The Penguin’s Progress

:
A Mashup for Managers

by

Stephen Brown

In Loving Memory

Isobel Brown (1919-2008)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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. They were there for the duration. Right now.. Never was. Thinking quickly.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Smiling benevolently. They’d walked into a trap. He’s not here. Kipling’s a come-on. Their accommodation was waiting for them.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. .cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Get out. Crocker’s a…c.

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

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

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

Ordinarily. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. . a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. He should have known better than to tempt fate. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. he sensed that Bassett was serious. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. However. Anything to make the memory go away. He soon would. Although he was still alive. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather.

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

today’s multi-tasking. though. 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. the bears who come equipped. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. All things considered. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. Some students were blown away. Some time ago. We begin with a little bit of backstory. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. Jaguar’s jaguar. the students hated Levitt’s essay. petroleum. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. the case studies in the original – railroads. and. short.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. I conceded. Bears with guns. I fully expected the students to respond positively. a sure fire cure for insomnia. admittedly. Puma’s puma.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. Aflac duck. I cast around for excuses. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. I didn’t get round to most of them. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. 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.armed bears. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). I mused. Granted. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. They found it dull. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. boring. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. But. interestingly. favourably. hey. 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. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. enthusiastically. Slazenger’s panther or Chester.3 Taken aback by this reaction. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. it pains me to report.2 Much to my surprise. I made a start on several others. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. Maybe. I mean. I surmised. Maybe. bombastic and. Maybe. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. such as Hello Kitty. Howard Brown. moreover. the Burger King. the Hofmeister beer bear. Of this total. Colonel Saunders. the Gold Blend couple. Joe Isuzu. many more. the Morton Salt Girl. Julius Pringles.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. 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. Morris the Cat. Anthropomorphically speaking. Crazy Eddy. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Hartley. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). Most of these mentions. the Borden cow. 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. Bertie Bassett.1 Well. the Bisto family. whether it be A Bathing Ape.com sock puppet. or the Noid. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Fido Dido. the Pets. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. Veritably Clean. the Vlasic stork. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research.R. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. assorted Scottish Widows and many. my dataset comprised 1. Cheeka.151 individual entries. the HMV dog. Ronald McDonald. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. the Vodaphone pug. J. Pillsbury Doughboy. the Michelin Man. not entirely. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Elsie. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. Captain Birdseye. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. the Bon Ami .2 It follows. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. Nipper. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. We know a lot about ourselves. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. Johnny English. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). the Mytag repair man. a shades-wearing. perhaps inevitably. the Coppertone Girl. Uncle Ben. After trawling through websites. are made in passing. this is as it should be because “We are people. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. Aunt Jemima. all told.

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

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

Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. more childlike. True. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. the sleep of reason produces mascots. religion.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. more cherubic. The brand character. In this regard. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. stupid cows. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). cheeky monkeys. sexual orientation. uncertainty and rapid technological change. 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. promiscuous rabbits etc. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. Their characters. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. Pace Goya. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. wise owls. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. 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. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. age. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). etc. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us.most fascinating of all. sly foxes. their “natures”. continue to be caricatured and vilified. etc. social class. 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. like death. gender. animals remain fair game. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. so too today’s terrorist outrages. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details.0 – cf. 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. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. which increases opportunities to view. Le Penguin notwithstanding. the same is not true of animals. In general terms. if anything. more cuddly. nevertheless.7 Whatever else is . and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2.6 Be that as it may. 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. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. their personalities. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. gets younger. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”.

1964. 2000). BTW. 30-36. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. Stephen J. at any rate. C’est la vie. p. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. in years to come. Cambridge. 2004). pp. trans. 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. the more things stay the same. London.com. Pegasus and so on).rollingstone. p. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). 4. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Tony the Tiger’s only son. is brilliantly described in Arthur O.8 Notes and References 1. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. Gould. Lovejoy. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. www. London. Natural History.said. 2009. p. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. The more things change in western capitalism. p. xi. 1995). however. My database. 13 July. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. more submissive. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. 2001). 7. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. Anthropomorphically. Oxford. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. New York. accessed 4 May 2010. 2. “The great American bubble machine”. 1979. Note. London. many of which can fly (dragons. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. [original 1962]. . incidentally. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. 89) explains. The sum effect is arrested development. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. Stewart Guthrie. If you want to suffer further. Cambridge. 129. 5. Claude Lévi-Strauss. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. far less hardy. 89). and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. Totemism. 3. about our great economic cataclysm. Matt Taibbi. griffins. 88 (1). check out Stephen Brown. 2009). 8. 1936). includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total).This worldview. phoenixes.

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