. I cast around for excuses. short. Puma’s puma. admittedly. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. I asked a large group of students to read Ted Levitt’s legendary article “Marketing Myopia” and write down their reactions to the great guru’s words of wisdom.2 Much to my surprise. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. Maybe. I didn’t get round to most of them. the case studies in the original – railroads. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. and. is the secret lovechild of Betty Crocker and the Michelin Man? Are Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima related? Does Morris the Cat eat Charlie the Tuna on Fridays? These are some of the questions I set out to answer in The Penguin’s Progress. Maybe. And now that BrandLand “exists” – as a kind of Oz with advertising – there’s no reason why it can’t be revisited from time to time. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. Some students were blown away. hey.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it.armed bears. the students hated Levitt’s essay. Granted. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. interestingly. They found it dull. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. All things considered. Maybe. I mean. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. enthusiastically. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. boring. Jaguar’s jaguar.
Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. if not undaunted. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). One was the latest management bestseller. Undeterred. by the task I’d set myself. I did what many novice novelists do. Marilyn Monroe.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. My students. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. The Marketing Code. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. as an aberration. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States.5 Dead bodies abounded. Let alone thrillers. You couldn’t make it up. as a quirk of the Irish. Nevertheless. what’s more. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. . But then I noticed something intriguing. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. The second was a Stephen King or a Robert Ludlum or a John Grisham or a Jackie Collins or a Barbara Taylor Bradford or something broadly similar. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. the writing role model was Dan Brown. If anything. Except that I did. Once again. while queuing up for the cash register. When flying around the country. naturally). The antidote. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. In my case. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. much less reading the wretched things. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. As an inveterate booklover. a literary genre that may or may not have been my own invention but which appeared to offer the best of both worlds by combining relevance and readability. tongue-in-cheek. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice.Unfortunately. There was only one problem. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. Between 2005 and 2008. as they say. clearly. Agents & Dealers. secret codes proliferated. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. I had never written fiction before. in effect. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. as did Bono. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. They cost an absolute fortune. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. and The Lost Logo.
No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. though. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. And quite a few of my later ones. The whole process. Red Bull energy drink. if truth be told. Stork margarine. My intention was to tap into the narrative turn in management thinking while building upon the fable/fairytale foundations that had produced the management bestsellers I alluded to in the Foreword. say.). market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. characterisation and more besides.6 I felt it was time to get back in the scholarly saddle and try to catch up with the academic caravan that had moved on in my absence. consumer behaviour. My original intention was to leave things there. funnily enough. The same is true of fiction. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. action sequences especially. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. of William Golding. similarly. Essentially. pacing. chronology. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. real world marketing problems don’t come in neat and tidy packages and to that extent my works of fiction are more true to life than traditional textbooks. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. Students. Crocs shoes. etc. However. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. However. techniques and writing style of academia. I now realise that I was trying to write a thriller and a textbook and a comedy and a parody and a campus novel and an integrated trilogy. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. It seemed like an interesting project and. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas.In retrospect. By far my biggest mistake. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. Like any learner. True. the kernel for the covering. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. was that I tried to do too much. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. Ditto my fiction. I suppose. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. Nowadays. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. as it gave me . full stop. never mind bring them all together successfully. Yes. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy.
Pom Somkabcharti. The Penguin’s Progress was born. computer applications et al. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. the British comedian Peter Kay released a bestselling charity remix featuring a huge choir of animated characters from children’s television series singing a medley of The Jacksons’ “Can You Feel It”. not unlike those in the Decameron. In this case. songs. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Rob cut through the crap. et al. bits of bytes brought together as books. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative.7 In music. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. In the literary world. In the visual arts. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. Stop writing parodies.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. the reader. In movies. Whistler. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. are exemplary media mashups. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. Bring the brands to life. What’s more. mashups are digital medleys. Rob Williams. videos. the way I did before. wasn’t impressed. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. the breakup of rock band Oasis. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” . Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. car parking in Tel Aviv. Arabian Nights. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. In television. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. Let the brand characters be characters. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. meanwhile. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. Canterbury Tales. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. My brilliant publisher. admittedly. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. he commanded. I mean.
Lux the Penguin works for Linux. fan fiction. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. their copyrights.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. though a hardline. Jennifer Government. True. Charlie the Tuna. their intellectual property. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. Indeed. consumer response has been highly favourable. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. the brand characters in The Penguin’s Progress are treated pretty respectfully – they’re closer to product placements than piratical misappropriations – and of course the book’s written for educational purposes rather than commercial gain. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. In a shared narrative space. As one commentator ruefully observes: . Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. That said. Brand characters are trademarked. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. That elephant is called copyright. of late. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. she’s Borden born and bred. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. What’s more. between the covers of glossy magazines. in the main. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. There’s an elephant in the room. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. Ask any counterfeiter. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. which features more than 3. on roadside billboards. however. Pattern Recognition. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. among others). and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. let alone Red Lobster. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. for certain consumers at any rate.
Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. Madison. the “Faber Fellowship”. live to regret it. bears or tigers. It does so with satirical intent. their teeth and genital organs. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. who was a notorious borrower. professional sports teams. however. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. the dreadful how-to tome. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents.10 I can’t deny. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. Alun Richards. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. And every song ever written has been informed by music that the composer has absorbed in his or her earlier life…The YouTube remix culture is thus a new take on a venerable tradition. Just think of Handel. . And yet. As a critic by inclination. but the conventional marketing textbook. the genius screenwriter. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. We seek to empower kingdoms. should be directed at me. unconventional ways. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. last but not least. my incredible family – Linda. As if. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. then we may all. The Bedside Book of Beasts. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. Holly and Sophie – who listened to my blossoming “beast fable” with a mixture of mild amusement and mounting concern that daddy had finally taken leave of his senses. To normal human beings. hawks or eagles. For one thing. except for the lawyers. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. Any criticism. Rob Williams. This attempt may not be successful. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. original. As pastoralists and sport hunters. the standard academic article. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. nations. the author. and. though. we pulverise their livers and bones. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. That’s their prerogative. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. TPP is an attempt to do just that. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. I grant you.
for example. incidentally. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. whose art takes from then and now. See Stephen Brown. Both. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. 2004. from Claude and the comic book. 2002). mine has been reasonably productive. Marketing Theory 4 (3). 2005). and Christ the Lion of Judah. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. 209-238. Don’t all rush at once. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. It’s very widely cited. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. London. experiment and belief. such as iPhone apps. pp. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. Among northern peoples.feathers. 3. or a deceptive mixture of the two.Mike Daisey. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. You may be wondering why I’m writing a book when today’s youngsters are increasingly reluctant to read and Google is allegedly adversely affecting the limited reading skills they possess. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. helpful or destructive. 6. My only defence is that. 5. scientific and irrational. The younger generations are prepared to read. Speaking personally. Still available from all good charity shops. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood.com (Fourth Estate. 9899. You glutton for punishment.sfxbrown. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. are available in his excellent anthology. I’m acutely conscious that. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. As with all symbolic representations. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. 7. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. bears are renowned spirit guides. pp. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. you! If you have any comments on the novel. computer games and videography. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. and body-parts from the earliest of times. we need to explore other platforms. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press.com Notes and References 1. However. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. London. compared to some mid-life crises. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. as a card-carrying academic. As a group. 2. This may well be so. Thank you for reading this far. and the ancestors of humanity. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. New York. or scavengers. 4. 1986). Yes. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. in what seems to be a search .
Sunday 25 April. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. London. Culture Magazine. John Naughton. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. 9. “Entering a whole new head space”. pp. 2010). 2010. 2010. Chicago. On the on-going copyright debate. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. Loftus.for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. The Observer. 21. London. The Sunday Times. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. 2008). 19 (1). 2009). Braun. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. check out Lawrence Lessig. pp. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. 10. Psychology and Marketing. p. Kathryn A. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. 2008). 6-7). 2005) and his more recent polemic. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. London. 2002. 1-23. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. 5 June. 8. . New York.
my dataset comprised 1. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. such as Hello Kitty. Aunt Jemima. the Hofmeister beer bear. the Burger King. This concept – an admittedly glib adaptation of the medieval belief that all living beings are arranged in accordance with their distance from god – is not a figment of my imagination. the HMV dog.R. not entirely. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. Johnny English. the Pets. the Gold Blend couple. assorted Scottish Widows and many. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. many more. the Borden cow. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research.151 individual entries. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. Crazy Eddy. moreover. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. Howard Brown. or the Noid. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Pillsbury Doughboy. Rather than provide potted biographies of the mascots mentioned herein – since they are easily tracked down online – let me use this appendix to make a couple of broader points. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. Ronald McDonald. Captain Birdseye. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. the Vodaphone pug. Fido Dido.com sock puppet. Anthropomorphically speaking. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. We know a lot about ourselves. J. the Bisto family. the Bon Ami . are made in passing. Bertie Bassett. perhaps inevitably.2 It follows.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. Nipper. the Michelin Man. Cheeka. Of this total. the Morton Salt Girl. Hartley. all told. After trawling through websites. Veritably Clean. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. Joe Isuzu. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. Elsie. Uncle Ben. the Mytag repair man. the Vlasic stork. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. a shades-wearing. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). Colonel Saunders. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. whether it be A Bathing Ape. Morris the Cat.1 Well. Most of these mentions. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Julius Pringles. the Coppertone Girl. this is as it should be because “We are people.
animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. vegetables and plants (e. Kangaroos sneakers. bring up the rear. ladybirds. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). Penguin books. icon and offer together as a seamless whole.3 A secular trend is evident too. the Dodge ram. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. Australia of kangaroos. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. the Aflac duck. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. albeit butterflies. Crocs shoes. More recently. Californian Raisins. the Calvin Klein polo pony. Puma sportswear. France is fond of roosters. as are personified fruits. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. Cap’n Crunch cereal. eagles and horses are popular in America.g. The match model is characterised by congruence. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. cuckoos cause trouble. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. India of elephants and so forth. thanks to Steven Spielberg. fecundity. owls impart wisdom. whales. Woodpecker cider. The first of these involves national animals. Mr Kipling cakes. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Aliens. Dove deodorant. Tom Tomato). As you might expect. etc). Insects. spiders. freedom. the Monster. However. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. the logo. Mr Clean. for instance. when the space race. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). Toilet Duck. fireflies and. unsurprisingly. turtles and lizards. no less). perhaps surprisingly. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. caterpillars. Mr Peanut. laptop computers and Transformers-type creatures have come to the fore and no doubt all sorts of blue-skinned avatars are waiting in the wings.chickens. needless to say. Broadly speaking. anthropomorphic mobile phones. Le Coq Sportif. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. This is very much in keeping . dolphins. Birds. mystify. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. seahorses. multiply. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. Shell petrol. Betty Crocker. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. Camel cigarettes. mix. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. the Lacoste crocodile. Cobra beer. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. Wild animals are rather less popular. Jaguar cars.com and Bell Canada beavers. furthermore. In some cases. South Africa of springboks. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. Chiquita Banana. whereby the brand name. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. In addition to the overall pattern. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. storks bring children.
which seems to get bigger with every passing year). where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. At one stage. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. Morris. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. the Trix rabbit. Larabee. don’t complain. fire-breathing dog with six legs. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. Chester. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. the Airwick ostrich. indeed. begat Chipper. but the mystify strategy is something else again. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. Congenital critter creep is one thing. believe me). Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). It’s not simply a missed opportunity.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. each with their own colourful personality. glowering. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. Willie. black. whose name you’ll never ever guess. That said. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. Beauregard. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. Geoffrey. the Lacoste crocodile. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. except that they work for free. rarely go off the rails and. the Toys R Us giraffe.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. similarly. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. the Hush Puppies basset hound. the Kool cigarettes penguin.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. animal mascots are not immortal. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. The fourth stage. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. the MGM lion. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. Nipper. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. Maturity is marked by multiplication. by contrast. the Cheetos cheetah. Leo. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. the belief that if one critter is good. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. Multiply. the Budweiser Clydesdales. the 9Lives spokescat. way back when. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. all things considered. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. is perhaps the . In effect. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. the HMV dog. Since 1994. though. basically speak on behalf of the brand. the penguin. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. The introductory phase usually involves a Darwinian struggle for survival against competing brand animals or non mascotbased marketing strategies (the Aflac duck was adopted with reluctance and.
Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. Childhood is a time when animism runs riot and if consumers are becoming increasingly child-like in their buying behaviour then the cult of kidulthood is a blessing in disguise for animal brand managers. age. stupid cows. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. wise owls. their personalities.most fascinating of all. it is noteworthy that the single most striking evocation of the recent banking crisis was Rolling Stone’s unforgettable description of Goldman Sachs as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. sexual orientation. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity.6 Be that as it may. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. social class. The brand character. religion. gets younger. In this regard. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. etc. promiscuous rabbits etc. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. True. perhaps the most important factor behind the fantastic future for brand characters in all their furry finny feathery finery is the fact that it is still permissible to stereotype animal species. which increases opportunities to view. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. animals remain fair game. nevertheless. like death. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). In general terms. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. fat cat bankers are western society’s permissible hate figures and Joe Camel’s capital punishment proves that laundering questionable behaviour through endearing spokesungulates is socially unacceptable. continue to be caricatured and vilified. etc. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. cheeky monkeys. uncertainty and rapid technological change. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. gender. more cherubic. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. if anything. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. so too today’s terrorist outrages. their “natures”. more childlike. the sleep of reason produces mascots. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. Le Penguin notwithstanding. the same is not true of animals. Their characters. sly foxes. Pace Goya. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules.7 Whatever else is . A daffy duck or lazy lion or irritating chipmunk or thieving magpie is perfectly acceptable in a TV commercial but a stupid Polak or idle Irishman or infuriating mother-in-law or lightfingered gypsy is almost unimaginable nowadays. more cuddly.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details.0 – cf.
far less hardy. 2001). 129. The sum effect is arrested development. griffins. pp. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. 1979. trans. 2009). Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The more things change in western capitalism. incidentally. If you want to suffer further. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. 1964. 2000).said. 30-36. phoenixes. Claude Lévi-Strauss. 4. “The great American bubble machine”.com. p. 7. London. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. www. about our great economic cataclysm. 2009. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. more submissive. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. Note. BTW. . Stewart Guthrie. C’est la vie. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. 3. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. 5. 2004). It thus seems that fifty years after the renowned anthropologist Claude LéviStrauss famously contended that “animals are good to think with” it’s evident that animals are equally good to brand with. Stephen J. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. 13 July. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. My database. Totemism. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. [original 1962]. Cambridge. p. Gould. check out Stephen Brown.rollingstone. p. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). Natural History. xi. in years to come. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. accessed 4 May 2010. Matt Taibbi.8 Notes and References 1. Anthropomorphically. however. London. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). 1936).This worldview. Pegasus and so on). Tony the Tiger’s only son. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. 1995). which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. Lovejoy. London. 8. at any rate. 89) explains. New York. many of which can fly (dragons. 2. 89). 88 (1). Oxford. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. Cambridge. p. the more things stay the same.
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