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