The Penguin’s Progress

A Mashup for Managers


Stephen Brown

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

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. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding . Tony. Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples.

the constellations in the heavens. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. Anthropomorphism. Chicago Bears. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. How he got in my pyjamas. 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. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. I don’t know. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. Andersen and Adams. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. however. Sydney Swans). one and all. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. A great mascot. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. dance steps . and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. We’re anthropomanes. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. 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”. The totem poles of native Americans. Apuleius. There’s one thing I do know for certain. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie.and duck-tails). humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. like Tony the Tiger.1 Twenty years hence. They are the embodiment of the brand. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. From the cave paintings of Neolithic 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”. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. presumably. pig. It is ancient and ineradicable. as are our haircuts (pony-. is a universal trait.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. via the “beast fables” of Aesop.

Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side.5 What’s more. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds.9 Business organisations. long tails. apes in the corner office.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. hearts. associated with childhood in particular. 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. which considers our earth to be a living. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. Ninja Turtles). Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. black swans. Fables. dead dogs. Getting it right means survival. SimAnimal.6 Even natural scientists. If anything. It helps us identify potential predators. animal spirits.(foxtrot. self- . wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. orbiting hairballs. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. lungs. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. tarantella). which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. Fred Basset). Needless to say. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. limbs and the like. storytelling squirrels and so forth. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. fat cats. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. For others. dancing elephants. hive minds. welfare. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. Far Side. its ubiquity is not in doubt. getting ducks in a row. hidden hands. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. furthermore. men on the moon. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. big hairy audacious goals. Angry Birds). find that this is much easier said than done. graphic novels (Maus. 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. for example). cheese moving mice. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. computer games (EyePet. bunny hop.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. cash cows. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. are routinely regarded as organisms. breathing. with brains. consciousness. because it is in our best interest to do so. cartoon strips (Peanuts. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. emotions. it is a developmental trait. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”.3 For some.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism.

Brer Rabbit. flourish and fight for the right to party. Guinness. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. much less White Fang. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. after a fashion. 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.regulating entity. The Way of the Rat.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. say. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. It’s a work. Squirrel Inc. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. is to educate as well as entertain. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. managers and would-be marketing managers. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. Black Beauty. Watership Down. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. forage. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. Its ultimate aim. both tearful and terrifying. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. is “alive inside”. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. much to the relief of consumers. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent. Meanwhile. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. flirt. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. Winnie-the-Pooh. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. As such. Wind in the Willows. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. But many of them lack pizzaz.10 Indeed. Who Moved My Cheese?. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. There are lots of books about brands and branding. 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. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition.11 Viewed in this context. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. Undergraduate students especially. However. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. of edutainment for marketers. moreover. Or.13 This is a book about brand mascots. insofar as it features a secondary world. much as I hate the neologism. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. to be more precise. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. . the legendary American adman. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora.

Less is Sore. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. however. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction.15 The Fifth P is a Q. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. persuaded. all of which are functionally equivalent. becoming the embodiment. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. The go-to brand. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. new product. though. The Customer is Always Right Wing. by and large. if one makes a move (new feature. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. is quintessence. of antipathy. cajoled. Managers feel the need to make changes. Worse. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. new whatever). They don’t need more of anything. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. To Thy Own Brand Be True. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. for fear of being left behind. prosumers. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. The best loved brands. The Next Big Thing Thing. the exemplification of that niche. Products and services do not sell themselves. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. The theories. then.As a storyteller. hive minds and what have you. it is matched forthwith. It is also true of principles. they are prone to the next big thing thing. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. Consumers. They have to be convinced. have been around for a very long time. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. like the fifth element. Hopefully. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig.14 I’m conscious. not to say a “take-away” or two. long before customers feel that way. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. shake things up and refresh the brand. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. new platform. new offer. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. facts and more facts. however. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. Persuasion is the key word here. Action-minded by inclination. Just for you. they extend the range. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. in the mass. better yet. though. in short. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. are inherently conservative (raving fans. They increase output. In a world of identikit products and services. they . All the way to Clone City. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. The fifth P. especially so). I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. of out-and-out obstinacy. the epitome. frankly. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines.

though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. “Money”. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. Thomas the Tank Engine). nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. “Crocodile” Dundee.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. as academics like me are inclined to do. 4. 31. But don’t take my word for it. Childishness. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. 2. 2010 Notes and References 1. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. the brand may benefit in the long term. 23 May. see Matt Williams. The Observer. nostalgia-prone world. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Christine. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. Oh yeah. Donald Duck). Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Thumper. p. for instance). Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. Reduced availability increases desire. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. 3. there’s one other issue. . However. Richard the Lionheart). 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. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. 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. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. as was the dismayed £ sign. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. free gifts. Strictly speaking. 2010. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. likewise. Campaign. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. is not to be sneezed at. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. Zoomorphism is the opposite. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. 2010. “reification”. targeting the child within is no bad thing. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. 4 June. p.make the products more readily available. Dumbo. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile.

Gareth Morgan. Lions. soporific and so forth. “Smarter than you think”. 8. 13. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. stories are on the up and up. 2010. This book. Incidentally. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. 7. BTW. 2006). 215). Oxford. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. 14. it’s not completely inaccurate either. 2007). pp. They are bland at best and boring at worst. 5. It’s full of animal errors. 9. 343-373. are second to none. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. The Observer. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. John Berger. 2008) and Tony Thorne. p. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. 1993). London. 6. by all accounts. See. Cambridge. 14. 15. p. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. “If you want to survive. Naturally. London. The companies acts. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. 1992). London. 2005). 1998. New York. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. the character may well go global in due course. don’t be ugly…be cute”. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. 17 January. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. 2010. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. Journal of Consumer Research. London. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. Kennedy. for example. Richard Conniff. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. 11. “Scientists are people too. the key statement is John S. Needless to say. 12. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. 2009). Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. London. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. insipid. 10. 2005). 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. Images of Organization. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. 24 (3). John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. 23 May. The Sunday Times. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. They fail to appreciate that conflict. updated edition (Sage. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. nevertheless. . makes no claim to zoological accuracy. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader.4. According to Morgan Trimble. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. 19.

where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. bottled water. etc. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. sugar and so on). salt. .). The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods.16.

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

Not only were they completely unnecessary. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. She needn’t have bothered. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. Fashion. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. Silo and Roy.” Exasperated. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. “Hmmm. one-piece costumes. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. “Seriously. The S&R logo. She had more important things on her mind. gloves. figure-hugging.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. you know. bending this way and that. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. Bella Adélie shook her head. for one. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. She twisted and turned. “It’s a Silo & Roy. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. “I’m not sure pink suits you. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. struggling to keep her face straight.” Paris pouted. Pounds too. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. a joint venture with Versace. The fad started innocently enough.” The tease worked. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors.” she said. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. beakaplasty. berets. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. hot to trot. was almost as well known as . But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. Paris. “Pelican pink is so this season. what do you think? Am I way cool.

a spoiled rich kid. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. An egomaniac. she twirled. “Ronald’s outdone himself again.” Bella mumbled. Bella. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. yet others complained. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. I’m lovin it. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. The sea was calm. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. Mmmmm. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. “With your genes. She adored McDonald’s. Or several. Consequently. as she so often did. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. “I’m sorry. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. iPods to dolphins. admiring her outfit. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. others contended. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. But Bella knew better. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. darling. Bella. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. some said. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. and share a McFlurry with the great man. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. in truth. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner.” Paris stuttered. For all her selfabsorption. “Mmmmm. the sky was blue. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds.Armani’s stylised eagle. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. she was a bit roomy at the rear.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. simpered. kicked up a heel. you should be more careful.” Paris warned.” She said it without thinking. which was tantamount to tropical. A sob stuck in her crop. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. the temperature hovered around freezing. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . whirled. the wind was light. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. Paris. crunchy crustaceans. smiled. It’s delish. You should try some of this.” Bella replied lightly.

asked. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. surely you know that.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. “Okay. Darling. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. I’ve got something for you. fast later.” Bella commanded. her uniqueness. Clearly. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. if she was related to a leopard seal. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. “Come here immediately. flipper on hip. where elephant seal pups frolicked. You’re coming with me to the food court. in fact. her gene pool. starve now. I won’t take no for an answer. Cerise was chichi.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. like hedge-hopping rainbows.” Paris exploded with laughter. bar none. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. Right now. Casting next week. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. “Get this down your gullet. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. posing provocatively. A gift? Tiffany. Paris. Penguin porn degrades our species.” Bella said.” “Oh goodie. admittedly. Paris. black and more black. “What do you reckon?” she called. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. Except that pink was now in. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest. followed by the International House of Fishcakes.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. 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. But Paris declined. Paris wiped her eyes. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. “No can do.” “What. Be honest. They’re making another Madagascar movie. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. much better than black. Gastric band. “Here. On the contrary. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. Bella. flicking open the Happy Meal container. They looked delicious. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. “Don’t be a silly billy. sniggering. She did. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. Brown was the new black. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. I trust. Okay. Bella.” .

She reached into her luxury wetsuit. She knew that the part was hers. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types.” “Whatever you say.” “Grrrr. Her face was a frozen mask. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. She turned to her companion on shore. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. Penguinapping is commonplace. if not before. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages. just in case. right?” “Le Tigre. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. as anyone would. apparently. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. wiggling her tail feathers with glee.” “Well. The role’s already in the bag. They’ve been performing since incubation. “Tell you what. “Grrrrrrrr. “Grrr. Bella mused. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. you know how it is in showbiz. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. Grrrrr. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines.” “No. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. Paris hugged her mottled companion.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. maybe?” “Um. Panic stricken. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. “It won’t take long. tossed her up into the air. oblivious to the threat. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could.“And the drastic gastric band. 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. never mind “this’ll do fine”.” Paris doth protest too much.” Bella knew very well. as was the polar predator’s wont. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. Bella. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped.” she said with an apologetic smirk. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna.” Bella shouted back. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere.” Filling up.” the soon-to-be superstar said. I’ll be fine. “I always carry one. hoping against hope that .

It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. A dismembered limb. Bloodstained. Tearful. her to-diefor Silo & Roy.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. indeed. Aghast. bitten and bloody. Sodden. Bella took a closer look. To die for. Ripped. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. There was no sign of life. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. she fished the outfit out. Bella wept. . her designer pride and joy.

nevertheless. more likely. overcome with grief. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. weeping all the while. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . Distraught. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. stumbled toward the shoreline. expectant. With a heavy heart. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. Oddly. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. species and stripe. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. A microphone screeched. Reported to the penguin police force. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. onto its snow-strewn top. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. belching. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. hushed. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. where she paused to catch her breath. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. the agglomeration was completely silent. Picking up speed as they descended. as everyone knows. In more ways than one. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. Gentoos. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. clusters of chinstraps. and emerged huffing and puffing. Stifling a sob. Blamed. bellowing elephant seals. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. bands of blackfoots. No parent. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. The sun was stronger. perhaps. she clambered up the ice steps.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. There were knots of kings. in the lee of the LG glacier. penguins of every imaginable breed. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. like stones across a millpond. the views were spectacular. BrandLand was truly beautiful. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. What else could she do? It was her duty. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them.

multitudes. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. As the long way round would have taken forever. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. Until the crowd closed up.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. Lookin’ good. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . Hesitantly. They couldn’t be trusted. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. she had no alternative. some bristled their feathers. Curiously. “Nice outfit.. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. husky or not. cheating layabouts.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. His crest. though. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. BrandLand. Her rate of progress improved immediately. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. the carefully clipped pelt. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. double-dealing. It was magnificent. nodding their approval. who were no-good. Not never. bitch. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. 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. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. Although she was well used to hostility. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. the sapphire-studded collar. Devils in disguise. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. A few snooty royals turned to attack. “This. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. blubbery macaroni. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. as the star took to the stage. S&R. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. Not now. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. lying. “is Dr Dogeatdog.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. 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. Her presence was not appreciated. bloated..

clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before.” Dogeatdog reported. The bubble of blarney. overstretched. ACME’s chief executive. Over. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. in other words. the worst in living memory. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. Out. the legendary Mr Kipling. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. Penguins have saturated the market. ACME. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. Out. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. and that’s saying something. bluster. “Six weeks ago. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. Out. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. they’d be okay. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. A 10% cull. ACME. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. Penguins are out of fashion. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. “ACME. Charlie the Tuna. ACME. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. Shouts of “ACME. however. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. ACME. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. Worse. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. The penguin brand is overexposed. blether. Whatever happened. Out. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. The kings kept their own council. oversold. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control.” Screeches of feedback. on account of the drastic economic recession. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. Out. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. Emperors exploded in anger. Out. Worse was to come from the canine. unperturbed by the distant disturbance.” The uproar was indescribable. Penguins have jumped the shark. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. ACME. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. has concluded that a cull is called for. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . to be precise.

“We are required to reduce our number by 10%. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. The multitude fell silent once more. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. he paused for effect. even more extreme measures may prove necessary.” Ever the showman. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. if the least high profile. They know what needs to be done. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. He announced that his own macaronis. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. No penguin pain. “Fellow penguins. chinstraps and gentoos. “the last few years have been good for us. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. “Brothers and sisters. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. The decision is yours. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. No. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. No.” The big screen went blank. Why would there be? . We’ve cornered the mascot market. his voice a low-throated rumble. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. as the order’s most overexposed species. It was a done deal.” Le Penguin croaked. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm.” 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. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. by far the most populous penguin species. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. Indeed. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. There were no dissenting voices.term. He reported that the emperors. We’ve got to face facts. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. Good day to you all. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. a blessing in disguise. the Toys ’R Us giraffe.” he began. his raddled face set in serious mien. We’ve got to get back to basics. However. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. no penguin gain.

pitch-black ice tunnel. Petrified. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. There was only one thing for it. however. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. their marvellously mottled appearance. anything. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. they’d taken pride in their otherness.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. with murder in mind. Bella jumped feet first into the void. Bella stared into the chasm. She had to warn them. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. Bella was falling behind. breathing heavily. Paris’s parents would have to wait. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. Her parents were dead meat. 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. On the contrary. There was no time to waste. The superslick surface. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. it came pretty close. she closed . The hostile crowd was already dispersing. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. their difference. it was a death trap. 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. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. was almost entirely frictionless. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. The rookery nook. She had to do something. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. Digging in her heels made no difference. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. rockhoppers.

probably. Some nests were still warm. Ffffffft. possibly. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. Excitedly. A petrel. They’d been taken away and taken out. Ffft. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. it wasn’t a wall. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. A crab. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. A large leopard seal loomed before her. backing it into a corner. Ffft. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. It stopped. she clambered over the rocky detritus. Fffft.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. licking his lips. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. though. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. you slimy son of a sheathbill. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. She didn’t know which way to turn. The wetsuit. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. deserted. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. A dirty rotten rat. was ripped to shreds. Our Flipper. in the community’s communal crèche. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. They’d been rounded up already. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. And failed. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. yet with a mounting sense of dread. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. skimming. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. She opened her eyes fractionally. disturbed the eerie silence. twitching. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind.” . Ffffft. She screeched and tried to stop. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. Then started again. Something was moving. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. Anguished. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. Bella cried out. “I’ve got you now. Fffft. most likely. panting with exhaustion. Then stopped. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. but a great divide in the path. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. close to her parents’ nest. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. It was completely devoid of life. Flippers fully extended. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. she advanced toward the creature. carooming. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. hunched behind a boulder. Luckily.

I am the face of a price comparison website. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. erect-eared. sharp-faced.000 Twitter followers and 3. Don’t you know who I am?” “No.” “Simples?” “Simples. my dear. 32. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year. Very. The Russian steppes are thataway. Very. trying her best to appear menacing. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. elbow up – then casually blew a cloud of noxious smoke in the face of his would-be assailant. of course. at your service. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. you disgusting wetback. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. I don’t know who you are. London’s over there somewhere. “Aleksandr Orlov. Towering head and shoulders above her.” the penguin snarled. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. “You. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. bless his cotton candy socks.6 million hits on my homepage. the proud possessor of 600. “Sleepy. you understand. Sleepy. “I assume you’re familiar with my work.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack.” Orlov said. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. Not in a good way. Taken aback.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. Sleepy.” Bella was at a loss. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. “How dare you address me like that.Astonishingly. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. “Modesty forbids. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. but I am big in Britain and Russia and.” he sighed. You are feeling sleepy. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past.” “Oh. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. My catchphrase is Simples.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. a radio talk-show compère.” he drawled. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere.” he drawled. With a so-what show of indifference. dragging deeply. all things considered.” Bella was baffled. I think you have. the slender-torsoed. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression. “I haven’t finished with you yet. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say.000 Facebook friends. We know a .

he dropped off the grid. um. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. “Well. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave.” With a glottal gabble.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. But I prefer not to mix with the. Advertising awards. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. “Flat Eric. Flat Eric’s been there.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. “since you put it like that.thing or two about hypnotism. He looked around. Nor did Orlov. meerkat. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. ripped and ragged. As the only mottled penguin in residence. “Sorry. right beside the isabelline refuge. The S&R wetsuit lay. avian classes. perhaps we could pool our resources. she was first in line for the chop. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea.” He made to go.” “Mmmmm. Enormous name recognition.” But Bella beat him to it. she blocked his path. “I don’t think so. We meerkats are social animals.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. “He was a sort of soft toy. as if taking in the cave for the first time. Not so Simples now. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. where she’d left it. He knows the score. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. However. not to say subliminal advertising. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. 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. a sock puppet.” Bella shook her head. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. They looked resolute. Hit singles. It’s a life-long learning. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. “Too late. Two species are better than one. much less dun-coloured rodents.” Orlov looked at Bella askance.” “I see. I’m looking for someone.” he said.” Bella started to step aside. . if you must know. Flippers on hips. “Simples. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity.” He winked. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME. They’re here. “Suit yourself. 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.

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

determined. searching for the ice. There was no way those monsters could follow. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. There’s still a bit of discrimination. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. blocking out the bright sunlight. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. Their bulk. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. There was no escape.and snow-filled shaft. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. scampering. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. She could hear them discussing their strategy. Every second was precious. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. tear.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. suspecting a trap. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. I can’t believe it’s not butter. Orlov seized the moment. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery. We didn’t think we needed it any more. Bella snuggled in behind him and. adélies are much more petite than emperors. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. stab. Indomitable.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks.” “Where to?” “The bolthole.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. scurrying. he was off. mercifully. clawing like crazy. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. don’t you know. but nothing like it used to be. She struggled to keep up. although the fit was tight. as he excavated ever-faster. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. “Let’s go. they said. And bickering amongst themselves. Bella shook her head. you flat-footed fool. “Well. They paused at the mouth of the cave. ever-upward. “Meerkats. who stopped again. uncompromising. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. The old enmities are behind us. . Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder.

Their feet sank in with a hiss. digging. It must be adhered to rigorously. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. dashing forward. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. he spluttered. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. They’re famous for it. The man’s a slave driver. The reshoots were ridiculous.” he observed. blocking her path. my dear. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. darting back.” With a heavy sigh. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. My routine is sacrosanct. apparently. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. Orlov scampered alongside. sometime in the middle of April. Simples. but ACME is not on my agenda.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. then it’s midnight through September. body doubles. even more gallantly. However. if you’ve had enough for one day. The thin crust gave way from time to time. They’re big girl’s blouses. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. They never let anyone forget it. though. Enjoy the twilight while you can. claymation models. They march for months on end. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. “The rookery’s thataway. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. frankly. you know. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . “dandies discard.” Agitated.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. “Impossible. dropping down on all fours. Gallantly. I’ll accompany you for a little while. “When danger calls. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. not a skua. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. digging. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. over the rippling bands of sastrugi.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. Orlov said nothing. They had a lot of reshoots too. Pity. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. Orlov just kept digging. “Forgive me. Stand-ins. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. allegedly. through the worst of the winter. The place was deserted.” Bella snorted. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. digging. Or earshot. He fell into step beside Bella. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. “Sundown?” she scoffed.” Chastened for the moment. You’ll have a lot to talk about. You have a lot in common. The snow squeaked as they walked. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. “Oh. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. not a penguin. not a shearwater in sight.

“Rrrrrrrrrrr. Bounding towards them at top speed. It works on everyone. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. still with snow under the nails. Do you believe me now. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. Bravely. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. “I told you I could do it.” Bella apologised. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. that’s what you are. sleepy. A black dot was coming towards them. A wild cat. perhaps. Smirking. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. “Yes. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. Let’s wake him.” “My paws were cold. they ploughed on.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. “I like a bird with spirit. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake.” Bella said. Orlov stopped suddenly. You mocked the master. I’m out of here. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. I think you’re my kind of penguin. “The bear is completely under my power. pointing into the distance. snoring loudly. at your service.” Orlov inveigled. “What’s that?” he said. apart from a slight headache. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. the meerkat refused to budge. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents.” Louis meowed throatily. Let me know how you get on. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. so far from home. It was feline. that is. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy.” She made to move on. Astounded. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. fast asleep. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. “Louis the Lynx. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. Poleaxed. Chins tucked in. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. Minxes and lynxes . Smaller than a snow leopard. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. “It was because it didn’t work. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. bigger than a mangy moggy. “Explain yourself. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void.” he purred. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. But you didn’t believe me. On me. He rose up on his hind legs.” “The simples minded. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. preventing further progress. You’re a minx.

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.”

Chapter Five

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

anyhow?” “Simples. A sexy smelly shampoo. I can see the campaign now. advertising. my dear boy. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. Anything before B he was unbeatable. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. “Anthropomorphism.” “Hmmmm. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. putting poor critters down. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. They make movies about mice that speak. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. Anything after. “Correct. a brand in a highly competitive market. desire. Even his chortle was charming. Louis laughed out loud. But she wasn’t quick enough.” Louis mused. sensing a stay of Axecution. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. hope. he was a busted flush. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. Orlov lit up.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. Lhasa Apsos and the like. Lurchers. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. You test the things on animals. wildlife programmes in particular. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe.” “Hey. “don’t knock it. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. so selling to them is the next natural step. “How come you know so much about marketing. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. moreover. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. red.” Orlov smiled. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. Ask yourself. When you put it like that. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity.” Orlov boasted. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. adélies. not that there’s much else to admire. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. the bigger and nastier the better. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. don’t you.territories. since Axe carries connotations of execution. . We’re built on a bubble of belief.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys.” Louis chuckled. moreover. I read Wikipedia incessantly. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. extermination. lions that sing show tunes. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. as Neolithic cave art attests. with a grin. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. Louis asked.” Bella quipped. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. crows that crack jokes. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. Plus. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand.

whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. like a karaoke Krakatoa. Or a meow meow overdose.” The group descended into grumpy silence. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right.” Orlov said testily. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. the moraine started moving. The earth quaked. the Romanovs. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. scratching occasionally. Their shelter. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. A joint venture. Has been for years and years. Penguins pong pretty bad. understandably.” he said. He thinks I’m the fox. You tried to run off. Louis. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations.” “You suggested no such thing. the hillock erupted.What do they put into their toiletries. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. What wild accusations. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. Bella felt sleepy. she looked around. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. Eyes drooping. 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. Or Freudian psychosis. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. Mmmmm. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. I wanted to rouse it. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. Feathers? . though. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. “it was all a mistake. His eyesight is not what it was. she wondered. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. He’s not best pleased. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. cruel culling. I couldn’t shake him off. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. Bella and Louis said nothing. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. well. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. “Actually. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. “Yes. perhaps.” Orlov observed dryly. With an almighty roar. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about. Bella wondered. She tried to resist.” Louis was at a loss.

if it’s not out of your way. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie.” the creature conceded. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. “How far can you take us. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. “SoHo.” Gallic to its wingtips. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. Lord of ze skies. it isn’t. Encouraged. none of which are tested on ze animals.” “Zat I am. Zis . Having watched the negotiations in silence. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days.” the Roc crowed. with a smirk. s’il vous plait. “But this is BrandLand. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. with poststructuralist precision. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. “Zis is not BrandLand. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics. isn’t it?” he said. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories.” “No.” Louis said. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. face creams. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other. “Zat I can. Flipper.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. Hans Christian. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. uh. He knew his Ali Baba too and. Ally of Aladdin. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. they might even end up where they wanted to be. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. Everyone knows zat. “Three wishes. Unscented.” Bella added. no less. “We have three wishes. Bella chanced her arm. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner.” Orlov insisted.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. “Zat is so.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. as well as Aesop. “I am Roc. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD. “Well. 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. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie.” Bristling. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. as for Andersen. Companion to Marco Polo.” “So. while hopping from foot to foot. flapped them vigorously. rather. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. if not quite charm the birds from the trees.” “Zat is impossible. Not only were they getting somewhere.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose.

Zis. a contiguous territory.” he a mere dominion.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. as yet untouched by civilisation. “is Adarctica. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand.” Orlov commanded. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding. “We’ll make our own way from there.” “D’Accord.” .

” “According to ancient myth and legend. lay spread-eagled beneath them. Orlov. sat calmly. into the eye of the snowstorm. BrandLand. “If it offers us a choice of seating. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. heading north. with a disbelieving look. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. The meerkat glared at him. Far from being dropped from a very great height. but surpassed them by a considerable margin.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. don’t travel claw class. Within a few minutes. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. Many hours later. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. then invited the threesome to mount. the trio was taken by the scenic route. it flapped once or twice. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. A driving tail wind. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. in all its magnificence. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. . the mighty Roc rose to its full height. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. Clinging on for grim life. snow-capped mountain ranges. taking in the scene. and advertisers don’t either.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. With a low rumble of discontent. inviting. he knew there was nothing to fear. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face.” “Yeah. as her mother often observed. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. Beckoning. rising thermals. eventually. then took off vertically. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. Wings fully extended. Back-beating furiously. by contrast. aerobatics. punctuated by clearly-defined territories.” Louis said. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. The storm-tossed. the bird-borne party was above the storm. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. They dismounted shakily. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. Isabellines can’t be choosers. lake-dappled lowland. never mind jumbo jets. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. captivating. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. as its tagline proclaimed. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. And then some. humming an old Russian ballad to himself.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. Having read up on aeronautics. And we’re not talking Dumbos. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage.

” the Roc said disdainfully. We’ve two more to play with. wondering which territory to try first. Our task is to get to Madhattan. We’ve only had one wish. “A word of advice. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. the local authority. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. surely. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. The threesome looked up expectantly. reportedly.” Orlov. USA. the stomping ground of Snap. then took to the air. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak.” With that.” Conciliatory though it was. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. and make Mr Kipling see sense. penguin.” it said. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. PDQ. veri careful.” “This isn’t a theme park. disconcertingly. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned.” Louis enthused. Crackle. The Roc refused to elaborate.” the big bird boomed. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. My contract is complete. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. 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. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. We might learn much from big biomass brands. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. swirling. . took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. the Lacoste crocodile. In the far distance. pronto. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. “Steer clear of ze jungle.” “Can’t you count. Pop and similar elfish creatures. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district. find ACME ASAP. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. directly ahead. Be veri. we might learn much along the way. “Am I free to go.An acknowledged expert in domain names. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. One wish per passenger.” Bella snapped. “And we’re not on vacation. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance.

“I may be mistaken. A blissful. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. birch-fringed. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. steaming waterfalls. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. arrogance and absence of brand sense. Bella left them to it. Jingles rather. Louis scampered after her. she was too astounded to rest. cedar. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. you twat.” the meerkat said. Especially for a penguin. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna.” Bella muttered. . “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. But when she crested the rise. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. She badly needed a breather. flakiest chocolate”. interspersed with red-berried rowans.” “Cardboard cut-outs. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. like an Alpine Shangri-la. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Bella stumbled on several occasions. Each accused the other of ignorance. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. Bella recognised some of the tunes. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. stream-silvered dell lay below her. larch and juniper. Orlov. Perplexed.” A row erupted. The air was noticeably warmer here. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. joined the others on their high country hike. “A Mars a day”. Dangerous though it was. though. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland.“The nerve of it. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. a frisky Ferrari broke free.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. making a vast grassy corral. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. after being frozen in flight. “Only the crumbliest. plaidshirted. Every so often. And that’s her smiling flock. tussock-strewn. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. That’s what Paris once told me. the My Little Pony palominos. “Hands that do dishes”. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more.

he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. The legend introduced his pardner. with only cows and cowpokes for company. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. the bracing air. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke.She signalled for the others to join her. ma’am. Generously. The bad folks don’t call me at all. Big Sky. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. The advertising icon was bemused. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. There was no need to explain. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. the wide. was impressed. but paid city slickers no heed. Agog. as were her awe-struck associates. not when there’s a lariat to hand. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. they’re not axe-murderers. It bespoke Big Country. where men are men. sonorous and compelling. with an anxious expression.” The older cowboy. I presume. Bella was buying. son. He had heard of ACME. of course. no siree. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. Big Satisfaction. “Mr Marlboro. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. Much as the trio loved the mountains.” “Chance’d be a fine thing.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. “At your service. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. Whatever he was selling.” . “Village people?” Louis echoed. Big Emphysema. wide west. Apart from an occasional wheeze. The good folks around here call me Duke. Even Orlov. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. “Don’t worry. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. let alone love. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. tilted back his hat and grinned. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. Big Flavour. Big Brand Equity. an urban cess pit was their priority. Duke’s voice was deep. where the village people would point them in the right direction. Bella opted for a formal greeting. Welcome to God’s own country. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and.

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

“that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. As things stood. traffic cops. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. he’d join in the chorus.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. never will. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. as did the manicured fields. the cowboy archetype was adopted. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. “Though if anyone asks. on account of the filter tip. might be more than even he could handle.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. of all things. But the tat was an accident. As the party progressed down dale. After a fraught brainstorming session. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties.” Orlov stage whispered. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . If they started up “Macho Man”. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely.” In ordinary circumstances. “Never had. 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. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. It was originally targeted at female smokers. plus several infuriating false starts. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. Marlboro Country was invented and. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. Louis might have agreed with the rodent. “Yes. The rest is history.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. And as for “In the Navy”. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. of all things. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. A camp camp containing red Indians. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. round rivulet and through thicket. the Bon Ami chicken. Modest to a fault.

The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. Hamlet half a mile. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. redundantly. If there was one thing the meerkat hated.the Anchor butter cows. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. it said. watering cans. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. mounting up. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. the Bisto gravy family. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. to Louis’s annoyance. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. wide and handsome cognates. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. saloon bars. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes.. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. garden path. “What a guy. He had a peri-peri in every port. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. arhar. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. 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. garden hoses. wished them well in their quest for ACME. A pretty parish church. Ar-har. Smelt of chewing tobacco.” Bella said wryly. edge trimmers. overhanging eves. pruning shears. However. with the Kid by his side. abandoning lawnmowers. which looked the worse for wear. as the company advanced into Hamlet. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. the Bull Durham bull. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. Coors Country and their high. Swan matches and . Then. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries.. a time-worn market cross. it added. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads.” Louis observed. the everenergetic Red Bull.” Bella sighed. “Hmmph. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. He glared at his feline acquaintance. “Wonder what’s eating them. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. where Aflac ducks.

It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. granite inglenook. however. Or best bitter. Penguins and Tetley go way back.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. The usual array of barroom grotesques.” “Aye. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. if there’s naught else on tap. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. Or gassy lager. a peppery little man with a self-important air. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. one with a sharp carving knife. The leader. “And you. my good fellow. Archie. A line of local yokels. lass. They waited for a few minutes.” she concluded triumphantly. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. a firkin of gassy French lager. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character.” Bella said. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. stepped forward.” The tea folk tittered. polished horse brasses. lad. I’d recognise you anywhere. Undaunted. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. slippers! – stood between them and the door. simple Sydney smiled shyly. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. they followed him into the homely hostelry. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. mine host. that were a long time ago. “We prefer to work with Clubs. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. “We’ve b-b-been…” . “You’re Gordon. Still nothing. wearing blue overalls.” Bashful as ever. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. the consummate cuppa-maker. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers.” she continued.” the curmudgeon grunted. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. The place was deserted. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. was unsettlingly absent. a hogshead of mead. Clarence. or whatever it is they do down there.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight.” she went on. “are Sydney. “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. old chap. “And you must be Maurice. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. All were empty. as sheepish grins started to appear. Nothing. brass-banded pumps. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. “You must be Gaffer. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. quacked and chirruped incontinently. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. You look fantastic.

he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. “Tbirds were P.” Gaffer spat. Bushells. The tea folk advanced. “We’ve been on holiday. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely. But. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. the T-birds. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. P. reminding them who’s boss. Lipton. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right. Could put a word in for them. Tips is a Unilever brand. I suspect. along with Brooke Bond. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain.” “That’s torn it. as did Gordon with his andiron. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. Because P.G. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. then glared at his gang. lad – but tha triangular bag was P.G. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders.” . “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend.” Bella gulped audibly.G. “Assam. We liked the T-birds. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. Lyons. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. He met the T-birds once.G.But he was cut off by Gaffer. Tips people. brandishing their blunt instruments. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder.G. A lot.” Louis groaned. Sydney shuffled his feet. “Tetley. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose.” “Tannin poisoning. Tips. Assholes. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. yes. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. ominously.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. Psychosis is not uncommon.” Orlov whispered. lass. Lever lover? Menacingly. brand animals like us.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit.” he growled.

sycamore. and arsehole begins with A. It tasted delicious too. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. deciduous trees. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating. she decided it would do for the night. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. Defeated. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. proper trees like hornbeam. beech.” “No. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. “Look. Far from the madding firs.” . unobtrusively. A stroke of genius. ferret. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. walnut.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing.” Bella had said. There’s nothing to choose between them. Coffee culture’s king. They’ve reverted to commodities. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. you two. “It was nothing. Tips. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. unawares. “It was brilliant. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. The glory days of P. “An old trick.” Bella smiled modestly. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. you can bicker without me. After looking around and sniffing the air. a copycat called Tim Tam. Tea’s time is up. oak.” Bella said.” “Yes. elm. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot.” Louis finally said. no.” Louis didn’t mince his words. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence.” Orlov interrupted. They’d have to stop soon. I’m amazed they fell for it. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. poplar.G. “The reason you didn’t know about it. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. Tea brands are identical nowadays. “Now push off the pair of you.” Orlov snarled. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. these were big trees. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. Night was falling. insidiously.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking. lime. heavy trees. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. The air was chilly.G. like most FMCGs. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. fighting on price.

Crackle and Pop. A singularly sultry rabbit. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. the Glenfiddich stag. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. the Unibank unicorn. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. linnets and the like. Louis was in his element. the Nesquik bunny. Smiling. exhausted. pipits. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. she was struck by the absence of bird song. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. only to disappear when anyone came too close. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. “Look. out and around the trees. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. The next day saw an early start. she offered a square to Louis.” “I’m just glad they let us go.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. most likely. when something caught her eye.” Orlov added. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. “there’s Snap.” Louis laughed. scrutinising the strangers. she surmised. lay languidly beneath it. Swiftly followed by another. the Trix rabbit. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. for once. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. before evaporating into the undergrowth. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. the Kirin dragon. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand.Chastened. Scania’s and Saab’s. Before long. but it was pleasant all the same. A figure was flitting through the trees. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. with an irresistible . even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. rotten logs. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. They made good progress through the forest. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. And another. “Actually. the Schnuffel rabbit. her parents. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. a fire was crackling in the glade and. On picking herself up for the fifth time. Not this one. looked over and waved affably.” Orlov said with atypical glee. Watching the frolicking creatures.” With a sigh of contentment. only to find herself drifting off. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. In a most unladylike manner. Vauxhall’s. Immediately adjacent to the path. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. flitting in. Keebler’s elves also showed up. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. wearing a skintight yellow dress. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. the Hartford elk.

then a steady stream. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate.” Orlov hissed. polecat. Daddy’s coming baby. Get out of my way. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating.” Bella butted in. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. they roused Louis who woke . tongue hanging out. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. all ponderous. which was still rustling.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. the oldest trick in the book. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. “Quick. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. all growling. sotto voce. A for Argonauts. “they’re solitary creatures too. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. and not a little need for nourishment. However. no. she’s cursed. peered around myopically. I’m doing him a favour.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. This doesn’t look good. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. Fancy a bite.” she smouldered. “My.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. mainly nocturnal. “Let me guess. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. I can see that. then a third. clicked his foreclaws. It’s a trick. A big brown bear lumbered past. It paused for a second. then a fourth. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush.” The lynx laughed in his face. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. Rrrrrrrrrrr. Louis. Dark Temptation. they don’t actually hibernate. “Something smells good around here. famously omnivorous creatures.” In normal circumstances. “Don’t fall for it. “What’s up?” Orlov asked.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. Quick. trying not to breathe. Bravely. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. Together. as if to reset her audio receptors. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. all hulking. She’s Circe. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. my. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. They hunched together biting their tongues. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. sensing Bella’s unease.” “Yes. actually. However. then shuffled on.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. Quick. Bella. “Arctophily. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. Well. And then some. “No. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. Rrrrrrrr. Bella bided her time. sniffed the air. Must hide. An unearthly hush descended.” she said. A second bear followed. since you ask. “Aeaea. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. Bella followed suit.

since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. “has left the building. a snivelling wimp at heart. Labatt’s blue bear. Larynges lubricated. The fat bastard. Paddington was a sitting duck. “The bear. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”.” Orlov murmured. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. the bears burst into song. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. They didn’t get very far. . The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. Only Gulliver. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. Bundaberg rum bear. the easyJet bear. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade.” Pooh simpered. Smokey. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. Gulliver. SuperTed was also in attendance. In fact. Carried back to the ice floe. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. the biggest jambearee. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. peeping out a knothole. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. “Told you so. “Let’s get out of here. small bears. At least they seemed civilised about it. the iconic US Forest Service bear.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Even Pudsey. Bearzookas. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. cans included. Paddington bear. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. as were Pudsey bear. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. whose charitable work is second to none. Pipes were smoked. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. “We should be able to get away then. He died with his Wellington boots on. SuperTed. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. Biffo the bear. Yogi bear. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. The massacre was relentless. brown bears. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. firing indiscriminately. fierce bears. It was worse than bear baiting. friendly bears. Hamm’s beer bear. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. Appallingly. black bears. “Me and My Teddy Bear”.” Hiding in the wounded tree. before a head shot finished him off. Charmin paper towels bear. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. wasn’t spared by the assassins. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. “They’ll be asleep before long. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. George. meanwhile. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. The dell. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. the Hofmeister bear. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. was filling up with bears. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. begged on his knees for mercy. Boo Boo bear. Big bears. inevitably.” his said. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. BearPG rifles. the easyJet bear.with a blissful smile on his face. Cresta lemonade bear.” hers replied.

In so doing.showed any sense of self-preservation. he sealed the fate of his comrades. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell. A second troop of baby-faced. The dirty deed was done. Supported by Charmin and Cresta. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees. . There was no sign of Winnie. They raised their weapons as one.

Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse.” Orlov said calmly. Working together. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. paw-prints. Led by Tatty Teddy. Me-to-You they’re called. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. But drew a blank. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops.” Louis wept. They pushed on slowly. jolted out of his rambling account. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy.” Louis answered dully. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. listening intently for any indication of military activity. the baby-faced ones. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. the trio forged ahead. Hallmark’s main rival. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. Suddenly. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. failing to focus on the salient facts. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. On returning to the path several hours later. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. “There’s nothing we can do here. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. stealthily. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. “Greeting cards. Frantically. tears streaming down his ashen face.” Orlov ordered. steadily. such was the bloodletting.” “Okay. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. . frozen in its death throes. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. you say?” “Yes. Night was falling. Bloodstains. “Greeting cards. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. A Lynx card range made sense. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Heavy shadows fell across the path. you see. man” before breathing his last. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. the better. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. “I know who did this.” Bella said. most with decades of distinguished service. if only to work out what they were up against. We talked joint ventures with them all. That’s the frightening thing.” Louis groaned. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. They kept going. Great mark-ups. Cautiously. sensible as ever. Very profitable business.” They knew she was right. A chill was in the air.” “Explain.

above the sodden forest floor. The first brand character dates from 1877. They’re called Furries. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. “Potentially big market for personal care products. cold and cutting.” Louis said. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand.” Louis said. they opted for the latter. slipping and sliding and slithering. They’re breakfast cereal characters. We have nothing to worry about. Pet Society.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. with witching hour approaching. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. They searched for shelter. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. deodorant. Never the best of hikers. teeth chattering. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. often in the prime of life. Bella was exhausted before long. They’re nothing to be afraid of. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. High on a crag. never mind feline chat-up lines. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. I don’t like the look of them. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. Eyepet.” Bella was incredulous. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. familiars. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. which stopped them in their tracks. At night. sat a glowering gothic castle. Second Life players. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. according to recent news reports. “Think about it. “I know what they are. “I think I know what this place is. The path soon turned into a slough. It’s simples.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. They’re avatars. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. Surely some of them are still with us. no. Thousands of critters have been created since. if anything – just that fetches. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. they made reasonable progress.” “Looks pretty scary to me. “That’s no phantasm. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends.” he said. Invizimals. Forced to choose between a wet night in the woods – where they’d be assailed by werebrands and blood-sucking Bacardi bats – and a crenellated fortress that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton movie. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. They struggled along.” . Country Story. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. But shelter found them. Orlov laughed. full and ominous.” Orlov answered with equanimity.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. Most have been axed ruthlessly.” Louis said. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. bath salts and what have you. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. Until the rain arrived.

The latter included Dumbo. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. Bizarrely. The travellers looked at each other. “Tell them about the honey bunny. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. He looked enormously pleased with himself. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. however. nor were Piglet. lined with oil paintings. His cavernous smile. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey.” Louis ventured. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour.” the creature rasped. lances. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. We didn’t see anything. though. as the drawbridge fell. She had second thoughts. much less amused. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. Be careful what you say. It’s Mummy. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. spread out on a table before him. head tilted back. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. 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. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. After licking his lips with relish. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes.” it shrieked. mead and beeswax markets.Orlov was not convinced. But not the once and future Honey Monster. always on the creepy side of welcoming. Bagheera. Tigger. By then it was too late to retreat. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. Bella was too tired to care. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. shields.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. swords and stuffed animal heads. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. was positively cadaverous. Mr Lynx. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. “Mummy. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. “I’m waiting. “Mummy. Mummy”. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. the portcullis rose. wondering what he was waiting for. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. .

we’re history. Doom was unaccountably delayed. “Tell them about the honey. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. “Or he’ll overhear us.” Orlov said.Shaken to the core. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. hence the bee laboratories. As if by magic. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. “All together now. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. He doesn’t know what we know. he showed the threesome around his stately home. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest. mummy!” they shouted in unison.” Bella was not amused. As every brand manager knows.” “We’re doomed. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon.” She looked at Orlov coldly. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. so too slogans calm the savage brand. “It’s simples. after breakfast.” “Keep your voices down. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. So it proved on this occasion.” Louis chipped in. psychological or otherwise. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits.” Orlov hissed.” “Lucky for us. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. Just as music calms the savage breast. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments.” she murmured. it was the least he could do. we’ll never get to ACME. pausing to point out the bee laboratory. “There’s no honey in Penguins. Walls have ears. Apparently. Otherwise. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. Let’s keep it that way. as the reality of their situation hit home. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. like himself. The next morning. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly.” Bella gloomed. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions.

” Orlov observed.Character Mediation Enterprise. “I thought honey was a natural laxative. “Not that kind of pooh. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting.” the Honey Monster said. innocently. . without smiling.

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

It was replaced by frantic barking. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. was pretty impressive. where it charged between the trees. saplings. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. A perfect day was in prospect. What there was.” Legend the unicorn announced. fences. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. offering little by way of illumination. circling steeply upwards. rivulets. There was no sign of Cerberus. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. stood before them wagging its tail. Bella. Peanuts. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. Luckily. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. golden. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. glorious. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. gratifying. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. giving way to the rich arable farmland . though. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. strapped them in securely and. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. the brand band exchanged wary glances. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. long. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. railings.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. A gigantic silver Greyhound. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. tree stumps. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. sleek and in perfect physical condition. while straining on its leash. dodging. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. The growling stopped. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. “Don’t be afraid. They should buy us some time. air-conditioned cabin. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest.” Orlov reassured his companions. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. leaping. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. Increasingly alarmed. All of a sudden. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. bounding over fallen logs. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. raising its paws and barking excitedly.

amongst many others. Mastodon. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. Eventually. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. Followed by Flat Eric.” Orlov added. An open air charity concert. “Must be a homing greyhound. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. Then we can foxtrot. better yet. infuriated by his insensitivity. Glinting on the horizon. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. Seal. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. Fleet Foxes.” Bella gasped. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. Sheryl Crow. “ACME is top of our agenda. pleasure later. Pet Shop Boys. . “Business first. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. Noah and the Whale. Orlov snorted. Market leader in Britain he may have been. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. the new Eagles. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. Whitesnake. Snoop Dogg. pointing at the billboard. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. before dashing off again in the direction it came. bunny hop. Wolfmother. the Natural History Museum. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned.” Bella noted. 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. Central Park Zoo. but solid ground threw the adélie completely.” Squelched. Wild Beasts. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. Danger Mouse. Seven minutes later. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. rubbing salt into the wound. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. Grizzly Bear. Doves. “I thought they’d broken up. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Literally. if not quite the bees’ knees. Before long. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County.” “Maybe we should check it out.” Louis said casually. The line up included Gorillaz. Louis sulked. Scorpions. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. FAO Schwarz. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. their mode of conveyance was. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. As ever. Bat for Lashes.

though.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. while stuffing their faces with fast food. “But surely. you never got as far as B. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. in as cutting a way as he could manage. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. was nowhere to be seen. That’s what I think. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. But survivors all the same. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past.” . Aleksandr. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. Surely everyone knows that. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. perhaps. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. panhandlers. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. The human world is a horrible place. A chill wind whistled in from the east. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble.” “Why are there no humans. 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. animal brands especially. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. druggies. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. many of which strobed intermittently. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. caught in the inter-building eddies. If we go. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. Forty-second Street was equally empty. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. as if a performance was about to begin. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. Marketing gives it meaning.” he said. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. as they advanced towards Timex Square. buskers. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. they go. I’m sorry. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. Horribly disfigured. just like you said. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. devoid of hope and authenticity. hookers. squalid. indicated that the place was operational. shoving. security guards. “I think I know what’s happening here.” Bella said. Squeeze This. yelling at one another. dirty. yakking. “The real world is breaking through. Mutant maybe. Oh.

an irresistible urge to spend.” Louis said. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. the Dulux sheepdog. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. “Well. spend. stunned by the update. “Well. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail.” Orlov took off. it added. “Holy Doughboy. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. Luckily. Then another. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. unwelcoming place. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. Another followed. Led by Cheeka. off. . whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey. 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. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated.” “Gotcha. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat.” Orlov exclaimed. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. 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. Timex Square was an empty. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. Monkey from Sky TV. horse-mounted traffic cops. spend. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. then get the Dell out of here. off. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. it went on. it critter. “Bloody Hellman’s. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron. lynx and meerkat in their midst.” Bella groaned. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan.” Louis gasped. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell.

Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. flapping idly in the breeze. while they were in mortal danger. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden.” he said curtly. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. look round again manner. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. Having stared the meerkat out. stand up. Patrolling down 42nd Street. Louis turned to Bella. start.” Infuriated. They stood snout to snout. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. Even in Madhattan. But Louis cut him off. look left. “Wait for us. breathing heavily. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. “For your information. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. Scampering ahead in his stop. Quick. “No signal. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. no doubt. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. Smirking. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight.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. “What’s the address? Quick.” Louis snapped. getting more infuriated by the second. eyes locked. I thought you’d been here before” strop. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. The fashion week tents were still standing. followed by “Louis. look right. “Calm down. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. The meerkat glared at them both. We don’t have much time. drop down. Bella looked at Louis. ready for fisticuffs. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. Growling. Louis looked down at him.” . The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. 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. “Let me handle this. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. Orlov backed down. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt.” Orlov was fit to be tied. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella.” Impatient as always. It was a brand free zone. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. ferret.

“World Wide Webster. did you?” Bella shouted. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. officiating bodies like ACME. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. believe me. “Let him go. Critters he called them.” The meerkat was off like a shot.” Bella had no time for legends. The building was just a couple of blocks away. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. “It’s number 285. will you. Once production goes. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. down-sizing. He’s barking up the wrong office block. He was a Panther man himself. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. Rrrrrrrrr. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. Monkey. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored.” Bella moaned. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . Something or someone was watching them. “Look. creativity evaporates. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. “I don’t believe it. publicity.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation.” “Read that in Wikipedia. research. As included. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. “Just get Google. Racoon. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. Camel. Louis held her back. originality disappears. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. Panther. not to say incredulity. design.” Louis sighed. the brains behind the Smash Martians. “designed to justify cost cutting. innovation follows. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. She was sure of it. The stress of the quest. feeling edgier by the second. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her.” “What?” Bella retorted. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. “It doesn’t say. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. The Young and Rubicund building. in a downtown direction. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. Nothing.” The connection took forever.” He switched off his iPaw. It was her imagination. He’d clicked through from Google Street View.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. 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. Bella made to follow. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. Adidas.

The wreckage all around. Exactly. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo.” Louis let her vent. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. subtlety. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. He had a the journey. Fearing another tantrum. Startled. isabellines especially. National Lottery’s disembodied hand.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak.” Louis yawned. all disconcertingly empty. “We know. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. brand mascots. Aleksandr. They passed a Starbucks. he looked around. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. A conspiracy theory. a strop and sulk situation.” “Oh. The locked ACME offices. arm in arm. the Russian emerged from the elevator. Yes. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. Chuckling. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. reason-why. The curt note on the door. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. jingles. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. It too was devoid of life. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. mouth agape. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. hot. The big city was distorting his thinking.” Louis said laconically. though that may have been the art directors’ department. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks.” Far from being crestfallen. no winners or losers. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. There was no brand war. Hard sellers hate whimsy. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. “Corleone the copywriter. “Yes. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. The whole place was completely empty. They especially hate cute critters. their Old Glories unfurled. Bella refused to take the bet. as did his equally dumbfounded . only with account managers and art directors. advertising characters. extremely agitated. a bit like The Sopranos. bothered. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. With a heave. Although they look laid back. let alone embarrassed. The vacated Y&R floors. stiff and straining in the breeze. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. A couple of minutes later. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. Nodding enthusiastically. Orlov missed the sarcasm. they strolled down to 285. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs.

An earsplitting alarm went off. Then a third. He pushed again. thump. Thump. Without pausing to dust themselves down. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. There was no time to lose. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. The alarm alerted the undead. Nada. Frantic. out. thump. Nothing.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. Thump. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. the trio dashed up East 40th Street.” Bella leapt out of the banquette.companions. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. then charged at the barrier together. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. the latter sprinting on all fours. the former sliding on the marble. Then a fourth. The door burst open. It suddenly shattered. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. Its catatonic associates followed suit. thump. It was locked. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. 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. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. jumping to his feet. They spilled into the street. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. like a fire tender on emergency call. thump. thump. Caught betwixt and between. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. the three of them backed up several paces.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. however. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices.” Bella urged. round. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. “Lucky I checked out the building. Almost. Arms outstretched. thump. They picked themselves up. then another. and pushed on the side door. . then went berserk trying to batter its way in. “Quick. Eyes glassy and unseeing. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds.” he added. A crack appeared in the pane. the zombie was momentarily confused. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. Bella and Louis did likewise. “lock the revolving door. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie.” Louis yelled. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. Louis lost the head. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. then another. Glancing round as he ran.

“We’re trapped. No surrender.” Orlov said to himself. Bella. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. no. with an unrepeatable oath. “I think there’s a food court in that place. With no realistic alternative. where they paused to catch their collective breath. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. as he scampered after his brothers in brand.” Bella said. This way. 40th . “No. They’re softies. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. They’re wusses. This way. in the direction of Brand Central Station. “Let’s stand and fight.” He galloped up Park Avenue. They’re milkshakes. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper.But the quarry was too quick for them.

scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth.” Orlov empathised. 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. by way of explanation. which ordinarily copes with 150. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble.” he conceded.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. “Never meet your heroes. But none of them are McDonald’s. looking anxiously behind them.” Orlov said. winking at the other half of his double act. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls.” “Yes. “I think we’ve lost them.” Orlov said. those McTofus are really something. the lynx tried to sympathise. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. “Stitch. the brand mascot’s brand mascot.” Wiping her eyes. “I’m starving after all that exercise.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. “Yes. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. right Louis?” “Right. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days.000 passengers per day. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains.” The meerkat cracked up.” he commiserated. No bother. He won’t be there anyway. face contorted in agony.” Bella panted. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. gasping for breath.” Suppressing a smile. “Lynxes excepted. holding her side. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. grinning. Giggling. Sniggering to start. As Bella. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza.” she added. But my sprinting’s not so good. “A good brand is hard to find.” Unabashed. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. “Different muscle groups. “Okay guys. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. “I can swim for hours. Rrrrrrrr. “But downtown’s not a good move. albeit with difficulty. Too worked up to worry. “Don’t bet on it. “How can you be so sure?” . Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line.” Louis laughed.” Louis continued. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. you know.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. “That’s where Flat Eric lives.” Bella deadpanned.

trying to make the peace. He looked around in that ever-wary way. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. We should be safe there. ACME. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. though.” The meerkat hesitated. On Mercury. peeping outside. 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. one suburban hideout was a good as the next.” the lynx said. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. “If that’s where we decide to go. exhaustion soon caught up with them. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon.” he said. the one that does international flights. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. the moment of light relief forgotten. We need to make our way to JWT Airport.” Louis croaked. “Looks like Coney Island. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. ACME. Hot sun. Louis?” “It’s getting late. “We must have missed our stop. because there’s no public transportation. Boiling sun. “I’m heading for SoHo. was made for them. Inside a smelting plant. as it happened. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. Have you?” The decision. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy.” . to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. “We’ve had a very trying day.” “Decisions. just as the doors were closing. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. she shook her still-slumbering companions. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. Settled in their seats. Things’ll be clearer then. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. Inside a greenhouse. Bella’s obsession with ACME. decisions. And tasted like it too. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. If not quite melting. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. as they tried to get their bearings. swivelling his head this way and that. Aleksandr. “All of which are moot. It’s well uptown.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. “ACME’s our priority.” Understandably perhaps.” Bella said. Bella awoke with a start. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. The place felt like an oven. “Coming with me. It’s relocated to India.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted.” Louis sighed. as he pressed his face against the window. decisions. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains.” She looked from one drained friend to the other. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. Then Orlov followed suit. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction.

A sea of sand stretched in one direction. Far Away. Grill and Waterhole. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. not only looked inviting. The Birds Custard bluebird. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. It was hotter outside than in. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. Bertie Bassett. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. Onlookers. Self-respect be damned. piled upon dune. Bella stood in the doorway. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. Welcome to Mirage. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. We’ll be safe among the carousels. the monocled.” Too parched to say anything. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. as best they could. flat-roofed and ogee arched. The heat was fearsome. Bella wished she was far. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters.“Not a problem. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat.” Orlov rasped. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. Botanic Gardens too. Whatever their phylum. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. Mine host. be gone. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. twisting and turning. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. far away. Unselfconsciously. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. Gathering their wits. top-hatted. The door hissed open. boys. and how Mr Peanut. held court behind the bar. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. a fraud. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. beckoned from the other.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. in short. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. dune piled upon dune. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. Gasping for a drink. Mercifully. like eco- . it said. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. most of which were counterfeit. Except that they weren’t flies. The barflies hung on his every word. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. when brand icons were dapper men about town. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. Much as he loved dry heat. an imposter.” Bella struggled to speak. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice.” Orlov remarked. was a poseur. ghost trains and roller coasters.

The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. Unconcerned. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. the lusty lummox. Panicking. Smirking. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. We’re in Brandablanca. Louis was collared by the meerkat. followed by “Wild Thing”. Louis. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. Orlov persisted. No sign of Owl City. The Animals. Horse Feathers. nor did he want to know right now.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. Monkey Business and more. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. Howlin Wolf. Famous Grouse. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. We’ve got to get out of here.” Undeterred. the audience roared. No matter. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. Lapsed. consisting of Wild Turkey. Meanwhile. “This is the last brand saloon. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. Brusquely. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. Louis didn’t . Orlov didn’t join in.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. Dropped. Adam and the Ants. he didn’t give a 4X. never mind “Fireflies”. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. spokespenguins held to ransom. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. “Chicken feed. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. spokescreatures sold into bondage. The Monkees. Meerkat mambo. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. “Hound Dog”. just as the stork’s set was finishing.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. was in seventh heaven. Grey Goose. much to his annoyance. Bella and Louis supped up. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. for eucalyptus. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. the proper name for the peanut family. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. The lynx hadn’t. a sure-fire floor filler. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds.” “Right. A poultry matter. History. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup.” “It’s mambo. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. let alone an LAX. The Beatles. All axed by their advertising agencies. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. A hen party. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade.

Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. Releasing his grip. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away. They’re in transit. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily.” “Don’t tell me. However.” “Let’s get going. He made his way to the restrooms. having a cigarette. either. doc?” Bella forced a smile. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. trying to hide his relief. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling.” the abstemious meerkat said. standing in the shade. “I didn’t know you smoked. He slipped into the backstage area. though never rising above ill-at-ease. I need something to calm me down.” she said. then. deep in thought. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. a nice tight volume with slight foxing.” . Bella was outside.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. then gestured in the general direction of the bar.” “I don’t. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries.” “I’m afraid it is our problem.” “Excellent. a Happy Meal. It wasn’t so funny the second time. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books. trying to get to Hamlet. There was no sign of Bella. “What’s up. “Okay.want to know. No sign of her there. apparently.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. then. the CEO is. Orlov gave up on the lynx.” “Exactly.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.” Bella nodded. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. He’s on his death bed.

Part V Just Deserts .

Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. Louis wasn’t in the same league. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. He still didn’t want to know. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. His logo. Ali Bally. Unconcerned. fashion designer to the stars. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. “I’ll be back. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. “Do you think he’ll be all right. more emphatically than before. sweetmeats. Awimoway. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. The meerkat was much less impressed. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss.” Orlov answered. carvings. As a feline of sorts. He didn’t want to know. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. he refused to let go. Mustapha cut his prices even more. a stylised scarab in a circle. awimoway. So they left him to it. despite her desire to depart. laying out his wares as he talked. Irate. Pelican and Penguin. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. The lynx didn’t care. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. Ali Balenciaga. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. Ali Boden.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods.” Bella wasn’t reassured. awimoway. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for.” Bella asked anxiously. They explained the situation to him. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. He Dead Decision made. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. they returned to the bar. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . Ali Brioni. He introduced himself as Mustapha. Reluctantly. was also quite striking. Orlov insisted that they leave right now.” Bella promised. Talking all the while. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. Louis was on the dancefloor. carpets. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. Ali Bottega Veneta. Orlov made for the door. shouting over the music. Ali Burberry. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. They explained the situation to him again. spices. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. A mere man. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. They shoved him aside. He paused to get his bearings. Bella was impressed. “He’ll be there when we get back.

across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. hoping to bond with the brute. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. blowing smoke rings. “sorry about that. populated by belching braying camels. Way too hot to argue. he explained with a bronchial cough. Unwisely. Orlov offered him a Lark. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. Joe was undeniably cool. The old lungs weren’t what they were. Scorpion armoured vehicles. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. they’re hot. . detached. He looked supercool too – haughty. Puma helicopters. very. Harrier jets. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. A dung beetle barred their way. Still no sign of a subway. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. they’re not. stood between them and the same sand sea. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary.” he decided. plus provisions for their journey. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. She told the beetle of their intentions. up dune. But business was business.merchants. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. This way was the wrong way. looking down on all he surveyed. very bad idea. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze.” Bella said beneath her breath. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. past thorn-bush. There was no sign of the subway station.” Orlov apologised. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. they’re a delight. “So much for kat-nav. “This way. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. nostrils flared. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. Joe called a halt. They were worrying animal omens. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. Bella waved back. through tamarisk thickets. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. 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. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. Instead. Orlov accepted. Even in the searing heat of the desert. Careless squawk costs lives. Bella decided. He offered one to Orlov. down dune. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. head aloft.” He plunged back into the casbah and. brands go. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. indifferent to everyone around him. Brands come. dragging deeply. The shit of the desert set off. Breath like a brazier. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. a disgrace. after much pushing and shoving. It was Joe Camel himself. Orlov didn’t. emerged on the other side. eyelids narrowed. Eventually. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. good-for-nothing. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. grumbling and griping all the while. as a peacemaker. good fun. “Whoops. Must be the other way. Mr Midden said that was a very. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. Only a palm-fringed oasis.

The Maytag repair man. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. You know how it is. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. I’m an icon. She waddled up the wadi. . “Take care of Louis for me. having decided what to do. his sang-froid abandoned. It was a refuge.” she shouted over her shoulder.” “Ciao. “Looks innocent enough. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. if you want. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. Supporting each other. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. after all. earnestly. smiling. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. She could taste him. undecided. You can go back if you want to. Sorry. “It’s just over that rise. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. having finally found gainful employment.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. “Your funeral. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. Bella nodded appreciatively. a benison. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. to put it mildly. Aleksandr. style’s forever. It was all too much. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. a tropical island in a sea of sand. or something similar. “…brand characters talk.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. Rumours. Mr Kipling was near now. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her.” “That’s true. Whatever. Amazed.bad influence. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. “I can carry you the rest of the way. Aleksandr. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. Bella hobbled on. Sobbing uncontrollably. they clambered up the dusty gulch. who once bestrode BrandLand. causing a mini landslide. This is as far as I go. Customers are fickle. she wept for her dead mummy. dead best friend. Fashion changes. I’m going to see it through. “What rumours?” The camel explained. “I’ve come this far.” Orlov murmured. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. which rolled back down the ravine. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. Joe shrugged. Five minutes later. Bella. Momentarily inattentive. dead daddy. bad as in good. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. Stay true to yourself. Don’t pander. speaking slowly.” Bella replied brusquely. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind.” He indicated with his hoof. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. I’ve heard things. Don’t lose hope. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. tennis courts.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted.

Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. Crazy Eddie. Grrrr. They peeked into the communal sitting room. rising from her sofa. Bow-wow. Joe Isuzu. Yap. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. Betty herself had seen better days.“Welcome to paradise. the Coppertone girl. assorted Scottish Widows. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world.R. But she was friendly enough.” Betty said. Frankie and Louie. Hartley. regretfully. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. explaining the rationale for their operation.” Orlov cried. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. woof. increasing market share. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. the coffee shops. Ruff. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. Clippit. Orlov tried to get through to it. the forgotten British Telecom titans. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. woof. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. as they were ushered into her office. Woof. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. the golf course. Nicole and Papa. It was filled with immortal brand icons. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. On a whim. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. plump cushions. thick carpets. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. sitting in a circle of silence. Nipper responded eagerly. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. “Woof. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel.” Without further ado. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. Frito Bandito. “Look. However.” Orlov replied. smiling benignly. Bow-wow. look. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. as orange as ever. who’d seen better days. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. taking in the gymnasium. Howard Brown. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. the arts and crafts studios. “I think you’ll be impressed. “Would you like to look around?” she said. the Tango man. their raping. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. the convenience stores and the community centre. woof. Aunt Jemima.” . a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. The mute mutt kept mum. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. Beattie and Buzby.

. They were there for the duration.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Smiling benevolently. Right now. Get out. He’s not here. Crocker’s a…c. Thinking quickly. Kipling’s a come-on. . Their accommodation was waiting for them. Never was. They’d walked into a trap.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere.

Chirpy. followed by “Chirpy. which tightened inexorably. followed by “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” followed by…Louis felt a wave of shame wash over his shattered body…”Three Little Fishies”. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. mercilessly. given the free floorshow Louis provided. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. With a sudden shudder of horror. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts.” The agony was unrelenting. feeling queasy. Groaning. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand.” The torture wouldn’t stop. youza. Red Robin”. Cheep”. Then things got a bit hazy. “Noooooooooo. “Oooooohhhhh. though they only had to ask. It was the least the bar owner could do. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity.” The pain was excruciating. though he wasn’t as young as he was. frankly. “lie still”. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. Can’t be too careful. youza. but there was a limit. Cheep. Louis sat up with a start. he remembered several more moments of madness. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. “don’t move”. Dawn would be up and about before long. He flopped back down again. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. Lynxes were lithe. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. Head splitting. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. He was in a storeroom of some kind. well. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. as are bladders full to bursting. . He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. He looked around. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. Louis had never had a hangover like it. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. the mortification or the migraine. However. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. He was lying on a small camp bed. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. the lynx tried to get his bearings. Better not.

Louis needed all the help he could get. hoping to attract someone’s attention. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. He unlocked the door. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. “Avoid the Noid. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. A call to prayer was imminent. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. There was no sign of a cell phone. grabbing hold with both hands. His red-suited. eyes fixed on the smart phone. “I’m talking to you. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay.” There was movement. He reached for his iPaw. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. Anxiety mounting.” he called out. then tried again. which flapped to and fro in his wake. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. His iPaw was missing. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. trying to place the aroma. Louis’s iPaw. before disappearing through a swinging access door. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. rabbiteared guard remained silent. He shouted for assistance. Louis looked up. dying for a drink. briskly. holding it in. liquorice-like. Apart from the sacks of snacks. shoved it open with difficulty. “Christ.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. fiddling with an iPaw. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. He squeezed his face against the bars and.” he shouted. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. Mr Bassett. sugary. the shakes. And a figure sitting silently at the end. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. “I’m talking to you. If not Bertie himself. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. Sobriety took hold. with a view to ringing the bar. head thumping. It was sweet. you son of a bitch. kicking the door and shaking the bars. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. He paused. Suddenly. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. peered through the iron bars. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. Louis played it cool. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. waited for the palpitations to pass. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. “I’ve been expecting you. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. He banged on the door. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. He sniffed. Livid. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. Presumably. Ooohhh yeaaah. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . Only the minarets showed signs of life. Louis angled his face on the bars. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. albeit not on account of the nausea.

an escape route for persecuted brands. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. buy-or-die issues. Instead. he realised that something wasn’t right. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap.” There was no time to lose. “But why.” “That’s what we want them to believe. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. rising energetically from his camp bed. Bassett or no Bassett. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. Mr Lynx. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely.” “I’m not with you. It might already be too late. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. We make dramas out of crises. “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. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. “That’s a bit cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. Bertie Bassett”. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. kid. and suchlike. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. Mr Lynx. He kept his cool instead. nodding toward the barrels once more. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders.” “I see.” Louis countered. Well. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. some of them come back or.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. round up the usual suspects.” he said. Bertie.” Bassett smiled. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. Unilever boy?” He stood up. “Your days are numbered. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. not even “My name is Bassett. hangover overcome by willpower alone. Nonchalant yet nasty. the liquorice magnate said nothing. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. some parts of them come back.” . He had to get moving right away. They never come back. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic.” he said. “Maybe. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. Here’s lookin’ at you. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. Louis refused to be drawn. should I say. in response to the ridiculous death threat.” he said. continuing to play it cool. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. And today’s the day when your number’s up. “They come from that. Have you forgotten your training.

He soon would. 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?”. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. Although he was still alive. However.Ordinarily. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. He should have known better than to tempt fate. . he sensed that Bassett was serious. Anything to make the memory go away. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather.

By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. There was no perimeter fence. Every brand icon. part of the brand trafficking operation. neither electrified nor chain link. The accommodation was superb. were a bit like piggy banks. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. Bella was kicking herself. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. like Mr Kipling. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. no matter how venerable. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. clearly. Brands. Crocker’s camp. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. No hard sell. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. something strange was going on. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. Bella could understand why any brand icon. But. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. its equity was still there. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. That investment kept on growing and growing and.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. The forbidden fruit trick. as Nipper made clear. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. was a crock of marketplace gold. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. As a consequence. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. No hassle. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. as per ACME’s edict. The food. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. with watchtowers and guards. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. She was very tempted. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. 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. The recreational facilities were wonderful. Tom Tomato. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. no matter how outmoded. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. never mind a sickening stench. Mr Soybean. much less the physiology. Bella well knew. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. No hustle. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. Bella could see the attraction of the place. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . No soft soap. There was no unscalable wall.

” Bella said. Not wanting to attract undue attention. He didn’t look up to the challenge. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. only with incense that’s gone off. “Look. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. their . He coughed. patting him on the back. Orlov was doubled over. Hundreds of sports team mascots. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. Even Bella could smell it. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. “I still can’t smell anything. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. She was a penguin ignoramus. That’s where it’s coming from. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. then took in the nine-hole golf course. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. for one – but this was ridiculous. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. Doubtless Tiger. only smarter.the perimeter. was somewhere between niffy and noisome. “Acrylic. retching in a revolting manner. He offered her one. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. minging and malodorous. “Maybe it was something you ate.” Orlov gasped.” She let him splutter. Orlov thought for a second. It worked. He spluttered. “Burning acrylic. Orlov looked up. “Definitely acrylic. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. The aroma. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. no less. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. a penguinoramus. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. “Orlov insisted. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. just to see the look on his face. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. She declined. It was worse than she thought. low-rise glass building. Undeterred. The stench was stronger now. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. behind a dense stand of leylandii. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently.” he added. Bella was beyond belief. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. Still.” she said.” he said. Bella told him so. Some chance. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. struggling to his feet. footloose and fancy free. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. “It’s a bit like a civet. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. there’s a plume of smoke over there. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. There was no escape.

let alone A Bug’s Life. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. Portsmouth’s Frogmore. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen. Stamford the Lion. Appalled. Beanie Babies had been and gone. “They certainly kept that quiet. 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.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. Peppa the Pig was no more.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. Bella. was extinct. which fell away when full. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. It was about to launch into . Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. And won the election by a landslide. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. It was Pegasus.” At a loss. the questers considered their options. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. nothing less than the furry solution. Barney. a brand abattoir. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. The guard was no ordinary guard.” Raging. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. The guard. There was only one problem. the purple dinosaur. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. targets similar work schedule metrics. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. In the annals of advertising slogans. as had Go-Go Hamsters. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. He Gives a Monkey’s. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. Desperate times require desperate measures. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. sadly. As a democrat.” Bella whispered.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. they’re cuddly toys. Samson and Delilah. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. quotas. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. Gruesome as the big screen was. Norwich’s Captain Canary. Aberdeen’s Angus. It was apocaplush.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. As a Russian.” Orlov said.” “Yes. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. From its perch above the production line. pampered. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption.

that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. as you can see.” “Yes. Pegasus looked unimpressed. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. “However. remember. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. If so. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. Oh. BTW.” “Your wish is my “how dare you”.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. “you shouldn’t be here”. I’m not choosy. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry. “Is that so?” “Yes. I dropped Bellerophon in it. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. and don’t look so surprised. that its father. We’ve still got a wish in hand. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. However. the rest soon follow. I’m not proud. She says you’re a sell out. A god’s gotta graft. in case you’d forgotten.” . I’m the offspring of Medusa. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. “The Roc sends her regards. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. Bella.” Pegasus whinnied. she does. Orlov cut the creature off. 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. there’s only two of us.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. Poseidon. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. She’s full of it you know.” Bella acknowledged. It’s the way of the world. Orlov. Orlov. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. Whatever.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. Just ask Tiger. “I’m calling security” spiel.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. Call her. She says you’re dead horsemeat. Once one sponsor departs. Bella seized her chance.

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

the chatterbox beetle explained. he glanced up at the Proctoids. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. he was distracted by a cough. Bleary-eyed. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket.” he said.” Louis snarled. he picked himself up. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. You may also have heard that we get what we want. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. In Cin City. allegedly. a celebrity camel. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. by fair means or foul. Bella sent them. preparing to call for assistance. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. “I’m Julius Pringles. The other was lean. “This is my esteemed colleague. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. They were going to pull the bars out. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. turning defence into attack. “Let me guess. And squeezed. Intrigued. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. A camel was outside. You may have heard of us. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. Get ready to run for it. It was a smell he recognised from way back when.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. The cry caught in his throat. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. P&G shakedown. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. Mr Clean. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. Shaven-headed. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. I’m hoping it will . mean and muscular. At one stage. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. He could hear the door opening. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. They had a rope. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. no one could hear brands scream. Naturally.

It contained a chair.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and.” the lynx sang tunelessly. Not so surprising. It was P&G water. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. With a bestial bellow. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. “Take it easy. “You know I can’t tell you that. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. One-handedly. The persecutor paused. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. Louis?” Playing for time. asswipe. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. Mr Clean will clean your house. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. Is that what you’re saying. Ping. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. moreover.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. a bucket. Under normal circumstances. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. a board.” Clean went crazy. Surprisingly feminine forename.” Pringles ordered. 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. “Let’s find out what he knows first. Sorry. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. With enormous effort. Ping. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. Ping. Clearly. with a butt-ripping jerk. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. both literally and metaphorically. “And grease in just a fair. the one that controls cross-dressing. Stoically. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. Pantene Pro-V enriched.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. the pain would have been intolerable. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. However. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand . Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. Instinctively. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. Veritably. come to think of it. Julius. This was no ordinary water. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. past the Noid who’d nodded off. Ping. Without pausing for breath. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion.

they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. Strangely.” “Glad to hear it. Masochistically shaving against the grain. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. Cursing and swearing. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. Quickly and efficiently. pate glistening. They’re about to abandon your brand name. fraught though they had been. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. His training kicked in.secrets. It’s common knowledge. “Nice lather. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. “Five precision blades. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. he asked Louis to reconsider. Mostly. “I could do with a shave. You don’t owe Unilever anything. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. though. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon.” Admirable though it was. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty.” Clean crowed. eyes glinting. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. He had overlooked one crucially important item. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. Make it easy on yourself. But he had miscalculated. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. Louis.” “Correct. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. “Tell us what we want to know. which creaked and groaned from want of use. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner.” Muscles bulging. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. it was costing him a small fortune. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. The ladies like it that way.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. though. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. he tied Louis down. Howling with fury. Rrrrrrr. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings.” Louis retorted. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. The one without the battery.” he spluttered. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. Even at wholesale prices. Wouldn’t they? . He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. Yes. “Recognise this?” he raged. especially for so little reward. It’s the best a brand can get. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand.

Cats love a tickle.” Pringles said. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. Are you ticklish. gibbering wreck in no time. Clean.” “Cool. It was time for a change in tactics. then turned to go. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. though. “Kill him. By blindly following Gladwell. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. he was a giggling. the American management guru. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. “Try the swiffer. “Well. “We blindsided you with that one.” Louis gasped. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation.” Pringles suggested. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. they tell me. But securely bound and helplessly splayed. “It doubles as a tickling stick.” Louis tried to resist. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner.Clean was getting nowhere fast. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. He really did. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. I never knew that. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. electrostatically.” . “You learn something new every day.” Pringles said. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled.

cut corners. He was capitalism in microcosm. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. He was on a rescue mission.” . Pegasus was basically kind. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. 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. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. The reason rather was that. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process.” Orlov lied authoritatively. Not long after liftoff. Qualitywise. keen to do good. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. move the merchandise. Second. but wish three was unnecessary. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. as gods go. Far from leading Louis to his doom. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. That little brand of yours has potential. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. First. when the chips were down. “But see your vet anyway. which was worrying for a working dromedary.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. Your prices are competitive. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. He owed them three wishes. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised.” “What about you. Reluctantly. just perfect for recessionary times. They weren’t part of the plot. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. release the furry football prisoners. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. “It’s nothing. We can talk to ACME. Third. 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. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. make the sale. ethical. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. bluffed the brusque beast and. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. They had raised the stakes. keep body and soul together. He couldn’t help it. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig.” Unconvinced. They were part of the plot against the plot.

With no realistic alternative. Not as beautiful as the jungle. as brand names go. there might be one or two. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. the threesome took off. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. dotted with iridescent oases. with a slight cough of basin.” There was no persuading him. okay. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. Bella. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. “Hold tight. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. “What’s this?” Bella asked.” Louis chipped in. soaring up and away. He’d take them as far as he could.” He circled and banked and glided. “we’re coming in to land. yet beautiful. It was forbidding. “specially designed for young children. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. one step above slugs and snails. he’d learned something from the Roc. “The objective you seek is upstream. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. sludgy and sluggish. “Okay. A vast river. half as old as time. Flashes of lightning. the brand band agreed.” Pegasus snorted. But dung beetles are persona non grata. herds of wild horses.“I’m a dung beetle. Evidently. snaking camel trains. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well.” Orlov added. I’m in the dingleberry business. but no further. they came to rest beside a small jetty. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. There’s the Raid Bugs. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. Pegasus didn’t pause. Although Bella didn’t like heights. How dare he drop them . Pegasus was getting frisky too. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. Nobody loves us. And. That vessel will take you there.” the flying horse finally announced. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. A flurry of feathery flutters later. The beetle had a business to run. Forthright as ever. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. rolled before them. Decrepit. though. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. As far as most people are concerned. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. closely-packed settlements. laid into the winged god.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. There’s Caterpillar. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. “This is as far as I go. There’s…” “Ladybird Books.

What can I do you for?” Bella looked round.” the captain conceded. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. excitement.” They didn’t know how it was.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. brothers and sister. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye. You’re no loss. Hence Kodak.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago.” With that. A grey-bearded. You don’t belong in BrandLand. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. A flash in the pan website. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. You’re a joke. K-X soda. 4X beer.” Bella ventured. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.” a cordial voice chortled. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. P-P-P-Penguin. Welcome on board. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. “The B-sound’s effective too. It’s the k-sound. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. up and away.” Feeling a little left out. KFC. “I guess we better get going then. Calvin Klein. Coca-Cola. modestly. you see. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. “Have a nice day. “Betty Crocker. “Welcome to the jungle. There wasn’t much to see: a .” Orlov contributed. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. They use my proper name in Britain. plosives. “Captain Iglo. I presume. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. X-series sports cars. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. “I’m called Iglo in France. X-Box. Krispy Kreme. “Yes. 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. sibilants. with its connotations of edginess. I don’t particularly mind. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. Earnestly. landlubbers. snapped open its wings. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. but as long as they keep the Captain part. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft.” Louis said nothing.” he corrected. Kit-Kat. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. apparently. energy: X-Factor. aka Iglo. You know how it is. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. The old salt nodded sagely. aspirates. X-tra strong mints. Campbell’s Soup. “Compare the market. open-faced figure.” “Captain Birdseye.” “Correct. Birdseye showed them around.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. “I can see into the future. “I intend to.

Captain. a gimcrack forecastle. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. “The ACME Horde. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. it shouldered its way upstream. Captain Birdseye cast off. After the requisite toot of the whistle. With a barf and a bellow. “Taste it. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. It’s pretty inhospitable country. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. every free gift scheme. by others. every lucky winner draw. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. it’s called by some. Sceptical yet intrigued.” she said. Diet’s the least turbulent. The Trove of Death. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. As shipshape as they’d ever be. Bella. Just. every loyalty .” He nodded. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. every air miles offer.” “I wasn’t going to ask. done that. “There are three tributaries. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. I know treasure seekers when I see them. as if unconvinced by her reply.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. lost in their own thoughts.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. “Before you ask. “I’ll take your word for it. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. it was a plausible brand yarn and. And was wearing it under his uniform. However. not to say faintly ludicrous. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. Classic and Zero.” Birdseye replied. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. “So.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged.” He handed her an old pewter cup. Progress was slow. Every sales promotion. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. bought the T-shirt. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. “The Cokenoco. The jetty was soon behind them and. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead.” “I think it’s exhaustion.compact cabin. as he nudged the wheel this way and that.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. steering a route of least resistance. We’ve been on a long journey. He’d been there. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene.” Eyes twinkling. albeit steady as she goes.” “Right. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. Diet. stained with jolly jack tar. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years.

privilege card redeemable premium. reward or guarantee. that is. complete the sentence.card. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings.” . every collect the tokens. And it’s buried in them thar hills. who sells it on. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. win a car. According to old wives’ tales. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. win a holiday. win a house. scratch card. win a million. In return for a fee. every money off voucher. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality.

The throbbing ceased. “No added sugar. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats.” Grinning despite herself. if a trifle slippery. Niacin. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. 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. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. to everyone’s relief. Guinness is good for you”. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and. Every so often. they forged forcefully ahead. the MGM lion. Burning Bright The jungle closed in. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. The noise was deafening. catchphrases and suchlike. The horror. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar.G. Guinness is good for you. screaming the praises of P. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims. “Intuition. “The horror.Chapter Eighteen Tony.” the old boatman added. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. It was humid. It’s one of our special editions. the Exxon tiger. “Instinct?” Bella asked. A trail of hoof.” it parroted. as Bella. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. Tips. “Calcium. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. Tony. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. “You can’t miss it. in a foot race. She didn’t want to know. Screeches. However.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you.” Orlov winked at Bella. Her companions didn’t disagree. It was hot. He can always swab the decks with the stuff.” Orlov murmured. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. “Must be a nightmare after a storm. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch.” he said. or had been fairly recently. “I’ll wait for you. yammering at top speed. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. as the going got increasingly rutted.” “I’ll say. guys. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. The path was narrow but passable.” “It’s okay. slogans. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. It’s big in Brazil. . “It’s that way.” she observed. Riboflavin. “I got it covered. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. straplines. Louis and Orlov disembarked.” the lynx intervened.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all.

understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. was scattered around the periphery. Emboldened. Boom. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. A great shout of glee rose up . the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. many miles. if not quite unbearable. the high priest of high fashion. With a blood-curdling yell. Chuckling. Orlov and Louis looked worried. though they weren’t the centre of attention. big brand in west Africa. minus the vocal accompaniment. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. Boom-boom. Boom-boom. Boom. Boom. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. dump bins. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs.” Bella hissed. coupons. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. cut cases. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. Boom. A second drummer joined in. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. “Let’s just watch and wait. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. then a third.” Orlov whispered. Suddenly. brandishing a burning brand. Boom. decidedly unpleasant. If ACME’s behind this. posters.listening intently from time to time. Unfortunately. shelf-talkers. Bella burst out laughing. they inched forward and. “Advent.” “Ssssshhhhh. as the ceremony proper commenced. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. must have carried for many. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. The clammy heat was. “Ssssssshhhhhh. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. This was no ordinary ceremony.” Louis was less than impressed. easing a succulent aside. it didn’t last long. a big. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. The crowd held its breath. as well they might. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. however. Mr Kipling might make an appearance.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. Boom-boom. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. The drumming stopped. Fast as the cobra was. Boom. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre.

exposing the firm white flesh beneath. with fighting as part of the fun. circled slowly searching for an opening. In his top hat and monocle. as a groan escaped from the majority. This also ended on a disappointing note. she encouraged the crowd to join in. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. Clearly. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. Peanut paused. because a lot of money had been lost. slowly. as the onlookers went ape. meanwhile. Without further ado. the main event. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. 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. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. belly dancing. Booing derisively. Howling with bestial abandon. Luckily. removed his monocle and. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. the cruiserweight climax of the card. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. His followers showered him with confetti- . seductively. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. Which of course it did. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. pretending it had steamed up. The first combatant strode in imperiously. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. Ingeniously. Transfixed. The response was lukewarm. The polar bear burst asunder. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. Aghast at the brand butchery. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. Miss Banana. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. The drums started up again. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. those whose side-bets were misplaced. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. She started peeling off her skin.from one group of onlookers. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. however. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. Then another brand character contest kicked off. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. Mr Peanut. she started dancing. Bella concluded that Louis was right. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob.

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.

Part VII

Brands Can Only Get Better

Chapter Nineteen

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

slow travel. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. brand. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. He added. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. whirlpools. . CEOs need to chill a little. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. the jungle less and less dense. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. eddies. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. after asking what was biting. The river got narrower and narrower. of conviction. If anything. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. slow parenting and so on. He knew what P&G were capable of. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. Izod and analogous alligators. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. which was a first for Mustapha. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time.form of sandbanks. since they are exposed to them more frequently. The lynx laughed it off. They stopped. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. similar to slow food. But not right away. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. shallows. rapids. 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. Bella wasn’t so sure. The captain said they were Crocs. exchanged greetings and. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. A strange strain of fish. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. chewed the fat about brand longevity. shook him down. He’d been there. But she said nothing. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. 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. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. and whisked him off to meet his doom. top-hatted and smirking. apropos of nothing. He was a Mars Inc. of continuing with the same basic proposition. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. Understandably. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence.

” Bella contradicted. no. He looked in pretty good shape. That’s definitely not Doughboy. more like.” “Heaven help us. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably.” Orlov gasped. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. There were no signposts to speak of.” “No.As the brand band slid upstream. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs.” Louis sighed. “They’re all at it nowadays. wondering if they could do anything for him. a superhuman snowman. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. bigger than the Marlboro Man. even though he knew he shouldn’t. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. allowing for the onrushing current. “They were airbrushed. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture.” “He’s big. asking after his welfare. He throttled back and. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. “Five star restaurants. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. No sweat. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. all right. “Who?” “Bibendum. he’s really let himself go. Louis and Orlov fell about. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. right in front of the distended inner tube. either. run a few errands. though not inaccurately. The overweight icon said nothing. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand. Mustapha looked confused.” Mustapha said. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. they spotted Strider. The remains of a massive .” “Photoshop. The Michelin Man. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. Barclays Bank. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy.” Bella snapped. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. He doles out the awards. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. Not far ahead of them. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll. the Johnnie Walker whisky character.” Louis continued. “Jeez.” Orlov quipped. At a bend in the river. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. held her steady in the centre of the stream. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. like little boys playing truant.” Louis said. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. don’t forget. believe me. in an awestruck voice.

as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. ravaged by fine wines. but he still said nothing. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. And it was. “It isn’t alive. The blimp burped instead.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb. Before long. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers.” Orlov said. Smiling appreciatively. the mist descended. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. “I think it’s a statue.” But it wasn’t. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. White to start. . Red thereafter.

with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. The fug literally vibrated at one point. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. sometimes to starboard. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. Another loud hum struck up to port. UFOs.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. She had other things to attend to. A humming sound started up to starboard. “Area 51. But Bella wasn’t listening. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Brand abduction. smell it. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. sometimes arcing across the sky. touch it. “But in this day and age.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. Her brain had gone numb. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. There’s nothing to worry about. Close encounters. There was Google’s Android software icon. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. right? Since the 1950s. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. such as it was. practically. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. “We’re entering Aliens country. There was Quisp. They moved around above them. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. No good will come of this. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. She couldn’t think of any more. pulsing intermittently. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. at least. he gurned from time to time. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. Orlov?” Bella called. She could sense it. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. “What do you reckon. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. “Maybe back in the good old days. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. like an air raid siren. Little green men. Bella bellowed back.” he shouted. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. Bella stood in the forecastle. sometimes to port. ACME was within her grasp. Taking command once more. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already.” More in hope than expectation.

the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. even. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. presumably to another planet. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. flight by flight. Without pausing for breath. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. They’re impassable. it was definitely the colossus of brands. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. The acme.” she called. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. though. It got louder and louder. sucking his thumb. Smirking despite their perilous situation. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. Brand stretch is bad news. The landing lights had moved on. bracken patches. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. broke out his wings and took flight. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. but Bella said no. Several flights of stairs later. legs lashing. Before long.” Bella hissed. “This is Fanta Falls. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. bramble . “Hush. he gave up. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. to the tableland above. allegedly. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. Ho. Bella’s band were close. bubbling and fizzing. someone. eyeball-melting orange in hue. An intense stare. At the side of the falls. “I know where we are. There’s no point persecuting him any further. they mounted purposefully. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. let her go. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. Eventually. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine.” Orlov did the needful. very close. as a wall of fizzy water. “This is where we get off. He’s done his duty by us. Spectral silence reigned. cut into the living rock. plunged into the fog-bound abyss.” she shouted to Louis. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. A vast orange sodafall. “Shut him up. Bella licked the side of her beak.” Her companions didn’t doubt it.” Louis didn’t disagree. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. rather. The buzzing had stopped. Ho. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. The epitome.yammering that prevented rational thought. A dull rumble roared ahead.” With a natural nautical flair. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. “Please. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. Said they were legendary. feelers flailing. Louis made to tie the tub up. The lull didn’t last. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. The captain’ll come round soon enough.

it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. wall-mounted day planners.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. The others gathered round to do likewise. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. Truth. almost art deco. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. neo-classical pastiche. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. Certainly. surely. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. As they drew closer to the structure. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. It was a university. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. too. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. “I just don’t get it. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. Beefeater. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. to be precise. “and then see what’s what. cold. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. I suspect. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. of course. They set off for the administrative building. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. “It’s Professor Kipling. Bella was bewildered. As Bella and the boys strolled past. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. nothing less than BrandLand University College. However. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms.bunches and hardy karst grasses. Bibendum. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. grikes and runnels ahead. more beautiful still were the students. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. a new university. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. cold. Although few in number on the campus outskirts.” he said. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . According to a poll in Time magazine. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. while trying to work out where they were. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. He was right. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye.” she said.

“Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. Pekkle the duck. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. Pochacco the dog. Picke Bicke mouse.” Mustapha crowed. They piled into the lift and. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. That’s a good thing. 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. There’s hope for us yet. Louis. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. Kipling’s door was at the very end.” . Louis would have volunteered to help. Top medics are always called Mister. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. mouthing bowwow for good measure. Bella shook her head. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. a kind of inverted snobbery. “This is the place. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor.” “Great. “Excellent. It’s even more elevated than Professor. “There’s a board by the door that says so. a. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. Don’t be bashful. “At last. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. a few moments later. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. if not exactly in seventh heaven. Exasperated. while holding open the heavy glass door. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. They knocked politely.” Bella noted. Not him too.” There was indeed.” a melodious voice responded. rats.” he shouted. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline.body. Understandably.a. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. “It’s Mr Kipling.” Orlov sighed. It was a nondescript sixties tower block.p.” “He’s in. He winked by way of replying. disappeared into the belly of the beast.” Orlov corrected. “Enter. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties.” “Actually. then reappeared waving excitedly. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. “Enterrrrr. “He isn’t a professor after all. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig.s. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions.

Bella took a deep breath. Louis nodded. thought about things for a second.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Undeterred. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. Orlov shrugged. and pushed. raised her flipper. .

as was an Acer Aspire laptop. Cataletto. “Before you ask. as product spokespersians. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. that it would be filled with books and not much else. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. Books there were. Salvadore Kitty. what few portrayals there are. Whereas dogs are everywhere. She was right on the first count. dewy eyed. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”.” Mr Kipling said. But there were long chains of Russian cats. somehow. There were paintings by Catavaggio. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. She didn’t know what to expect. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. It was the statues that surprised her. She imagined. Pussain. smiling obsequiously. with black necktie and starched collar. “Is that like the glass ceiling. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. Statues of cats. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. etc. “First. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. As Bella gazed around the room. and several others she didn’t recognise. His handlebar . all ceramic. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. Catstable. “only for cats?” Smiling. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. cats are discriminated against and. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. curled in a ball. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. which stretched from floor to ceiling. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. are often negative. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. “Second. but not on the second. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. as brand mascots.” she asked. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. though most of these were open and in use. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. Dozens of them.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. all silent. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling.

his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. However there was a good reason for that. “Correct. Louis. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. “I see.” he called. He rubbed his chin idly. it transpired. As it was true confessions time. intellectual acuity. Black Beauty. . turning to Orlov. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. much less the BrandLand University campus. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle.” Kipling said. “I see. To all intents and purposes. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. peering at her intently. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. since the brand was a lynx in name only. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. then rose to greet his visitors. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. along with the space-invader sound effects. Bella inhaled deeply. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. lost in thought. Orlov. he was less impressed by.” Kipling conceded. industrious. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. He recognised Bella right away. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. He knew her grandfather well. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. or said he did. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. rose from his desk. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties.” he continued. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. about flipper fatigue. nor the surrounding countryside. unerring. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands.” Kipling said calmly. Indeed.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. “And you. clandestine success. “Let me show you something. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. proper. The patriarch pushed back his chair. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host.

is an agglomeration of ACMEs. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at.” Bella said. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. Toad of Toad Hall. used by all and sundry. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. “It’s more intangible than that. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. Bad as capitalism can be. “If it’s not any of the buildings. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. With a start. Bella. let alone a committee that calls the shots.Animal Farm. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. ACME is a generic term. It’s a fake. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. What you see. the Hare and the Tortoise. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist.” “An exceedingly good fake. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. purple cows. There is no controlling force. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. surrounded by plaster cats. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment. Everything became clear. “So. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone.” A light went on above her head. The clouds parted.” “In a way. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. She tried again. Call of the Wild. Bella awoke. Academy Country Mammal Education. Watership Down. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. The Ugly Duckling. Bella. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. “We’re talking about a state of mind. “Take a sip. Mr Kipling sat beside her. animal emblem products in particular. to Kipling’s irritation. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. Bella was too stunned to respond. a glass of hard liquor in hand. She’d been out for hours. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. worried looks on their faces. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. where we study black swans.” Orlov quipped. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below.” he said. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. unprotected by copyright or trademark. Bella. The Gruffalo. I take it. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal.” At a loss. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. with a .

Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element.” Bella said. she thought. “Branding. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. instant returns.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. say. You should consider a career in academia. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. However. especially in these days of instant results. I could acquire a taste for that. One was right in front of the lynx. emphasising. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. I’m okay.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. or so the story goes. raising a flipper in protest. Exactly. Aleksandr. “These are the essence of branding. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. “No really.” The meerkat nodded sagely. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. then stowed the bottle away. though. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. The rewards are enormous in the end. though. “Almond slices. We need people like you round here. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. It was a rhetorical question. Orlov dropped his eyes. He was starving. . Branding is what differentiates the identikit. Effective branding is a very slow process. “Exactly. Curvoisier delivered. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection. renders the similar dissimilar. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. As Bella sat up. to her companions’ relief. someone once said.” With a knowing look. Kipling returned to his desk. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. instant rewards. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. “This isn’t a snack. All this way for what? What indeed. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. separates the inseparable. Very impressed. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. “I’m not hungry.twinkle in his eye. “Oh. instant impact…or else. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. distilled from dead dogs. It’s a test. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good.” With a good-try smile.” he said.” 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. “I’m impressed. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. He succumbed. however. perhaps? Apple pie. aren’t they? Angel cake. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. “We live in a world of identical products. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. just like these slices of cake. It looked and smelled delicious.” Disappointed.

his rudeness. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties. Louis struck his best cute cat pose. It’s cheap. You establish a monopoly. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. fast and effective.” . “Exactly. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face.” Mr Kipling replied.” Bella said. eyeing up the other slice.” Louis added.” “I still don’t see. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. “I think you do. at least in the short run. You swallow the competition. finishing her brandy.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed. He needn’t have bothered.. Exactly..” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised.

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. is that penguins are as popular as ever. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head.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. they were much less photogenic than adélies. He’d concocted a credible external threat. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. emperors. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. Models and Explanations. was motivated by self-interest. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. Bella had never heard the expression before. his slaughter of the innocents. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. though. swear to anything. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. say anything. Breed-interest. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. It was a blatant power-play. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. Next are bipedal animals. Had it been McKitty. chinstraps or rockhoppers. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. The demand for spokescreatures. Captain Birdseye. Dogs’d do anything. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. to say nothing of tourists. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. Humankind. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. when western capitalism also wobbled. If anything. rather. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. according to Kipling. Michelin Man. those that walk or stand upright . an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. He wanted power. Cute critters remind them of childhood. As did the Great Chain of Branding. was counter-cyclical. designed to make his breed the boss. However. Le Penguin didn’t want that. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. as did the early 1900s. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Bella cursed herself bitterly. his call for a cull of isabellines. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. the suckers at the centre of it all. in short. Accordingly. The irony. frankly.

She glanced across at Kipling. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. meerkats and prairie dogs. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. They were a study in contrasts. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. penguins. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. though not as far down as six-legged. She’d fallen for it. Bella felt fit to be tied. “Rrrrrrrrr. However. at bottom. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt.” Bella purred. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. by and large. “I think it’s time to go. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. Not by a long chalk. She recalled. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. Recession. Easy-going as a rule. the climax of Animal Farm.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. tigers. cats. Literally. Worse. . dogs. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. Le Penguin had won. sadly. sheep. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. The entire journey had been a waste of time. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. She turned to her companions. Not completely. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. crocodiles are further down the rankings. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. She’d been a fool. with shame. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. they say. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. But all was not lost. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. naturally. Not yet. Quadrupeds like cows. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. because penguins had done pretty well. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. to the top of the penguin pile. Well beaten. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. much less millipedes. spiders and cockroaches. They hugged. most notably bears. “I’ll be staying here for a semi-human fashion. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. She’d been outsmarted. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. is red in tooth and claw. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. or possibly rockhoppers. they’d been living on a pig’s back. given its size and growth prospects. The Great Chain explained a lot.” “Actually. She was going to miss him. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. or so she believed. rhinos. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. Louis seemed excited. Bella. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. She’d been beaten. Beaten.” Louis said. Clearly. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. monkeys. guys. Branding.

“You gave Kipling the look. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. including Catch It. I know. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble.” She leant forward. Still chatting. Scoff It. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. as well as with sauces. the vaunted TV naturalist. Clean It. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length.” Touched. Attenborough. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. The meerkat was mistaken. I’m Flat Eric 2.” the great brand man chuckled. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. She held him tightly. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. But I skimmed that particular entry. Skin It. Beaten to his own punch line. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. kissed him on the cheek and. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. “I’ve got a lot to learn. Toast It. I’m a fad. I know. Cambridge. Taste It. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. and the not so highly regarded Department of . Assam. for starters. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. “If ever you need…” “Yes.” he said. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. Shoot It. eyes shining with meerkat tears. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. “Thanks. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. “Why’s that.” Louis laughed.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. pickles.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. Ever proper. Cook It. condiments and preserves. the way I skimmed so many others. To his shame and embarrassment. Trim It.” he giggled. “I think we can do better than that. Aleksandr. Apparently. I’m afraid. for example. You’re too kind. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. Her latest was called Snare It. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. Bella. However. before whispering in his ear. I could do with it. Follow me. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged.Sad-faced. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. which was sure to prove provocative. “That’s our Simples secret. with a come-here gesture to Louis. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. Bella. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. “I’m staying too.” Mirthful. I’m a fraud. he looked forward to attending her lecture. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. “…and. Thanks.0. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand.

Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. “But where?” Louis inquired. “But how?” Bella asked.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). while rubbing his legs gleefully. beehives. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. before you know it. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. With six legs and a little get up and go. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. though.” “Many claws make light work. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. Can’t stand the cold. “I like this place. one Mustapha Midden. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. “But surely. she looked like a sacred ibis. and. “You might be needing these for your journey.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. “After you’ve cleaned up here. So much so. bookstore.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. lookingood-ladies palaver. Mustapha stared at them askance. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. All six of them. Her utter amazement. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. credit…” No less nonplussed. Before long. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall.” With a flourish. all with a snazzy scarab logo. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces.” Orlov said. they emerged into a compact. however. ponytails. Mustapha.” Orlov said. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. Eventually. plus matching undergarments. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. “I’ve got something for you. They were a perfect fit. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. don’t you know. raw material. bobcat’s your uncle.” He rubbed his claws again. “All sold out. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. the throng dispersed.Popular Culture. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties.” “No can do. Bella tried them on. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. “you need permission. suppliers. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. I’m a desert rat. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner. With the hood up. the great . Under normal circumstances. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post.

she was gone. where she awaited further instructions. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. the arbiter. On Kipling’s call. Bella hugged Aleksandr. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. Louis. . the scribe.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone.

She had nothing to lose. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. Ogilvy hated flying.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. suffice it to say. Bella thought. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. As they flew over Fanta Falls. If not quite Anna Karenina. Isaac and Nina. 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. yah. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. the offbeat plan solidified.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. “Yah. Bella replied in the affirmative. she asked. But after Pegasus and the Roc. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. much less defeated fierce macaronis. “We fiddled while the brand burned. As they rose to their cruising altitude. So did Bella. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. If he’d been on this Rolls. She asked instead about the brand. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. with impenetrable jungle on either side. During the appeasement era. Bella was spellbound.” Ecstasy said immodestly. Paris Humboldt. I am. though. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. Bella didn’t hold that against her. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. under German ownership. redolent of Roedean. “They don’t make ’em like you. “You’re looking well on it. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. she had lost her best friend. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. It was true what they said. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. 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. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. she was getting used to it.” she said. She had lost her parents. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights.” “Rather. lowly place though it was. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. luxurious. serene. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. Why. anymore. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable.” she replied diplomatically. apparently. complimenting the carrier on her build quality.

Perched on the back of a flying angel. moreover. She could see the Homebase Glacier. He’s a tyrant. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. “Yes. even though she’d no home to go to. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. More and more turned round and faced skywards. except that there were more macaronis than before. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. rather than the narrative that surrounds it.” “Tell the tale. an enormous shocked intake of breath. folks. looking for a suitable landing site. look. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. Better yet. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. It was invigorating. A murmur commenced. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. taking in the incredible apparition above them. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica.” “Quite. The bitterer the better. make the sale. Almost instantly. though some adélies looked up. It’s a trick. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. all shouting as one. in the far distance. It was déjà vu all over again. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation.” Ecstasy sighed. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. all equidistant. don’t fall for it. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. Sad.” Taken aback. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. Bella felt a chill in the air. Bella whirled round.“That’s where we went wrong. It was wonderful. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. Suddenly she could. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. The isabellines must be found! The emperors are responsible! The cunning kings are irresponsible! The rebellious rockhoppers will pay for aiding and abetting their isabelline brethren! ACME insists!! True to form. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre.” All talked out. all regimented. She could see them pointing their flippers. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. The muster was much better organised. Before long. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. She was home. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. Outraged. the Iceland ice shelf. I suppose. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. He sounded crazier than ever. Buffeted by howling winds. wrapped up . Look. the deep blue Boots crevasses. Bella believed. Bella screeched at the multitude below. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. it was bitter. It was beautiful too. a penguin power play. She couldn’t make it out at first. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her.” Carried away on the wind. she mused. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. Bella could feel herself welling up.

straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. head covered in an enormous cowl. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. which of course is our community’s speciality. however. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. The Ibis. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. “According to the Meow Jones Index. She bit her lip. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead.” Bella announced to the multitude. a shot across the bows. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. Would it were otherwise. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. She took a deep breath. But he couldn’t interrupt. followed by those of gentoo descent. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. a a great taupe cloak. while pulling back her khaki cowl.” She paused again. here on behalf of ACME. “There is a solution. a way out for us all. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. the coming creature is the prairie dog. however. We’re all macaronis now. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. Emperors. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. “I am. Ten days ago.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. it seemed. He quickly regained his composure. because she was one of their own. The entire crowd squawked in horror. Antithesis. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. it needed several seconds to germinate. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. I met him. These were the people who’d killed her parents. It requires a little lateral thinking. another rises.” she whispered to herself. she must have been a baleful sight. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. “Seize the day. Having planted the seed of hope. Denunciation was doomed. Bella swallowed. Even macaronisation won’t save us. However. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. they seemed to say. As one creature falls in human estimation. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. There is no hope for us. It was hard to control her anger. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. It was risky. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. He vacated the microphone. a sign. Inadvertently. as he tried to work out her angle. as her image appeared on the giant screen. The crowd gasped again. had finally arrived. She held fire.” . All brands must pass. in delight and relief. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. Very risky. with only her beak protruding. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. She knew she only had one shot. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot.

She had another card to play. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. Bella thought. but the rewards are enormous. The blackfoots went bananas. of togetherness. though. she turned away from the podium. we’ll cull you. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. penguin parity didn’t exist. Kings could be kings. where you belong. sadly. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. It was the riskiest of the lot. “Fellow penguins. Prairie dogs are tuftless. such as our beloved macaronis. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. will have to depilate. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. No more hairpieces. Having won over the doubters. a huge roar of approval rent the air. Victorious. Playful as always. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price.” the audience shouted. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks.” “Not today you won’t. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured. like us. a little like isabellines.” There was complete silence for a second.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. one for all. emperors emperors.” . It was all or nothing. Suddenly. And take your tufts with you. “It means removing all tufts. Even our most extravagantly crested species. Penguins are passé. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. No more tufts. because I’ll be back.” she said calmly. she looked incredible. The old order would re-establish itself.” “Catch you later. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. Today is my day.” Mmmm. I know.” He glared murderously. Not sceptical. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. No more macaronisation. “Every prairie dog has its day. “I’ll get you for this. This is a heavy price. royals royals. They live in large communities like us.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. But with a sick slimeball like you. of all for one. complete with stylish scarab logo. Not bemused. She already had. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. critter. “Fear not. The dream did. “I want my MuMi. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. Enjoy it. The gentoos jumped for joy. I want my MuMi. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. though. I’ll make an exception. They look a little like us. asshole. you isabelline bitch. In reality. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. “I want my MuMi. even though their natural crests would have to go too.The audience exchanged glances.” “Don’t cull us. Bristling with rage. as the gathering made up its mind.

For ever. Pixar and Dreamworks. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. The cuter the critter. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. 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. she’d never felt so lonely. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . Still. Thoughts of her late parents. Finny too. or to complain about stereotyping. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. according to Mr Kipling. Except it didn’t last long. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. Where there’s muck there’s brands. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. She didn’t belong anymore.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. she told herself. the more they exploited it. there were MuMis to move. prevalent though pigeonholing was. Thoughts of her dead friend. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. be it the iPod. Akin to chained animals in their phone. admittedly. 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. 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. In the meantime. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. but really didn’t now. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. since penguin popularity had never been higher. Orlov had said. was draining away inexorably. she had a job to do. Rin Tin Tin. Stuart Little on the one hand. It was unnecessary. Sean the Sheep on the other. True.and laptop-equipped cubicles. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. Donald Duck. if not his totemic tufts. mashups and graphic novels. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. Look on the bright side. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. She never really did. Mickey Mouse. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. Alone with her thoughts. trampled on though they were. However. they dreamed dreams of freedom.

” Mustapha countered. the ride was really rather thrilling. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. Mustapha changed the subject. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. It was time to pay her final respects. Mummies mean a lot. smiling at the strangely distant memory. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. “I’ll be needing agents.” “Goody! Gotta go. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. Air kiss. The sun was low in the sky. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. Mummies are special. I’ll be passing on P&G.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. suffice it to say. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. Actually. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. air kiss. if there were problems with build quality.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. Logistics. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. especially to those without them. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. let alone satanic macaronis. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. Bella was all alone. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. because they already embody the brand. Bella. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. No one was looking. she said her fashionista farewells.deliverer. She had a busy time ahead of her.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. She checked her MuMi ensemble. such as it was. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. Evening. Seemed pretty stout. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. who was hard at work on his furballs. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest. was drawing in. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to.” she chided. Ciao. She stared over the edge of the glacier. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. Mustapha. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. On a whim. However. She felt the material with a flipper.” With a smile of admiration. she Skypied Mustapha. Laughing. darling. many maintain. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. . The crevasse caught her eye. Mustapha. you know. “that there are forty million cats up north. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. “I hope you realise. “I’ll work on it. She glanced around.” “I hope you realise. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach.

she remembered the wall of death. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. screaming. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. Pale Tiffany blue to start. A sheet anchor. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. She tried to kick the thing off. unquestionably. across the bay. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. eyes watering. her death wish. Isaac and Nina. It got caught around her ankles. Uncle Izzy. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. The kaleidoscopic colours. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. the great divide. But only for a second. shrieking with alarmed laughter. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. trying to focus. my head hurts. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. howling. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. slow-witted leopard seals. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. in fact. it descended through IBM Blue. punctuated by periods of blind panic. but was far too fearful to care. more like. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. no way. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. She hurtled round bends. She’d forgotten how fast it was. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. were incredible to behold. “Izzy. She corkscrewed like crazy. Pepsi-cola Blue. apart from that downpour up the jungle. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. not looking where she was going. the warp-factor slide into the sea. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. A death sentence. moaning and groaning. She pushed and pushed and pushed. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. The previous ride was coming back to her. the precipitous final plunge. Bella shook her head. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. past slackjawed. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. to no avail. She bounced over bumps several times. however. more like. All of a sudden. beak aching. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Despite her abject terror. Go faster. She might even have looped the loop on occasion.“Weeeeeeeeee. BMW Blue. young woman. Recklessly. yourself especially. as there always are. Head throbbing. Alarm bells ringing. The looming twosome merged into one.” he observed. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. Paris. water-resistant. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. She could see stars. Waterlogged.” “I…I…I…Oh.” .” Bella dived head-first into the void. Both of them did.

Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. daddy. manifestly in mourning. head completely clear. “Worried sick. what have you been doing with yourself. worried sick. she hugged her parents with all her might. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. She peeped anxiously over the screen. “Mummy.” . She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. There the heiress was.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. daddy. but she’ll live. you say?” “Yes. heads bent. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. mummy. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. Bella leapt up. They had their hands full with Paris. daughter of mine. looking pale and interesting. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. They rushed toward her. Bella scampered across to her best friend. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. huddled together. young lady. Disappearing off like that.” Smiling indulgently. it was Bella’s decision. You owe them an apology. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. and then she saw them. “No. mummy. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. They all talked at once. Without a by your leave. followed his indicative flipper. “Paris is perfectly fine. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. Daddy.” “Miracles never cease. to his delighted consternation.” He had her on “are”. no. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. Staggered. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. But her outfit saved her. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. “So.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. Bella’s parents came to join her. “Your parents are worried sick about you. to one side of the wall of death divide.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. However. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. She’s happy the way she is. They assumed the worst. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. all distant relatives. Ecstatic. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. We smuggled her to safety.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. sleeping gently. backs bowed. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. dearest. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. Plans to get a real job. There’s a bit of scarring.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way.” They looked up. not knowing what to expect. a proper job. daddy. Overcome with emotion. surrounded by screens. she didn’t know what to say. you know. They couldn’t find her. she toward them. The decision was made. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her.

” THE END . it’s a long story. Let me explain.“What??!!” “As I said.

“That’s a good question. plans and profitability. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle.” “Like a secret message.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. Who will win. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. Daisey. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. on the web. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. who would win?” And. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. and the perfect work will do” Needless to say. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. that at some point in the proceedings. because we need to be the . for example. without fail. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. I have no fucking idea. you know. As an Amazon serf explains in his side-splitting account of “Jeff’s gorilla and bear thing”: We would all laugh very hard and look knowingly at each other. the ebullient founder of Amazon. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. Way back in the early days of the company. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. prospects. 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. So much so.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. Although no topic was taboo.” “Or a plan.

reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. the students hated Levitt’s essay.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. favourably. bombastic and.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. petroleum. admittedly. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. boring. They found it dull. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. Some time ago. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. But. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . Jaguar’s jaguar. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. though. All things considered. enthusiastically.armed bears. interestingly. Puma’s puma. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. Maybe. 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. I made a start on several others. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored.2 Much to my surprise. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. We begin with a little bit of backstory.3 Taken aback by this reaction. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. Bears with guns. I conceded. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. 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. a sure fire cure for insomnia. I mean. Some students were blown away. Maybe. Aflac duck. and. hey. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. the case studies in the original – railroads. Maybe. the bears who come equipped. today’s multi-tasking. I cast around for excuses. I mused. Granted. I didn’t get round to most of them. short. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. And now that BrandLand “exists” – as a kind of Oz with advertising – there’s no reason why it can’t be revisited from time to time. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). it pains me to report. I surmised. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. I fully expected the students to respond positively. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons.

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. as an aberration. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre.Unfortunately. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. the writing role model was Dan Brown. But then I noticed something intriguing. if not undaunted. Once again. Except that I did. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. secret codes proliferated. Undeterred. They cost an absolute fortune. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. As an inveterate booklover. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. Between 2005 and 2008. naturally). while queuing up for the cash register.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. what’s more. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. as did Bono. 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. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). . Let alone thrillers. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. by the task I’d set myself. Agents & Dealers. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. Nevertheless. I did what many novice novelists do. You couldn’t make it up. When flying around the country. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. clearly. The Marketing Code. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. I had never written fiction before. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. Marilyn Monroe. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). as they say. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. much less reading the wretched things. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. in effect. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. There was only one problem. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. If anything. My students. tongue-in-cheek. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. In my case. The antidote.5 Dead bodies abounded. One was the latest management bestseller. as a quirk of the Irish. and The Lost Logo. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes.

market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. chronology. It seemed like an interesting project and. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. Nowadays. The same is true of fiction. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. the kernel for the covering. as it gave me . Students. Crocs shoes. techniques and writing style of academia. However.). so too the reception of my novels was mixed. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. funnily enough. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. similarly. was that I tried to do too much. By far my biggest mistake. pacing. True. Red Bull energy drink. And quite a few of my later ones. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. action sequences especially. Like any learner. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. of William Golding. 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. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. Ditto my fiction. I suppose. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. if truth be told. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. The whole process. say. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. Essentially. full stop. Yes. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. etc. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. though. consumer behaviour. My original intention was to leave things there. characterisation and more besides. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. 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. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. never mind bring them all together successfully. However.In retrospect.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. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. Stork margarine. My intention was to tap into the narrative turn in management thinking while building upon the fable/fairytale foundations that had produced the management bestsellers I alluded to in the Foreword.

he commanded. mashups are digital medleys. In the visual arts. What’s more. computer applications et al. In the literary world. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. the breakup of rock band Oasis. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. the reader. bits of bytes brought together as books. Canterbury Tales. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. In television. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” . if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. I mean. meanwhile. not unlike those in the Decameron. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. Rob cut through the crap. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. My brilliant publisher. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. et al. Pom Somkabcharti. the way I did before. Rob Williams. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. In this case. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. are exemplary media mashups. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. car parking in Tel Aviv. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. videos. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Let the brand characters be characters. 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”. Arabian Nights. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite.7 In music. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. In movies. admittedly. songs. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. The Penguin’s Progress was born. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. Stop writing parodies. wasn’t impressed. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. Bring the brands to life. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. Whistler. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers).

But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. she’s Borden born and bred. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. Brand characters are trademarked. There’s an elephant in the room. Pattern Recognition. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. True. between the covers of glossy magazines. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. though a hardline.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. That said. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. however.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. which features more than 3. on roadside billboards. 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. That elephant is called copyright. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. in the main. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. consumer response has been highly favourable. What’s more. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. let alone Red Lobster. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. As one commentator ruefully observes: . free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. their copyrights. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. Indeed. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. for certain consumers at any rate. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. their intellectual property. In a shared narrative space. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. of late. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. Charlie the Tuna. Ask any counterfeiter. Jennifer Government. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. fan fiction. among others). Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies.

professional sports teams. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. and. Any criticism. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. my incredible family – Linda. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. original. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. . The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. And yet. however. the dreadful how-to tome. We seek to empower kingdoms. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. To normal human beings. but the conventional marketing textbook. the author. who was a notorious borrower. except for the lawyers. the genius screenwriter. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. though. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. For one thing. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. This attempt may not be successful. 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. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. Alun Richards. Rob Williams. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. As if.10 I can’t deny. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. The Bedside Book of Beasts. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. their teeth and genital organs. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. I grant you. nations. unconventional ways. bears or tigers.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. TPP is an attempt to do just that. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. As a critic by inclination. then we may all. Just think of Handel. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. the “Faber Fellowship”. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. 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. we pulverise their livers and bones. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. the standard academic article. should be directed at me. It does so with satirical intent. live to regret it. As pastoralists and sport hunters. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. That’s their prerogative. hawks or eagles. Madison. last but not least. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas.

See Stephen Brown. New York. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. Don’t all rush at once. 2. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. experiment and belief. Both. in what seems to be a search . It’s very widely cited. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. and body-parts from the earliest of times. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. pp. or a deceptive mixture of the two. As with all symbolic representations. are available in his excellent anthology. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. computer games and videography. You glutton for punishment. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. 209-238. 4. 2005).com (Fourth Estate. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. My only defence is that. or scavengers. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. you! If you have any comments on the novel. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. 2004. Marketing Theory 4 (3). 2002). and Christ the Lion of Judah. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. Notes and References 1. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. London. for example. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. bears are renowned spirit guides. helpful or destructive.sfxbrown. Thank you for reading this far. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. such as iPhone apps. and the ancestors of humanity. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. 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. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers.Mike Daisey. I’m acutely conscious that. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. 7. as a card-carrying academic. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. This may well be so. incidentally. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. pp. 6. 3. Among northern peoples. Yes. Speaking personally. mine has been reasonably productive.feathers. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. 9899. 5. The younger generations are prepared to read. whose art takes from then and now. As a group. Still available from all good charity shops. However. scientific and irrational. 1986). compared to some mid-life crises. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. we need to explore other platforms. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. from Claude and the comic book.

. 6-7). 9. Loftus. p. 2010. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. 19 (1). The Sunday Times. 5 June. Sunday 25 April. check out Lawrence Lessig. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. 2005) and his more recent polemic. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. The Observer. London. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. pp. London. 2008).for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. 2002. Braun. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. Psychology and Marketing. 2010). 2009). On the on-going copyright debate. pp. 10. New York. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. Kathryn A. Chicago. 1-23. Culture Magazine. 2010. John Naughton. “Entering a whole new head space”. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. 2008). London. 8. 21.

the Vlasic stork. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Johnny English. J. Captain Birdseye. not entirely. 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. whether it be A Bathing Ape. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Nipper. After trawling through sock puppet. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. the Gold Blend couple. the Vodaphone pug. Cheeka. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). such as Hello Kitty. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. all told. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. the Hofmeister beer bear. Uncle Ben. Pillsbury Doughboy. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. 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. Joe Isuzu. Anthropomorphically speaking. the Burger King. many more. We know a lot about ourselves. the Coppertone Girl.1 Well. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Colonel Saunders. Fido Dido. or the Noid. assorted Scottish Widows and many. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. 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. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. a shades-wearing. Most of these mentions. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). Crazy Eddy. Morris the Cat. my dataset comprised 1. the HMV dog. the Bon Ami . the Mytag repair man. Ronald McDonald. this is as it should be because “We are people.R. are made in passing. Veritably Clean. Hartley. Bertie Bassett.151 individual entries. perhaps inevitably. the Pets. the Bisto family. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Aunt Jemima. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. the Michelin Man. Elsie. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Howard Brown. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. the Borden cow.2 It follows. Of this total. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. moreover. the Morton Salt Girl. Julius Pringles.

Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. 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. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. Dove deodorant. Shell petrol. no less). Le Coq Sportif. albeit butterflies. dolphins. owls impart wisdom.g. Broadly speaking. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. The first of these involves national animals. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Woodpecker cider. the Aflac duck. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Penguin books. India of elephants and so forth. anthropomorphic mobile phones. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. eagles and horses are popular in America. Chiquita Banana. Toilet Duck. the Dodge ram.3 A secular trend is evident too. furthermore. Mr Peanut. Aliens. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. France is fond of roosters. fireflies and. bring up the rear. The match model is characterised by congruence. ladybirds. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). unsurprisingly. freedom. Australia of kangaroos. Jaguar cars. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. cuckoos cause trouble. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. multiply. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. the Calvin Klein polo pony. caterpillars. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. mix. Tom Tomato). In addition to the overall pattern. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. Cap’n Crunch cereal. fecundity. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. Cobra beer. Mr Kipling cakes. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. vegetables and plants (e. Puma sportswear. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. Crocs shoes. the Lacoste crocodile. mystify. as are personified fruits. turtles and lizards. South Africa of springboks. the and Bell Canada beavers. the Monster.chickens. Californian Raisins. More recently. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). Birds. when the space race. spiders. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. Kangaroos sneakers. for instance. Wild animals are rather less popular. Camel cigarettes. In some cases. Insects. thanks to Steven Spielberg. whereby the brand name. needless to say. Mr Clean. etc). Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. As you might expect. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. storks bring children. seahorses. Betty Crocker. perhaps surprisingly. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). However. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. whales. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. This is very much in keeping .

black. which seems to get bigger with every passing year).4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. the 9Lives spokescat. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. rarely go off the rails and. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. the Airwick ostrich. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. believe me). the Trix rabbit. the HMV dog. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. At one stage. is perhaps the . the Hush Puppies basset hound. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. glowering. fire-breathing dog with six legs. Nipper. Since 1994. 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. Geoffrey. except that they work for free. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. Morris. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. Larabee.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. Leo.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. animal mascots are not immortal. similarly. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. basically speak on behalf of the brand. whose name you’ll never ever guess. don’t complain. the Toys R Us giraffe. Chester. the Kool cigarettes penguin. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. the MGM lion. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. Maturity is marked by multiplication. the Lacoste crocodile. by contrast. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. That said. Willie. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. the penguin. but the mystify strategy is something else again. though. the Cheetos cheetah. The fourth stage. the Budweiser Clydesdales. the belief that if one critter is good. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. Beauregard. In effect. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. way back when. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. all things considered. Multiply. each with their own colourful personality. indeed. begat Chipper. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. Congenital critter creep is one thing. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. There are currently six M&M spokescandies.

gender. so too today’s terrorist outrages. their “natures”. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. the same is not true of animals. nevertheless. etc. like death. animals remain fair game. continue to be caricatured and vilified. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. wise owls. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. 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. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. stupid cows. more childlike. etc. 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. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2.most fascinating of all. more cuddly. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. Pace Goya. sly foxes. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. In this regard. 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. True. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). their personalities. The brand character. religion. more cherubic. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. age. gets younger. 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. promiscuous rabbits etc. Le Penguin notwithstanding. cheeky monkeys. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels.6 Be that as it may. In general terms. social class. uncertainty and rapid technological change.7 Whatever else is . the sleep of reason produces mascots. if anything. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. Their characters. sexual orientation. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music.0 – cf. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. perhaps the most important factor behind the fantastic future for brand characters in all their furry finny feathery finery is the fact that it is still permissible to stereotype animal species. which increases opportunities to view. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits.

p. . and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. [original 1962]. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. about our great economic cataclysm. Stewart Guthrie. at any rate. accessed 4 May 2010. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. 2009. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. 89) explains. New York. Totemism.rollingstone. London. www. The more things change in western capitalism. phoenixes. trans. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. 89). pp. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. xi. 30-36. 4. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. in years to come. 2. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. 5. Cambridge. Oxford. p. 2000). however. Lovejoy. London. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. 2009). Matt Taibbi. Claude Lévi-Strauss. If you want to suffer further. 129. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). far less hardy. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6.8 Notes and References 1. check out Stephen Brown. Gould. 1964. incidentally. more submissive. 2004).said. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. griffins. Note. 2001). It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. 1995). 88 (1). 1936). Stephen J. Cambridge. Natural History. BTW. The sum effect is arrested development. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. “The great American bubble machine”.This worldview. 1979. 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. 7. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. My database. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Pegasus and so on). London. many of which can fly ( 3. 8. p. C’est la vie. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. Tony the Tiger’s only son. p. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. Anthropomorphically. 13 July. the more things stay the same.

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