The Penguin’s Progress
A Mashup for Managers
In Loving Memory
Isobel Brown (1919-2008)
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead
Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding
. Tony.Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony.
is a universal trait. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. the constellations in the heavens.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. 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. Anthropomorphism. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. There’s one thing I do know for certain. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. Apuleius. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. 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”. pig. Chicago Bears. It is ancient and ineradicable. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. presumably. How he got in my pyjamas. like Tony the Tiger. We’re anthropomanes. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie.Animal Crackers
A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers
One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. I don’t know. A great mascot. however. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. Sydney Swans). Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. They are the embodiment of the brand. 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”. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. dance steps
. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos.and duck-tails). as are our haircuts (pony-. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. —Groucho Marx
On 19 May 2010. one and all. The totem poles of native Americans. Andersen and Adams.1 Twenty years hence.
fat cats. its ubiquity is not in doubt. Needless to say. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. with brains. big hairy audacious goals. cheese moving mice. bunny hop. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. black swans. 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.3 For some. dead dogs. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters. breathing. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. furthermore. storytelling squirrels and so forth. it is a developmental trait. consciousness. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. for example). graphic novels (Maus. cash cows. If anything. welfare. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. Angry Birds). dancing elephants. associated with childhood in particular. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. Fables. hidden hands.5 What’s more. long tails. find that this is much easier said than done. animal spirits. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. limbs and the like. which considers our earth to be a living. hearts. emotions. Far Side.9 Business organisations. self-
. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. men on the moon. are routinely regarded as organisms.(foxtrot. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. orbiting hairballs.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. cartoon strips (Peanuts. 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. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. lungs. apes in the corner office. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. Fred Basset). hive minds. because it is in our best interest to do so. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. It helps us identify potential predators. SimAnimal. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds.6 Even natural scientists. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. tarantella). Getting it right means survival. computer games (EyePet. Ninja Turtles). Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. For others. getting ducks in a row.
is “alive inside”. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. It’s a work. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. is to educate as well as entertain. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent.10 Indeed. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. Meanwhile. say. Its ultimate aim. Squirrel Inc. There are lots of books about brands and branding. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic.regulating entity. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. Black Beauty. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. much to the relief of consumers. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. Brer Rabbit. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness.11 Viewed in this context. both tearful and terrifying. flourish and fight for the right to party. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. Watership Down. 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. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. Or. the legendary American adman. forage. to be more precise. flirt. managers and would-be marketing managers. albeit a Shrek with advertising characters like Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog instead of fairytale characters such as the Gingerbread Man and Three Little Pigs. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. As such. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. moreover. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. Undergraduate students especially. after a fashion. Wind in the Willows. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. Guinness.13 This is a book about brand mascots. Winnie-the-Pooh. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. much less White Fang. albeit a venerable and highly visible one.
. much as I hate the neologism. But many of them lack pizzaz. insofar as it features a secondary world. Who Moved My Cheese?. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. The Way of the Rat. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. However. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. of edutainment for marketers.
becoming the embodiment. however. It is also true of principles. of antipathy. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. the epitome. The fifth P. are inherently conservative (raving fans. if one makes a move (new feature. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. The theories. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. of out-and-out obstinacy. by and large. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. Persuasion is the key word here. The best loved brands. better yet. long before customers feel that way. it is matched forthwith. new offer. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. They don’t need more of anything. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. All the way to Clone City. Hopefully. new platform. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. is quintessence. all of which are functionally equivalent. shake things up and refresh the brand. though. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. Managers feel the need to make changes. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. Worse. The go-to brand. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. frankly. Products and services do not sell themselves. the exemplification of that niche. They increase output. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. Less is Sore. like the fifth element. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. in short. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. they are prone to the next big thing thing. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. not to say a “take-away” or two. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. persuaded. In a world of identikit products and services. To Thy Own Brand Be True. however. they extend the range. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. The Next Big Thing Thing. facts and more facts. The Customer is Always Right Wing.15 The Fifth P is a Q.14 I’m conscious. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. for fear of being left behind. new product. then. cajoled. They have to be convinced. have been around for a very long time. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. Consumers. Just for you. new whatever). The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. they
. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. Action-minded by inclination. prosumers. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. hive minds and what have you. especially so).As a storyteller. though. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. in the mass. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises.
“How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. Donald Duck). though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. Reduced availability increases desire. 2010. “reification”. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. Richard the Lionheart). Thomas the Tank Engine). However. 2010
Notes and References 1. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. Zoomorphism is the opposite. “Crocodile” Dundee. Campaign. likewise. 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. 31. free gifts. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. Childishness. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. 4. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. for instance). 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. there’s one other issue. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle.
. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. 2. 23 May. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. 4 June. Strictly speaking. 3. p.make the products more readily available. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. Thumper. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. the brand may benefit in the long term. nostalgia-prone world. see Matt Williams. is not to be sneezed at. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. targeting the child within is no bad thing. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. “Money”. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. But don’t take my word for it. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. Oh yeah. p. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. The Observer. as academics like me are inclined to do. Christine. Dumbo. as was the dismayed £ sign. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. 2010.
Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. Journal of Consumer Research. 13.
. “If you want to survive. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. London. Kennedy. 215). “Smarter than you think”. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. BTW. the character may well go global in due course. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. Incidentally. 2005). New York. 14. stories are on the up and up. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. 1993). Cambridge. 15. London. p. soporific and so forth. They fail to appreciate that conflict. 19. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. 2010. 2008) and Tony Thorne. 1998. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. 11. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. 23 May. p. Naturally. 1992). Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. 24 (3). Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. Oxford. This book. They are bland at best and boring at worst. it’s not completely inaccurate either. updated edition (Sage. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. 8.4. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. Gareth Morgan. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. London. John Berger. See. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. According to Morgan Trimble. insipid. Needless to say. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. 12. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. It’s full of animal errors. nevertheless. 343-373. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. by all accounts. 2007). 17 January. pp. 9. 7. 5. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. 10. 2006). The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. The Sunday Times. 2010. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. don’t be ugly…be cute”. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. 2009). Lions. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. 14. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. 6. The companies acts. Richard Conniff. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. 2005). The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. “Scientists are people too. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. the key statement is John S. The Observer. 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. London. are second to none. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. for example. London. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. Images of Organization.
The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. etc. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. sugar and so on). salt.
. though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. bottled water. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol.16.).
The Penguin’s Progress
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel
“Seriously. “It’s a Silo & Roy. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. Bella Adélie shook her head. berets. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. The S&R logo. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. hot to trot.” she said. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. what do you think? Am I way cool. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. Pounds too.” Exasperated. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. for one. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. one-piece costumes. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. “I’m not sure pink suits you.” Paris pouted. The fad started innocently enough. “Pelican pink is so this season. figure-hugging.” The tease worked.Chapter One
Where the Wild Brands Are
“Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. a joint venture with Versace. Fashion. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. Not only were they completely unnecessary. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. She twisted and turned. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. beakaplasty. gloves. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. Silo and Roy. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. was almost as well known as
. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. Paris. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. She had more important things on her mind. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. She needn’t have bothered. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. bending this way and that. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. “Hmmm. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. struggling to keep her face straight. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. you know.
and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. she twirled. darling. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. An egomaniac. kicked up a heel. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal.” Bella replied lightly.” Bella mumbled. whirled. admiring her outfit.” Paris stuttered. It’s delish. For all her selfabsorption. But Bella knew better. I’m lovin it. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. You should try some of this. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. some said. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. A sob stuck in her crop. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. The sea was calm. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. others contended. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. simpered. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. yet others complained. Consequently. iPods to dolphins. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. you should be more careful. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. and share a McFlurry with the great man. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. Mmmmm. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. Paris. the temperature hovered around freezing. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. a spoiled rich kid. smiled. the sky was blue. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. in truth. the wind was light.” Paris warned. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. Bella. Bella.” She said it without thinking. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or
. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. which was tantamount to tropical. “Mmmmm. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach.Armani’s stylised eagle. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. crunchy crustaceans. “With your genes. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. as she so often did.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. Or several. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. She adored McDonald’s. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. “I’m sorry. she was a bit roomy at the rear.
her uniqueness. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. “Get this down your gullet. Okay. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. But Paris declined. admittedly. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. On the contrary. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. She did. starve now. black and more black. much better than black. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. Bella. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. Cerise was chichi. Clearly.” “Oh goodie. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. posing provocatively. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. her gene pool. 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.asked. Watch my walk and tell me what you think.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. You’re coming with me to the food court. if she was related to a leopard seal.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. flipper on hip.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. sniggering. bar none. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. They looked delicious. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. I trust. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. like hedge-hopping rainbows.” Bella commanded. Gastric band. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris. Paris wiped her eyes. “Come here immediately. Except that pink was now in. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. Paris. Darling. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. Brown was the new black. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. Paris. “Don’t be a silly billy. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. Casting next week.” Paris exploded with laughter. Be honest.” Bella said. fast later. “Here. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. I won’t take no for an answer. Right now. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. flicking open the Happy Meal container. surely you know that. in fact.” “What. where elephant seal pups frolicked. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. “No can do. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest. They’re making another Madagascar movie. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface.”
. Penguin porn degrades our species. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. A gift? Tiffany. “What do you reckon?” she called. “Okay. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. I’ve got something for you. Bella.
She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. “Tell you what. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. “Grrrrrrrr. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. Bella.“And the drastic gastric band. They’ve been performing since incubation. oblivious to the threat. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna.” “Well. apparently. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind.” the soon-to-be superstar said. tossed her up into the air. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway.” Bella shouted back. Grrrrr. “Grrr. I’ll be fine. never mind “this’ll do fine”. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere.” “No.” Filling up. just in case. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages. 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. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. “I always carry one. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams.” “Whatever you say. as anyone would. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines. hoping against hope that
. Paris hugged her mottled companion. as was the polar predator’s wont.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. Penguinapping is commonplace. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella.” Paris doth protest too much.” Bella knew very well. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. right?” “Le Tigre. Bella mused.” she said with an apologetic smirk. Her face was a frozen mask. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. you know how it is in showbiz. The role’s already in the bag. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. She turned to her companion on shore. Panic stricken. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. “It won’t take long. She knew that the part was hers. if not before. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me.” “Grrrr. maybe?” “Um.
Tearful. her designer pride and joy. Bloodstained. indeed. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. Bella took a closer look.
. bitten and bloody. Ripped. Aghast. There was no sign of life. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. Sodden. Bella wept. she fished the outfit out. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. A dismembered limb. To die for.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches.
belching. and emerged huffing and puffing. The sun was stronger. bellowing elephant seals. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. bands of blackfoots. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. onto its snow-strewn top. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. Blamed. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. perhaps. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. she clambered up the ice steps. overcome with grief. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. 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 clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. A microphone screeched. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the
. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. hushed. where she paused to catch her breath. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. What else could she do? It was her duty. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. expectant. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. With a heavy heart. Oddly. species and stripe. weeping all the while. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. more likely. Picking up speed as they descended. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. Reported to the penguin police force. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. Distraught. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. stumbled toward the shoreline. nevertheless. penguins of every imaginable breed. BrandLand was truly beautiful. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. the agglomeration was completely silent. In more ways than one.Chapter Two
The Pied Penguin
The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. like stones across a millpond. Gentoos. No parent. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. in the lee of the LG glacier. Stifling a sob. as everyone knows. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. clusters of chinstraps. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. the views were spectacular. There were knots of kings.
Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky.. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. bloated. Not now. the carefully clipped pelt. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. nodding their approval. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here. cheating layabouts. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. she had no alternative. 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. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. Until the crowd closed up. S&R. “Nice outfit. as the star took to the stage. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. double-dealing. Hesitantly. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such
. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. Her presence was not appreciated. His crest. Lookin’ good. blubbery macaroni. BrandLand. A few snooty royals turned to attack. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. Curiously. bitch.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. lying. husky or not. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby.multitudes. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. the sapphire-studded collar. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. who were no-good. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. Devils in disguise. Not never. though. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience.. Although she was well used to hostility. Her rate of progress improved immediately. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. some bristled their feathers. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. They couldn’t be trusted. “is Dr Dogeatdog. “This. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. As the long way round would have taken forever. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. It was magnificent.
bluster. ACME. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. blether. ACME. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long
. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. Penguins have saturated the market.” The uproar was indescribable. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. on account of the drastic economic recession. Over. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. Out. they’d be okay. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. Whatever happened. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. ACME. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet.” Dogeatdog reported. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. and that’s saying something. in other words. Penguins are out of fashion. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. “ACME. Out. The bubble of blarney. has concluded that a cull is called for.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. Shouts of “ACME. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. overstretched. Penguins have jumped the shark. to be precise. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. the worst in living memory. Worse was to come from the canine. Out.” Screeches of feedback. Out. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. Out. The penguin brand is overexposed. Worse. The kings kept their own council. ACME’s chief executive. A 10% cull. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. the legendary Mr Kipling. ACME. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. “Six weeks ago. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. however. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. ACME. oversold. Charlie the Tuna. Out. Emperors exploded in anger. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition.
if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate.” Ever the showman. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. a blessing in disguise. chinstraps and gentoos. We’ve cornered the mascot market. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. We’ve got to face facts. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. by far the most populous penguin species. he paused for effect. However. no penguin gain. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. It was a done deal. Why would there be?
. They know what needs to be done. his voice a low-throated rumble. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. Indeed. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%.” he began. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. He announced that his own macaronis. “the last few years have been good for us. No. “Fellow penguins. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. The decision is yours. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. He reported that the emperors.” Le Penguin croaked. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. No penguin pain.” 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. We’ve got to get back to basics. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. There were no dissenting voices. Good day to you all. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull.term. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. his raddled face set in serious mien.” The big screen went blank. The multitude fell silent once more. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. as the order’s most overexposed species. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. if the least high profile. “Brothers and sisters. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. No.
She had to warn them. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. was almost entirely frictionless. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. anything. it came pretty close. their marvellously mottled appearance. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. Bella was falling behind. On the contrary. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. pitch-black ice tunnel. they’d taken pride in their otherness. 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. Digging in her heels made no difference. Her parents were dead meat. The rookery nook. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. There was no time to waste. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. 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 well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. There was only one thing for it. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. The superslick surface. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead.Chapter Three
Bella’s first thought was for her parents. their difference. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. rockhoppers. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. Paris’s parents would have to wait. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. it was a death trap. with murder in mind. she closed
. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. breathing heavily. Bella jumped feet first into the void. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. Petrified. She had to do something. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. Bella stared into the chasm. however.
The wetsuit. Some nests were still warm. licking his lips. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. carooming. was ripped to shreds. she clambered over the rocky detritus. in the community’s communal crèche. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. yet with a mounting sense of dread. backing it into a corner. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. Fffft. skimming. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. panting with exhaustion. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. twitching. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. you slimy son of a sheathbill. She breathed a huge sigh of relief.”
. Ffft. Luckily. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. most likely. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. disturbed the eerie silence. They’d been taken away and taken out.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. Fffft. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. possibly. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. She screeched and tried to stop. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. A petrel. but a great divide in the path. close to her parents’ nest. Ffft. A dirty rotten rat. deserted. A crab. It stopped. She didn’t know which way to turn. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. Our Flipper. Then stopped. she advanced toward the creature. though. A large leopard seal loomed before her. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. “I’ve got you now. She opened her eyes fractionally. They’d been rounded up already. hunched behind a boulder. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. Excitedly. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. probably. Bella cried out. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. Anguished. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. Something was moving. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. it wasn’t a wall. Ffffft. Ffffffft. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. Then started again. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. It was completely devoid of life. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. And failed. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. Flippers fully extended.
I am the face of a price comparison website. you understand. but I am big in Britain and Russia and. dragging deeply. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year. Sleepy. you disgusting wetback. Not in a good way. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. elbow up – then casually blew a cloud of noxious smoke in the face of his would-be assailant. 32. My catchphrase is Simples. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit.” the penguin snarled. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. the proud possessor of 600. London’s over there somewhere. of course. Sleepy. Towering head and shoulders above her. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. a radio talk-show compère. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster.” he drawled. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression.000 Twitter followers and 3. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. You are feeling sleepy. “Sleepy. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. With a so-what show of indifference. Taken aback. I don’t know who you are.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. the slender-torsoed. “You. trying her best to appear menacing. my dear. Very. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. bless his cotton candy socks.” Bella was baffled. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge.” he sighed.000 Facebook friends.” “Simples?” “Simples. “Modesty forbids.” Bella was at a loss. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner.Astonishingly. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. “I haven’t finished with you yet.” “Oh. I think you have. We know a
. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. all things considered.” Orlov said.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. “How dare you address me like that. The Russian steppes are thataway.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. sharp-faced. Very. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. erect-eared. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube.” he drawled. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. at your service. “Aleksandr Orlov.6 million hits on my homepage.
They looked resolute.thing or two about hypnotism. As the only mottled penguin in residence. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. Hit singles. Two species are better than one. Enormous name recognition. he dropped off the grid. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. “Flat Eric. It’s a life-long learning. I’m looking for someone. Flippers on hips. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. she blocked his path.
. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. He looked around. However. “Sorry. The S&R wetsuit lay.” “I see. He knows the score. “I don’t think so. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. ripped and ragged. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. as if taking in the cave for the first time. Though I should perhaps warn you that a crowd of angry emperors is heading this way and they’re not renowned for their goodwill toward dappled animals.” he said. “since you put it like that. right beside the isabelline refuge.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. Advertising awards. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. “He was a sort of soft toy.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. 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. um. Nor did Orlov. avian classes. a sock puppet. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. she was first in line for the chop. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. “Suit yourself. We meerkats are social animals. They’re here. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. if you must know. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary.” “Mmmmm. Not so Simples now.” He winked. But I prefer not to mix with the. Flat Eric’s been there. meerkat. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads.” With a glottal gabble. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. not to say subliminal advertising. “Too late.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. “Simples. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding.” Bella started to step aside.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. where she’d left it. “Well. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. perhaps we could pool our resources. much less dun-coloured rodents.” He made to go. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.” But Bella beat him to it.” Bella shook her head.
“Let’s go. clawing like crazy. She struggled to keep up. scurrying. I can’t believe it’s not butter. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery.
. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. stab. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. The old enmities are behind us. Every second was precious. tear.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. suspecting a trap. uncompromising. searching for the ice.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. who stopped again. She could hear them discussing their strategy.and snow-filled shaft. as he excavated ever-faster. They paused at the mouth of the cave. which stood them in good stead on glaciers.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. he was off. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. adélies are much more petite than emperors. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. Indomitable. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. There’s still a bit of discrimination. “Meerkats. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. And bickering amongst themselves.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. “Well.Chapter Four
The Axe Man Cometh
The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. blocking out the bright sunlight. Bella snuggled in behind him and. but nothing like it used to be. Their bulk. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. Bella shook her head. ever-upward. they said. you flat-footed fool. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. Orlov seized the moment. don’t you know. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. determined. There was no escape. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. There was no way those monsters could follow. We didn’t think we needed it any more. scampering. although the fit was tight. mercifully.
Gallantly. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. “dandies discard. “When danger calls. digging. The snow squeaked as they walked. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. sometime in the middle of April. but ACME is not on my agenda. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. “Oh.” Bella snorted. Orlov scampered alongside. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. I’ll accompany you for a little while. frankly. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. “Sundown?” she scoffed. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. allegedly. Their feet sank in with a hiss. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. through the worst of the winter. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. blocking her path.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. Simples. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. body doubles. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. darting back. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. not a penguin. Orlov just kept digging. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. You have a lot in common. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. digging. my dear. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft.” Agitated. Or earshot. then it’s midnight through September. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into
. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging.” he observed. claymation models. The thin crust gave way from time to time. The man’s a slave driver. They never let anyone forget it. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. They march for months on end. you know. if you’ve had enough for one day. not a skua. not a shearwater in sight. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. apparently. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. even more gallantly. “The rookery’s thataway. Orlov said nothing. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. However. My routine is sacrosanct. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. “Forgive me. It must be adhered to rigorously. They’re famous for it. You’ll have a lot to talk about. though. dashing forward.” Chastened for the moment.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. Stand-ins. “Impossible. Pity. They’re big girl’s blouses. dropping down on all fours. digging. The reshoots were ridiculous. The place was deserted. They had a lot of reshoots too. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. he spluttered. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair.” With a heavy sigh. He fell into step beside Bella. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. Enjoy the twilight while you can. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee.
perhaps. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. Do you believe me now.” he purred. sleepy. “I told you I could do it. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal.” Orlov inveigled. Smaller than a snow leopard. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. preventing further progress. On me. Bounding towards them at top speed. “Louis the Lynx. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. pointing into the distance. A wild cat. so far from home. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. Minxes and lynxes
. He rose up on his hind legs. still with snow under the nails. that’s what you are.” Louis meowed throatily. “It was because it didn’t work. Chins tucked in. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. I think you’re my kind of penguin.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism.” “The simples minded.” “My paws were cold. You’re a minx. “Explain yourself. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. It was feline.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe.” Bella said. Astounded. Let’s wake him. “Maybe he knows where ACME is.” She made to move on. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. I’m out of here. It works on everyone. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. A black dot was coming towards them. apart from a slight headache. at your service. that is. “Yes. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. Let me know how you get on. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. Bravely. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. Smirking. fast asleep. they ploughed on. Orlov stopped suddenly. “What’s that?” he said. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. But you didn’t believe me. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home.” Bella apologised. the meerkat refused to budge. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. “I like a bird with spirit. You mocked the master. snoring loudly. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. bigger than a mangy moggy. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. “The bear is completely under my power. Poleaxed.
were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”
“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”
Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales
Orlov lit up. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. he was a busted flush. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals.territories. When you put it like that. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. so selling to them is the next natural step. putting poor critters down. my dear boy. “Correct. You test the things on animals. “Anthropomorphism. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. Lurchers. Anything before B he was unbeatable. advertising. I read Wikipedia incessantly.” Louis mused. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. Louis asked. with a grin. as Neolithic cave art attests. I can see the campaign now. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. red. desire. A sexy smelly shampoo. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. the bigger and nastier the better. Anything after. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe.” Louis chuckled. Ask yourself. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. “don’t knock it. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. We’re built on a bubble of belief. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. Even his chortle was charming. But she wasn’t quick enough. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. lions that sing show tunes. crows that crack jokes.” Orlov smiled. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home.” “Hey. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. don’t you. moreover. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas.” Orlov boasted.
. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. adélies. “How come you know so much about marketing. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. They make movies about mice that speak. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. not that there’s much else to admire. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. a brand in a highly competitive market. anyhow?” “Simples. moreover.” Bella quipped. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white.” “Hmmmm. Louis laughed out loud. Lhasa Apsos and the like. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. sensing a stay of Axecution. hope.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. Plus. wildlife programmes in particular. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. extermination. since Axe carries connotations of execution. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits.
” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. His eyesight is not what it was. Bella felt sleepy. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic.” Orlov said testily. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. Bella wondered. Their shelter. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. Has been for years and years. With an almighty roar. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. she wondered. I wanted to rouse it. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. Mmmmm. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. “Actually. well.” The group descended into grumpy silence. understandably. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. Or Freudian psychosis. cruel culling. Eyes drooping. She tried to resist. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. though. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. Feathers?
. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. Or a meow meow overdose. 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. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. scratching occasionally.” he said. He’s not best pleased. “it was all a mistake. You tried to run off. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. The earth quaked. the moraine started moving. A joint venture. I couldn’t shake him off. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Penguins pong pretty bad. she looked around. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. Bella and Louis said nothing. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations.” Orlov observed dryly. anteaters and analogous A-team animals.” Louis was at a loss. “Yes. What wild accusations. Louis.What do they put into their toiletries. the hillock erupted. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about.” “You suggested no such thing. perhaps. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. like a karaoke Krakatoa. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. He thinks I’m the fox. the Romanovs.
building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. Flipper. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. as for Andersen. Unscented. Everyone knows zat. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. no less. flapped them vigorously. “I am Roc. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. “Zat is so.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. “Zat I can. Bella chanced her arm.” “Zat I am. with poststructuralist precision. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. Not only were they getting somewhere.” Louis said. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie. rather. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days.” the creature conceded. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador.” “So. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. with a smirk. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. “Three wishes. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. Zis
. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. if it’s not out of your way. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics. isn’t it?” he said. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. face creams. “Well.” “No. uh. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. 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. “We have three wishes.” Gallic to its wingtips. none of which are tested on ze animals.” “Zat is impossible. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. as well as Aesop. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories.” Orlov insisted. while hopping from foot to foot. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. it isn’t. they might even end up where they wanted to be.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD.” Bristling. “Zis is not BrandLand. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. Lord of ze skies. “How far can you take us. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. Ally of Aladdin.” the Roc crowed. Companion to Marco Polo. He knew his Ali Baba too and.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. “But this is BrandLand.” Bella added. “SoHo. Having watched the negotiations in silence. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. s’il vous plait. Encouraged. Hans Christian. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge.
” he sniffed.” “D’Accord. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding. a contiguous territory. “We’ll make our own way from there.”
. “is Adarctica.” Orlov commanded. as yet untouched by civilisation. Zis.is a mere dominion.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all.
the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. Having read up on aeronautics. he knew there was nothing to fear. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. With a low rumble of discontent. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. in all its magnificence. eventually. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. Wings fully extended. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations.” Louis said. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. A driving tail wind. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. then invited the threesome to mount. taking in the scene. as her mother often observed. BrandLand. And we’re not talking Dumbos. And then some.
. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. Many hours later. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. sat calmly. “If it offers us a choice of seating. snow-capped mountain ranges. lay spread-eagled beneath them. The meerkat glared at him. Isabellines can’t be choosers. Beckoning. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. never mind jumbo jets. Within a few minutes. it flapped once or twice. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. by contrast.Chapter Six
“Be careful. lake-dappled lowland. inviting. They dismounted shakily. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. as its tagline proclaimed. into the eye of the snowstorm. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights.” “According to ancient myth and legend. rising thermals. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. the trio was taken by the scenic route. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. heading north. captivating. don’t travel claw class. the bird-borne party was above the storm. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. with a disbelieving look. Far from being dropped from a very great height. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. Back-beating furiously. aerobatics.” “Yeah. Clinging on for grim life. Orlov. and advertisers don’t either. The storm-tossed. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. then took off vertically.
took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. My contract is complete. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region.” “Can’t you count. pronto.” “This isn’t a theme park. find ACME ASAP. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district.” the big bird boomed. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. We’ve only had one wish. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. and make Mr Kipling see sense. USA. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. 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. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man.
. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. In the far distance. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. “A word of advice. Our task is to get to Madhattan. We might learn much from big biomass brands. “Steer clear of ze jungle. we might learn much along the way. surely. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. “What do you mean wishes? Wish.” With that. disconcertingly. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. “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. The Roc refused to elaborate. One wish per passenger. Be veri. reportedly.An acknowledged expert in domain names. Pop and similar elfish creatures. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. veri careful. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. directly ahead. The threesome looked up expectantly.” Louis enthused. PDQ. then took to the air.” Conciliatory though it was. “Am I free to go. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. the stomping ground of Snap.” Bella snapped. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. wondering which territory to try first. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. Crackle. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone.” Orlov. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. “And we’re not on vacation. We’ve two more to play with. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. the local authority. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. swirling. the Lacoste crocodile. penguin.” the Roc said disdainfully.” it said. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino.
arrogance and absence of brand sense. cedar. “Hands that do dishes”. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. Bella stumbled on several occasions. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. a frisky Ferrari broke free. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. “Only the crumbliest. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. But when she crested the rise. Louis scampered after her. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. tussock-strewn. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. Perplexed. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. Bella left them to it. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. Orlov. steaming waterfalls. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. Bella recognised some of the tunes. joined the others on their high country hike. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna.“The nerve of it. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places.” A row erupted. Jingles rather. Dangerous though it was. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Each accused the other of ignorance. after being frozen in flight. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland.
. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. though. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams.” the meerkat said. making a vast grassy corral. stream-silvered dell lay below her.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously.” “Cardboard cut-outs. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. flakiest chocolate”. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. A blissful. the My Little Pony palominos. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. Especially for a penguin. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. That’s what Paris once told me. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. And that’s her smiling flock. The air was noticeably warmer here. larch and juniper. She badly needed a breather. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. Every so often. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. “I may be mistaken. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. you twat. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. plaidshirted. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps.” Bella muttered. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. like an Alpine Shangri-la. birch-fringed. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. she was too astounded to rest. interspersed with red-berried rowans. “A Mars a day”.
” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. as were her awe-struck associates. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. the bracing air. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. It bespoke Big Country. Big Flavour. Bella was buying. Generously. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. wide west. they’re not axe-murderers. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. Duke’s voice was deep. an urban cess pit was their priority. not when there’s a lariat to hand. “Village people?” Louis echoed.” The older cowboy. The advertising icon was bemused. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. Big Sky. “Don’t worry. “At your service. with an anxious expression. He had heard of ACME. was impressed. but paid city slickers no heed. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. I presume. where the village people would point them in the right direction. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. Agog. Even Orlov. Big Emphysema. ma’am. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. where men are men. “Mr Marlboro. Welcome to God’s own country. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. let alone love. Much as the trio loved the mountains. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. with only cows and cowpokes for company. The bad folks don’t call me at all. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. Whatever he was selling. no siree. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. Big Brand Equity. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. The legend introduced his pardner. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched.She signalled for the others to join her. son. of course. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler.”
. sonorous and compelling. There was no need to explain. Big Satisfaction. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. Apart from an occasional wheeze. Bella opted for a formal greeting. tilted back his hat and grinned. The good folks around here call me Duke. the wide.
Sure of a Big Surprise
Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as
. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. As the party progressed down dale.Chapter Seven
Farewell to Farms
For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. “Yes. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. 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. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. And as for “In the Navy”. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. But the tat was an accident. Louis might have agreed with the rodent.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation. Modest to a fault. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. traffic cops. the Bon Ami chicken. on account of the filter tip. plus several infuriating false starts. If they started up “Macho Man”. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. of all things. never will. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. As things stood. “Though if anyone asks. as did the manicured fields. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. might be more than even he could handle. 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.” In ordinary circumstances. It was originally targeted at female smokers. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. of all things. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties.” Orlov stage whispered. A camp camp containing red Indians. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. After a fraught brainstorming session. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. Marlboro Country was invented and. round rivulet and through thicket. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. “Never had. he’d join in the chorus. the cowboy archetype was adopted. The rest is history.
Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. However. Then. “What a guy. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. wide and handsome cognates.” Bella sighed. redundantly. 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. Ar-har. A pretty parish church. garden path. it added. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. garden hoses.. abandoning lawnmowers. “Wonder what’s eating them. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. which looked the worse for wear. a time-worn market cross. where Aflac ducks.the Anchor butter cows. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché.” Louis observed. the Bull Durham bull. mounting up. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. overhanging eves. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. with the Kid by his side. wished them well in their quest for ACME. He had a peri-peri in every port. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. edge trimmers. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. saloon bars. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. Coors Country and their high. arhar. pruning shears. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple.” Bella said wryly. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. as the company advanced into Hamlet.. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. the Bisto gravy family. watering cans. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. Hamlet half a mile. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. to Louis’s annoyance. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. Smelt of chewing tobacco. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. He glared at his feline acquaintance. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. “Hmmph. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. Swan matches and
. it said. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. the everenergetic Red Bull.
There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. “And you must be Maurice. Clarence. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere.” The tea folk tittered. A line of local yokels. a peppery little man with a self-important air. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar.” she concluded triumphantly. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. “You’re Gordon. they followed him into the homely hostelry. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. “We prefer to work with Clubs. or whatever it is they do down there. “You must be Gaffer. as sheepish grins started to appear. old chap. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. The usual array of barroom grotesques. a firkin of gassy French lager. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar.” she went on. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand.” the curmudgeon grunted. stepped forward. “are Sydney. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. The place was deserted. if there’s naught else on tap. quacked and chirruped incontinently. lad. Or best bitter. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. All were empty. one with a sharp carving knife. a hogshead of mead. “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. that were a long time ago. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern.” Bashful as ever. lass. brass-banded pumps. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. simple Sydney smiled shyly. Still nothing.” “Aye. Or gassy lager.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. slippers! – stood between them and the door. Undaunted. however. They waited for a few minutes. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. was unsettlingly absent. wearing blue overalls. Nothing. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. mine host.” she continued. “We’ve b-b-been…”
. my good fellow. “And you. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. Penguins and Tetley go way back. The leader. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers.” Bella said. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. granite inglenook. You look fantastic. I’d recognise you anywhere. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. the consummate cuppa-maker. Archie. polished horse brasses. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character.
” Louis groaned.G. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds.” he growled. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders. Tips is a Unilever brand. The tea folk advanced.G. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. P. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls. “Assam.” Gaffer spat. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Lever lover? Menacingly. A lot. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. lass. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. yes.” “Tannin poisoning. brand animals like us. Assholes. I suspect. “Tbirds were P. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. along with Brooke Bond. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. Bushells.G. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. the T-birds. Because P. then glared at his gang. “We’ve been on holiday. Sydney shuffled his feet.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain.But he was cut off by Gaffer. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right.”
. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea.G. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth.G. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. Tips people. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. Lyons.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. “Tetley. Could put a word in for them. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight.” “That’s torn it. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. Psychosis is not uncommon. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. Lipton. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. Tips.” Bella gulped audibly. brandishing their blunt instruments. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. He met the T-birds once. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. But. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals.” Orlov whispered. We liked the T-birds. ominously. as did Gordon with his andiron. reminding them who’s boss.
walnut. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. proper trees like hornbeam.” Bella said. Defeated. insidiously. heavy trees. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences.” Bella smiled modestly.” Orlov interrupted. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. deciduous trees. A stroke of genius. no.G. elm. Tea’s time is up. “An old trick.” “Yes. “It was nothing.” Bella had said.” Orlov snarled. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone. Coffee culture’s king. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. They’d have to stop soon. unobtrusively. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating.G.” Louis didn’t mince his words. oak. After looking around and sniffing the air. “It was brilliant. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. these were big trees.” Louis finally said. The air was chilly. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. you two. Far from the madding firs. “Look. “The reason you didn’t know about it. Tips. unawares.” “No. ferret. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. you can bicker without me. beech. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. The glory days of P. she decided it would do for the night. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. poplar.”
. fur bristling on the nape of his neck.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing. They’ve reverted to commodities. a copycat called Tim Tam. It tasted delicious too. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. Tea brands are identical nowadays. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. I’m amazed they fell for it. attempting to mediate between her warring associates.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. like most FMCGs. Night was falling. There’s nothing to choose between them. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. and arsehole begins with A.Chapter Eight
Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree
Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking. lime. “Now push off the pair of you. fighting on price. sycamore.
Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. Swiftly followed by another. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. rotten logs. when something caught her eye. A singularly sultry rabbit.” Orlov added.” With a sigh of contentment. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. she offered a square to Louis. Watching the frolicking creatures. Smiling. “there’s Snap. looked over and waved affably. They made good progress through the forest. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. “Actually. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. Louis was in his element. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. only to disappear when anyone came too close. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise.” “I’m just glad they let us go. Not this one. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. a fire was crackling in the glade and. “Look. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. for once. the Trix rabbit. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. And another. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. the Unibank unicorn.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. she surmised. the Nesquik bunny. On picking herself up for the fifth time. Before long. Scania’s and Saab’s. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. with an irresistible
.” Orlov said with atypical glee. the Kirin dragon. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. she was struck by the absence of bird song. Keebler’s elves also showed up. only to find herself drifting off. but it was pleasant all the same.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. out and around the trees. In a most unladylike manner. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. the Schnuffel rabbit. before evaporating into the undergrowth. the Hartford elk. Immediately adjacent to the path. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. lay languidly beneath it. scrutinising the strangers. her parents. Vauxhall’s. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. wearing a skintight yellow dress. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. The next day saw an early start. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. the Glenfiddich stag. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. Crackle and Pop.” Louis laughed. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. most likely.Chastened. linnets and the like. exhausted. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. A figure was flitting through the trees. pipits. flitting in. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead.
actually. since you ask. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. all growling. then shuffled on. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. However. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap.” In normal circumstances. clicked his foreclaws. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. sensing Bella’s unease. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. no. They hunched together biting their tongues. And then some.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. It’s a trick. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. She’s Circe. then a steady stream. Louis. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. Bella followed suit. “Arctophily. they don’t actually hibernate. then a fourth. Rrrrrrrr. Bella bided her time. Must hide.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. then a third. A big brown bear lumbered past. Quick. mainly nocturnal. as if to reset her audio receptors. peered around myopically.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov.” Orlov hissed. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. tongue hanging out. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. they roused Louis who woke
. sniffed the air. “Let me guess.” The lynx laughed in his face. I’m doing him a favour. Get out of my way. which was still rustling. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx.” she smouldered.” “Yes. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. my. Together. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. sotto voce. famously omnivorous creatures. trying not to breathe. she’s cursed. “they’re solitary creatures too. Fancy a bite. I can see that. “My. It paused for a second.” Bella butted in. polecat. “Don’t fall for it. Quick.” she said. Dark Temptation. the oldest trick in the book. “Something smells good around here. Daddy’s coming baby. Well. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. Rrrrrrrrrrr. Bella. “Aeaea. A for Argonauts. A second bear followed. Bravely. “Bears are extremely unpredictable.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. “No. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. “Quick. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. all hulking. and not a little need for nourishment. This doesn’t look good. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. However. all ponderous. An unearthly hush descended. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark.
Labatt’s blue bear. Even Pudsey. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. Boo Boo bear. black bears. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade.” hers replied. the easyJet bear. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. The dell. Appallingly. He died with his Wellington boots on. Paddington bear. the Hofmeister bear. Big bears. Bearzookas. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. They didn’t get very far. “has left the building. In fact. Gulliver.
. the biggest jambearee. SuperTed. It was worse than bear baiting. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. whose charitable work is second to none. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. friendly bears. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. George.” his said. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. Hamm’s beer bear. meanwhile. Smokey. cans included.with a blissful smile on his face. The massacre was relentless.” Pooh simpered. fierce bears. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. SuperTed was also in attendance. the easyJet bear. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. Paddington was a sitting duck. Bundaberg rum bear. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. wasn’t spared by the assassins. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. small bears. “Let’s get out of here. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. BearPG rifles. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. peeping out a knothole. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. the iconic US Forest Service bear. the bears burst into song. firing indiscriminately. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. Pipes were smoked. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. a snivelling wimp at heart.” Hiding in the wounded tree. “They’ll be asleep before long. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. Cresta lemonade bear. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. before a head shot finished him off. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. The fat bastard. brown bears. At least they seemed civilised about it. begged on his knees for mercy. “Told you so.” Orlov murmured. Yogi bear. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. Charmin paper towels bear. as were Pudsey bear. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. “The bear. Larynges lubricated. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. Biffo the bear. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. Only Gulliver. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. was filling up with bears. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. “We should be able to get away then. Carried back to the ice floe. inevitably.
The dirty deed was done. A second troop of baby-faced. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell. Supported by Charmin and Cresta.
.showed any sense of self-preservation. There was no sign of Winnie. They raised their weapons as one. In so doing. he sealed the fate of his comrades.
” Orlov ordered.” Orlov said calmly. Hallmark’s main rival. failing to focus on the salient facts. We talked joint ventures with them all. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. such was the bloodletting. the trio forged ahead. sensible as ever. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. frozen in its death throes. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. you see. “There’s nothing we can do here.” Louis answered dully. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. Great mark-ups. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. “Greeting cards. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. Heavy shadows fell across the path.” Louis wept. if only to work out what they were up against. Night was falling.” “Explain. They kept going. Working together. They pushed on slowly. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. paw-prints. “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. tears streaming down his ashen face. A Lynx card range made sense. “I know who did this. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable.” Louis groaned. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. Suddenly. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. the better. Frantically. A chill was in the air. steadily. Me-to-You they’re called. Led by Tatty Teddy. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. Bloodstains. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features.” They knew she was right. But drew a blank. man” before breathing his last. you say?” “Yes. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. “Greeting cards.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. the baby-faced ones. That’s the frightening thing. Very profitable business. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. jolted out of his rambling account. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. most with decades of distinguished service.Chapter Nine
Honey Still for Three?
The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons.” “Okay.” Bella said. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. Cautiously. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. stealthily. listening intently for any indication of military activity. On returning to the path several hours later.
Invizimals.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. “I think I know what this place is.” Louis said. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. “Potentially big market for personal care products. Until the rain arrived.”
. no. At night. sat a glowering gothic castle. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. Pet Society. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. “Think about it. full and ominous.” Bella was incredulous. I don’t like the look of them. The first brand character dates from 1877. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. cold and cutting. They struggled along. they opted for the latter. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. They searched for shelter. familiars. We have nothing to worry about. 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. The path soon turned into a slough. slipping and sliding and slithering. But shelter found them. They’re avatars. Never the best of hikers. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. They’re called Furries. often in the prime of life. deodorant.” Louis said. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. It’s simples. Bella was exhausted before long. Eyepet. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. Orlov laughed. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. teeth chattering. Second Life players. They’re breakfast cereal characters. There must be lots of scope for shampoo.” Louis said. Surely some of them are still with us.” “Looks pretty scary to me. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. with witching hour approaching. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. never mind feline chat-up lines.” he said. bath salts and what have you. according to recent news reports.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. They’re nothing to be afraid of. Country Story. which stopped them in their tracks.” Orlov answered with equanimity. they made reasonable progress. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. “I know what they are.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. if anything – just that fetches. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. High on a crag. Thousands of critters have been created since. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. Most have been axed ruthlessly. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. “That’s no phantasm.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. above the sodden forest floor. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing.
Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. After licking his lips with relish. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. the portcullis rose. swords and stuffed animal heads. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. mead and beeswax markets. always on the creepy side of welcoming. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. though. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. It’s Mummy. shields. Mummy”. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. Bella was too tired to care. We didn’t see anything. as the drawbridge fell. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. Tigger. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. The latter included Dumbo. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. “I’m waiting. His cavernous smile. however. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. much less amused. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. By then it was too late to retreat.” Louis ventured.Orlov was not convinced. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. “Mummy. Be careful what you say. He looked enormously pleased with himself. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. But not the once and future Honey Monster. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. Mr Lynx. “Mummy.” the creature rasped. head tilted back.” it shrieked. lined with oil paintings. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. wondering what he was waiting for. Bagheera. “Tell them about the honey bunny. She had second thoughts.
. The travellers looked at each other. was positively cadaverous. Bizarrely. spread out on a table before him. 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. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. lances. nor were Piglet.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors.
He doesn’t know what we know. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. after breakfast. it was the least he could do.” She looked at Orlov coldly. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and.” “Lucky for us. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising
. as the reality of their situation hit home.” “Keep your voices down. Apparently. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. mummy!” they shouted in unison. “It’s simples. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. like himself. Let’s keep it that way.” Bella was not amused.” “We’re doomed. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community.” Orlov said. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits.” Louis chipped in. As every brand manager knows. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. Just as music calms the savage breast. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. we’re history. Otherwise. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. The next morning. hence the bee laboratories. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers.” Bella gloomed. Doom was unaccountably delayed. psychological or otherwise. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions.” she murmured. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. Walls have ears. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. we’ll never get to ACME. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. “Or he’ll overhear us. “All together now. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings.” Orlov hissed. So it proved on this occasion. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. he showed the threesome around his stately home. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. “There’s no honey in Penguins. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. “Tell them about the honey. pausing to point out the bee laboratory.Shaken to the core. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. As if by magic. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. so too slogans calm the savage brand. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone.
” Orlov observed.” the Honey Monster said. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting.Character Mediation Enterprise. innocently. without smiling. “I thought honey was a natural laxative.
. “Not that kind of pooh.
I’ll Take Madhattan
railings. Increasingly alarmed. leaping. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. “Don’t be afraid. A perfect day was in prospect. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. sleek and in perfect physical condition. was pretty impressive. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. strapped them in securely and. What there was. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. rivulets. Peanuts. stood before them wagging its tail. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. bounding over fallen logs.” Legend the unicorn announced. getting faster and faster and faster all the while.Chapter Ten
The Sound of One Paw Clapping
The growling got louder as they descended. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. giving way to the rich arable farmland
. It was replaced by frantic barking. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go.” Orlov reassured his companions. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. Bella. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. offering little by way of illumination. where it charged between the trees. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. raising its paws and barking excitedly. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. Luckily. the brand band exchanged wary glances. fences. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. The growling stopped. golden. A gigantic silver Greyhound. air-conditioned cabin. glorious. long. while straining on its leash. There was no sign of Cerberus. They should buy us some time. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. circling steeply upwards. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. dodging. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. All of a sudden. gratifying. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. saplings. tree stumps. though.
” Bella noted. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. “Business first. “Must be a homing greyhound. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. Eventually. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. As ever. Glinting on the horizon.
. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. “I thought they’d broken up. Bella stared daggers at Orlov.” Orlov added. FAO Schwarz.” Louis said casually. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. Grizzly Bear. Mastodon. bunny hop. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). amongst many others. Doves. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. Central Park Zoo. Noah and the Whale. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Pet Shop Boys. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate.” “Maybe we should check it out. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. before dashing off again in the direction it came. “ACME is top of our agenda. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Market leader in Britain he may have been. Wolfmother. Whitesnake. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. The line up included Gorillaz. Snoop Dogg. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. Louis sulked. Sheryl Crow. if not quite the bees’ knees. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view.” Bella gasped. better yet. Seven minutes later. Seal. Before long. their mode of conveyance was. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. Then we can foxtrot. the Natural History Museum. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. Orlov snorted. Fleet Foxes. 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. An open air charity concert. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. pleasure later. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. Danger Mouse. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. Followed by Flat Eric. rubbing salt into the wound. Literally. Wild Beasts. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. the new Eagles.” Squelched. Bat for Lashes. infuriated by his insensitivity. pointing at the billboard. Scorpions.
. Oh. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. That’s what I think. caught in the inter-building eddies. just like you said. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. though. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. panhandlers. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. as they advanced towards Timex Square. yelling at one another. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. Forty-second Street was equally empty. in as cutting a way as he could manage. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. while stuffing their faces with fast food. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. dirty. The human world is a horrible place. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness.” he said. shoving.” “Why are there no humans. buskers. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. I’m sorry. devoid of hope and authenticity. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. druggies. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. many of which strobed intermittently. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. Surely everyone knows that. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. Squeeze This. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. animal brands especially. Mutant maybe. But survivors all the same. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. hookers. Horribly disfigured. security guards. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. you never got as far as B. indicated that the place was operational. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. “I think I know what’s happening here. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. Marketing gives it meaning. squalid. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. “The real world is breaking through. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. If we go. 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. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. “But surely. blowing a blizzard of trash before it.” Bella said. A chill wind whistled in from the east. yakking. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. they go. was nowhere to be seen. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. Aleksandr. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. perhaps. as if a performance was about to begin. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong.
then get the Dell out of here.” “Gotcha. Then another. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. horse-mounted traffic cops. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. spend. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey.” Louis said.” Orlov exclaimed. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. off.” Orlov took off. 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. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. “Well. Timex Square was an empty. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. “Bloody Hellman’s. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. it added. Monkey from Sky TV. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. Luckily. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. “Well. it went on.com critter. “Holy Doughboy. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron.
.” Louis gasped. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. off. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. Led by Cheeka. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”.” Bella groaned. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. unwelcoming place. it stated. an irresistible urge to spend. 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. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. Another followed. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. stunned by the update. the Dulux sheepdog. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. spend. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated. lynx and meerkat in their midst.
The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. while they were in mortal danger. “No signal. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. eyes locked. We don’t have much time. ready for fisticuffs. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal.” Infuriated. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. look left. Louis looked down at him. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. right beside the big BlackBerry patch.” Impatient as always. “Calm down. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. flapping idly in the breeze. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. But Louis cut him off. Bella looked at Louis. “What’s the address? Quick. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant.”
. They stood snout to snout. 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. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. Patrolling down 42nd Street. no doubt. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. “Wait for us. Having stared the meerkat out. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. start.” Orlov was fit to be tied. Louis turned to Bella.” he said curtly. breathing heavily. Quick. ferret. Orlov backed down. look right. It was a brand free zone. stand up. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. Smirking. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. getting more infuriated by the second. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. I thought you’d been here before” strop. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. “Let me handle this. followed by “Louis. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. Even in Madhattan. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. look round again manner. The meerkat glared at them both. Scampering ahead in his stop. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue.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. Growling. The fashion week tents were still standing.” Louis snapped. “For your information.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. drop down.
“What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. Louis held her back.” He switched off his iPaw. Rrrrrrrrr. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. “Just get Google. It was her imagination. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising.” The meerkat was off like a shot. As included. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. The stress of the quest. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. feeling edgier by the second.” “That was all accountancy bullshit.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building.” “Read that in Wikipedia. officiating bodies like ACME. down-sizing. the brains behind the Smash Martians. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. “It’s number 285. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. Critters he called them. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save
. Camel. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. Nothing.” Bella had no time for legends. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. originality disappears. “It doesn’t say.” The connection took forever. will you. The Young and Rubicund building. Something or someone was watching them. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. did you?” Bella shouted. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. research. “Look. He’s barking up the wrong office block. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. Adidas. Monkey. She was sure of it.” Louis sighed. not to say incredulity. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. He’d clicked through from Google Street View. innovation follows. “World Wide Webster.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. “I don’t believe it. Once production goes.” “What?” Bella retorted. in a downtown direction. Racoon. believe me. “designed to justify cost cutting. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. Panther. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. “Let him go. creativity evaporates. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station.” Bella moaned. The building was just a couple of blocks away. publicity. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. She wasn’t helped by Louis waving his iPaw in front of her face and talking nineteen to the dozen as the fight-or-flight adrenaline dissipated. Bella made to follow. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. He was a Panther man himself. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. design.
reason-why. The locked ACME offices. They especially hate cute critters. let alone embarrassed. He had a theory. advertising characters. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. Aleksandr. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. hot. Fearing another tantrum. he looked around. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. all disconcertingly empty. A couple of minutes later. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. “Corleone the copywriter. The curt note on the door. a strop and sulk situation. Hard sellers hate whimsy. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. They passed a Starbucks. no winners or losers.” Far from being crestfallen. bothered.” “Oh. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. though that may have been the art directors’ department. isabellines especially. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. “Yes. subtlety. they strolled down to 285. arm in arm. as did his equally dumbfounded
. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. Bella refused to take the bet. It too was devoid of life. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. Chuckling. With a heave. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. Nodding enthusiastically. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. The big city was distorting his thinking. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. There was no brand war.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. only with account managers and art directors.us the journey. their Old Glories unfurled. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. stiff and straining in the breeze. The wreckage all around. brand mascots. jingles. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. mouth agape. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. The vacated Y&R floors. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes.” Louis yawned. extremely agitated.” Louis said laconically. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper.” Louis let her vent. Exactly. A conspiracy theory. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. Although they look laid back. “We know. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. the Russian emerged from the elevator. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. Startled. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. Orlov missed the sarcasm. Yes. a bit like The Sopranos. The whole place was completely empty.
“lock the revolving door. thump. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. thump. out.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. The alarm alerted the undead. Eyes glassy and unseeing. the three of them backed up several paces. the latter sprinting on all fours. He pushed again. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. They picked themselves up.” Louis yelled. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. like a fire tender on emergency call.” he added. Caught betwixt and between. thump. Then a third. jumping to his feet. then charged at the barrier together. thump. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. Bella and Louis did likewise. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. thump. Thump. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. however. then another. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. Almost. Nada. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. thump. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems.” Bella urged. They spilled into the street. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. The door burst open. It suddenly shattered.
. Thump. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. Without pausing to dust themselves down. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. An earsplitting alarm went off. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. A crack appeared in the pane. and pushed on the side door. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. Then a fourth. the zombie was momentarily confused. “Quick. 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. Arms outstretched. Its catatonic associates followed suit. then another. Glancing round as he ran. the former sliding on the marble. Nothing. It was locked. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories.companions. Louis lost the head.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. “Lucky I checked out the building. round. There was no time to lose.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. Frantic. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention.
where they paused to catch their collective breath. This way. They’re wusses. No surrender. 40th
. This way. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. “I think there’s a food court in that place. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. with an unrepeatable oath. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. With no realistic alternative.” Orlov said to himself. They’re milkshakes.” Bella said. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. “We’re trapped.” He galloped up Park Avenue. They’re softies.But the quarry was too quick for them. “No. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. in the direction of Brand Central Station. “Let’s stand and fight. Bella. no.
” Bella panted. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. But none of them are McDonald’s. As Bella. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo.Chapter Twelve
Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. “Never meet your heroes. Too worked up to worry. grinning. No bother. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. face contorted in agony. “Yes. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls.” she added.” Orlov empathised.” he conceded.” “Yes.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line. “I think we’ve lost them.” Orlov said. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. 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 said. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. “Different muscle groups. Rrrrrrrr. “Stitch. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza.” he commiserated. albeit with difficulty. by way of explanation. He won’t be there anyway. winking at the other half of his double act.” The meerkat cracked up. which ordinarily copes with 150. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days.” Suppressing a smile.” Bella deadpanned. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. “I’m starving after all that exercise. “How can you be so sure?”
. Sniggering to start.000 passengers per day.” Wiping her eyes. the brand mascot’s brand mascot.” Louis laughed. the lynx tried to sympathise.” Unabashed. looking anxiously behind them. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. “I can swim for hours. “That’s where Flat Eric lives.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. “Lynxes excepted. right Louis?” “Right. gasping for breath. “But downtown’s not a good move. “Okay guys.” Louis continued. holding her side. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald. “A good brand is hard to find. you know. those McTofus are really something. “Don’t bet on it. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. Giggling. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. But my sprinting’s not so good.
. Aleksandr. Things’ll be clearer then. as they tried to get their bearings. “Coming with me. 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. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect.” Bella said. We need to make our way to JWT Airport. swivelling his head this way and that. the moment of light relief forgotten. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. He looked around in that ever-wary way. was made for them. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. On Mercury. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. “Looks like Coney Island.” She looked from one drained friend to the other. “I’m heading for SoHo. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap.” Louis croaked.” Louis sighed. Hot sun. And tasted like it too. though. We should be safe there. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. she shook her still-slumbering companions. “If that’s where we decide to go. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome.” the lynx said. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. Have you?” The decision. Inside a greenhouse. It’s well uptown. The place felt like an oven.” he said. the one that does international flights. Settled in their seats. ACME. Louis?” “It’s getting late. If not quite melting. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. just as the doors were closing. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. as he pressed his face against the window. Bella awoke with a start. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. It’s relocated to India.” The meerkat hesitated. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu.” “Decisions.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. decisions. trying to make the peace. ACME. Inside a smelting plant.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. because there’s no public transportation. Boiling sun. decisions.” Understandably perhaps. exhaustion soon caught up with them. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. peeping outside. “We’ve had a very trying day. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. “All of which are moot. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. as it happened. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. Then Orlov followed suit. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. “ACME’s our priority. “We must have missed our stop. Bella’s obsession with ACME.
trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. twisting and turning. ghost trains and roller coasters. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. Whatever their phylum. in short. Gasping for a drink.“Not a problem. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. Onlookers. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. flat-roofed and ogee arched. Far Away. A sea of sand stretched in one direction.” Bella struggled to speak. dune piled upon dune. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter.” Too parched to say anything. far away. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. Welcome to Mirage. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. Gathering their wits. a fraud. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. held court behind the bar. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. most of which were counterfeit. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. Bertie Bassett’s Bar.” Orlov rasped. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. boys. The door hissed open. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. Grill and Waterhole. The heat was fearsome. as best they could. Bertie Bassett. was a poseur. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. The Birds Custard bluebird. piled upon dune.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. We’ll be safe among the carousels. an imposter. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Except that they weren’t flies. it said. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. Botanic Gardens too. Much as he loved dry heat. It was hotter outside than in. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. Unselfconsciously. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. The barflies hung on his every word. Self-respect be damned. like eco-
. top-hatted. beckoned from the other. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. the monocled. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda.” Orlov remarked. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. not only looked inviting. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. and how Mr Peanut. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. Mine host. be gone. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. Mercifully. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. when brand icons were dapper men about town. Bella wished she was far. Bella stood in the doorway.
Howlin Wolf. followed by “Wild Thing”. never mind “Fireflies”. a sure-fire floor filler. “Chicken feed. spokescreatures sold into bondage. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. The Beatles. Orlov persisted. The Monkees. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. Orlov didn’t join in.” Undeterred. Dropped. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. A poultry matter. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. Meanwhile.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. No matter. he didn’t give a 4X. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. Bella and Louis supped up. was in seventh heaven. Unconcerned.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. We’ve got to get out of here. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. for eucalyptus. Louis. “This is the last brand saloon. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. Panicking. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. the proper name for the peanut family. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. Lapsed. A hen party. the lusty lummox. The Animals. just as the stork’s set was finishing. nor did he want to know right now. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. Grey Goose. Adam and the Ants. Louis was collared by the meerkat. The lynx hadn’t. Horse Feathers. “Hound Dog”. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue.” “It’s mambo. Louis didn’t
. spokespenguins held to ransom. Meerkat mambo. the audience roared. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. Monkey Business and more. much to his annoyance. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. All axed by their advertising agencies. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. Buddy Holly and the Crickets.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah.” “Right. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. Famous Grouse. let alone an LAX.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. We’re in Brandablanca. History. No sign of Owl City. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. Smirking. consisting of Wild Turkey. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. Brusquely.
” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness. I need something to calm me down. Releasing his grip. apparently. standing in the shade.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. He made his way to the restrooms. There was no sign of Bella. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. He’s on his death bed. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. “What’s up.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. the CEO is. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies.” “Exactly. either. though never rising above ill-at-ease. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. It wasn’t so funny the second time. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books. having a cigarette. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. Orlov gave up on the lynx. No sign of her there. However. They’re in transit. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there.” “Excellent. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily.” she said. then. then. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries.” the abstemious meerkat said. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away. Bella was outside. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. deep in thought. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. doc?” Bella forced a smile.”
.” Bella nodded. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling.” “Don’t tell me.” “Let’s get going.want to know.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. trying to hide his relief. a Happy Meal. trying to get to Hamlet. He slipped into the backstage area. “Okay.” “I don’t. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. “I didn’t know you smoked.
they returned to the bar. sweetmeats. was also quite striking. Ali Brioni. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. Orlov made for the door. despite her desire to depart. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore.” Bella promised. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. fashion designer to the stars. “I’ll be back. Awimoway. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. They shoved him aside. He didn’t want to know.Chapter Thirteen
Mista Kipling. His logo.” Bella asked anxiously. Ali Bottega Veneta. Ali Balenciaga. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. He Dead
Decision made. The meerkat was much less impressed. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. Ali Burberry. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. Reluctantly. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. The lynx didn’t care. He still didn’t want to know. A mere man. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager
. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. spices. Mustapha cut his prices even more. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. Ali Bally. carpets. They explained the situation to him again. Unconcerned. awimoway. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. Far from being a rip-off of western designers.” Orlov answered. They explained the situation to him. As a feline of sorts. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. So they left him to it. “Do you think he’ll be all right. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. a stylised scarab in a circle. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel.” Bella wasn’t reassured. Ali Boden. laying out his wares as he talked. Bella was impressed. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. Louis wasn’t in the same league. He introduced himself as Mustapha. he refused to let go. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. more emphatically than before. carvings. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. “He’ll be there when we get back. shouting over the music. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. Louis was on the dancefloor. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. awimoway. Irate. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. He paused to get his bearings. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. Pelican and Penguin. Talking all the while.
good-for-nothing.” He plunged back into the casbah and. they’re a delight.” he decided. very. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary. they’re not.” Bella said beneath her breath. head aloft. very bad idea. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. hoping to bond with the brute. plus provisions for their journey. Mr Midden said that was a very. But business was business. The shit of the desert set off. dragging deeply. Harrier jets. eyelids narrowed. stood between them and the same sand sea. Way too hot to argue. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. The old lungs weren’t what they were. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. populated by belching braying camels. Puma helicopters. he explained with a bronchial cough. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. Must be the other way. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. He looked supercool too – haughty. Even in the searing heat of the desert. after much pushing and shoving. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. as a peacemaker. Careless squawk costs lives. “So much for kat-nav. Scorpion armoured vehicles.merchants. Bella decided.
. Eventually. they’re hot. They were worrying animal omens. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. blowing smoke rings. He offered one to Orlov. good fun. Breath like a brazier. up dune. “sorry about that. 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. nostrils flared. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. A dung beetle barred their way. Only a palm-fringed oasis. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. Orlov didn’t. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. Bella waved back. Joe called a halt. Unwisely. This way was the wrong way. Brands come. emerged on the other side. She told the beetle of their intentions. down dune.” Orlov apologised. “Whoops. “This way. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. indifferent to everyone around him. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. Still no sign of a subway. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. through tamarisk thickets. Instead. Orlov offered him a Lark. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. It was Joe Camel himself. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. Orlov accepted. detached. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. brands go. There was no sign of the subway station. Joe was undeniably cool. past thorn-bush. a disgrace. grumbling and griping all the while. looking down on all he surveyed.
Rumours. Aleksandr. who once bestrode BrandLand. It was a refuge.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. Whatever. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. “What rumours?” The camel explained. if you want. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined.bad influence.” Bella replied brusquely. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. as they approached the adobe gatehouse.” Orlov murmured. Bella hobbled on. causing a mini landslide. “I can carry you the rest of the way. having finally found gainful employment.” He indicated with his hoof. or something similar. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. “It’s just over that rise. Sorry. style’s forever. to put it mildly. Aleksandr. his sang-froid abandoned. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. Bella. she wept for her dead mummy. earnestly. Supporting each other. having decided what to do. which rolled back down the ravine. “Looks innocent enough.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. she sat on a stone and burst into tears.
. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. “Take care of Louis for me. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. Don’t lose hope.” “That’s true. Customers are fickle. a benison. This is as far as I go. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. dead best friend.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. “Your funeral. Joe shrugged. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. You know how it is. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. smiling. they clambered up the dusty gulch. It was all too much. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. Amazed. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. The Maytag repair man. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. Fashion changes. You can go back if you want to. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. “…brand characters talk. dead daddy. Sobbing uncontrollably. undecided. I’m an icon. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. Bella nodded appreciatively. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. Five minutes later. She could taste him.” she shouted over her shoulder. a tropical island in a sea of sand. Don’t pander. I’ve heard things. Stay true to yourself. tennis courts. after all. Mr Kipling was near now. She waddled up the wadi. “I’ve come this far. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. bad as in good. speaking slowly. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. I’m going to see it through. Momentarily inattentive. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed.” “Ciao. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community.
regretfully. Nicole and Papa.” Orlov replied. sitting in a circle of silence. “Look. Grrrr. Crazy Eddie. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. Frito Bandito. Orlov tried to get through to it. smiling benignly. Ruff. the convenience stores and the community centre. Bow-wow. The mute mutt kept mum. the coffee shops. Beattie and Buzby. who’d seen better days. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. Joe Isuzu. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. Woof. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. thick carpets. increasing market share. “Would you like to look around?” she said. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. taking in the gymnasium.”
.” Without further ado. explaining the rationale for their operation. their raping. Yap.” Betty said. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room.R. But she was friendly enough. the Tango man. Howard Brown.“Welcome to paradise. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. On a whim. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. woof. It was filled with immortal brand icons. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. “I think you’ll be impressed. Aunt Jemima. rising from her sofa. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. 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. plump cushions. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. the golf course. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. look. Hartley. the Coppertone girl. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. woof. Clippit. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. Bow-wow. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. Nipper responded eagerly. However. assorted Scottish Widows. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. “Woof. They peeked into the communal sitting room. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. as they were ushered into her office.” Orlov cried. Betty herself had seen better days. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. the arts and crafts studios. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. the forgotten British Telecom titans. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. woof. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. as orange as ever. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. Frankie and Louie.
they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Kipling’s a come-on. Their accommodation was waiting for them. Get out. Thinking quickly. They were there for the duration. He’s not here. They’d walked into a trap.cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Right now. Crocker’s a…c.. Smiling benevolently. Never was.
.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere.
given the free floorshow Louis provided. youza. the mortification or the migraine. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. frankly.
. followed by “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” followed by…Louis felt a wave of shame wash over his shattered body…”Three Little Fishies”. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. Can’t be too careful. Then things got a bit hazy. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. Red Robin”.” The agony was unrelenting. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. but there was a limit. “don’t move”. Chirpy. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. Dawn would be up and about before long.Chapter Fourteen
You’re Never Alone With a Brand
“Arrrrrrgggggh. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. which tightened inexorably. Cheep”. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town.” The pain was excruciating. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. Cheep. “Oooooohhhhh. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. Louis had never had a hangover like it. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. He flopped back down again. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. He was in a storeroom of some kind. He was lying on a small camp bed. though he wasn’t as young as he was. mercilessly. feeling queasy. “Noooooooooo. followed by “Chirpy. the lynx tried to get his bearings. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Louis sat up with a start. he remembered several more moments of madness. youza. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. as are bladders full to bursting. though they only had to ask. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. With a sudden shudder of horror. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not.” The torture wouldn’t stop. Groaning. However. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. well. Better not. “lie still”. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. Head splitting. He looked around. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. It was the least the bar owner could do. Lynxes were lithe.
Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. before disappearing through a swinging access door. shoved it open with difficulty. Only the minarets showed signs of life. holding it in. Mr Bassett. Louis’s iPaw. the shakes. Louis needed all the help he could get. you son of a bitch. head thumping. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. fiddling with an iPaw. Livid. grabbing hold with both hands. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. Sobriety took hold. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. Apart from the sacks of snacks. Suddenly. hoping to attract someone’s attention. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. which flapped to and fro in his wake. He reached for his iPaw. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. Ooohhh yeaaah. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. And a figure sitting silently at the end. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. dying for a drink. with a view to ringing the bar. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. If not Bertie himself. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration
. sugary. “Avoid the Noid. albeit not on account of the nausea. He unlocked the door.” he shouted. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. Louis played it cool. Louis angled his face on the bars. kicking the door and shaking the bars. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. Presumably. He shouted for assistance. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. Anxiety mounting. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. waited for the palpitations to pass. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. briskly. He sniffed. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. There was no sign of a cell phone. “I’m talking to you. eyes fixed on the smart phone. He paused. “I’m talking to you. He squeezed his face against the bars and. He banged on the door. Louis looked up. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. It was sweet.It was a decision Louis lived to regret.” he called out. liquorice-like. His iPaw was missing. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. peered through the iron bars. trying to place the aroma. rabbiteared guard remained silent. His red-suited. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. then tried again.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. A call to prayer was imminent. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone.” There was movement. “Christ. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. “I’ve been expecting you.
Bertie Bassett”. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap. “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. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. Have you forgotten your training. We make dramas out of crises. nodding toward the barrels once more. He kept his cool instead. He had to get moving right away. Nonchalant yet nasty. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. hangover overcome by willpower alone. It might already be too late. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. rising energetically from his camp bed. some of them come back or. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails.” “I’m not with you. an escape route for persecuted brands. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. continuing to play it cool. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door.” Bassett smiled.”
. “Your days are numbered. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. “Maybe. Instead. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. “They come from that.” Louis countered. not even “My name is Bassett. in response to the ridiculous death threat.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders. he realised that something wasn’t right. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel.” “That’s what we want them to believe. Mr Lynx. should I say. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. Unilever boy?” He stood up. Louis refused to be drawn. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. Well. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. some parts of them come back. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. Mr Lynx. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. Here’s lookin’ at you. “But why. the liquorice magnate said nothing. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances.” he said.” he said.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. buy-or-die issues. Bassett or no Bassett. They never come back. And today’s the day when your number’s up. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. “That’s a bit melodramatic. round up the usual suspects.” he said.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions.” There was no time to lose. Bertie.” “I see. and suchlike. kid.
Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. Although he was still alive. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint.Ordinarily. However. Anything to make the memory go away. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. He soon would. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. He should have known better than to tempt fate. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. he sensed that Bassett was serious. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position.
The accommodation was superb. No hassle. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. But. No hustle. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. its equity was still there. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. Brands. were a bit like piggy banks. never mind a sickening stench. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. There was no unscalable wall. something strange was going on. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. as Nipper made clear. Bella could see the attraction of the place. The food. no matter how outmoded.Chapter Fifteen
No Rest Home for the Wicked
“What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. No hard sell. There was no perimeter fence. clearly. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. as per ACME’s edict. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. much less the physiology. The recreational facilities were wonderful. Crocker’s camp. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled
. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. That investment kept on growing and growing and. Bella was kicking herself. no matter how venerable. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. Bella well knew. 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. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. As a consequence. Mr Soybean. neither electrified nor chain link. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. was a crock of marketplace gold. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. part of the brand trafficking operation. The forbidden fruit trick. Every brand icon. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. Tom Tomato. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. Bella could understand why any brand icon. like Mr Kipling. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. No soft soap. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. with watchtowers and guards. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. She was very tempted. drowned their sorrows in convivial company.
The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. He offered her one.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. a penguinoramus. Some chance. “I still can’t smell anything. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. It worked. She was a penguin ignoramus. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. retching in a revolting manner. Orlov looked up. “Acrylic.” Bella said. only with incense that’s gone off.” she said. Not wanting to attract undue attention. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. their
. patting him on the back. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty.the perimeter. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. just to see the look on his face. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. Still. Orlov thought for a second. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. for one – but this was ridiculous. He spluttered. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. footloose and fancy free. “It’s a bit like a civet. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. Undeterred. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. low-rise glass building.” Orlov gasped. Even Bella could smell it. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. behind a dense stand of leylandii. “Maybe it was something you ate. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. He didn’t look up to the challenge. Bella was beyond belief. then took in the nine-hole golf course. Bella told him so. Orlov was doubled over. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh.” She let him splutter. Doubtless Tiger. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. He coughed. there’s a plume of smoke over there.” he added. struggling to his feet. only smarter. “Orlov insisted. There was no escape.” he said. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. minging and malodorous. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. no less. The aroma. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. “Definitely acrylic. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. That’s where it’s coming from. Hundreds of sports team mascots. The stench was stronger now. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. “Burning acrylic. She declined. It was worse than she thought. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. was somewhere between niffy and noisome. “Look. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you.
Peppa the Pig was no more.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. The guard. a brand abattoir. Gruesome as the big screen was. they’re cuddly toys.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. Aberdeen’s Angus. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn.” Orlov said. targets similar work schedule metrics. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. pampered. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. It was apocaplush. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. There was only one problem. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. sadly. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. Norwich’s Captain Canary. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout.” “Yes. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. As a Russian. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. as had Go-Go Hamsters. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus.” At a loss. 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. Appalled. quotas. “They certainly kept that quiet. Barney. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. Stamford the Lion. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. The guard was no ordinary guard.” Raging. He Gives a Monkey’s. From its perch above the production line. let alone A Bug’s Life. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. And won the election by a landslide. nothing less than the furry solution. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. Portsmouth’s Frogmore. was extinct.” Bella whispered. Bella. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. Samson and Delilah. Beanie Babies had been and gone. It was about to launch into
. the purple dinosaur. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen. In the annals of advertising slogans. As a democrat. Desperate times require desperate measures. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. It was Pegasus.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. which fell away when full. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. the questers considered their options.
as you can see. Once one sponsor departs. Orlov cut the creature off. Pegasus looked unimpressed. Bella seized her chance.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. It’s the way of the world. A god’s gotta graft. I’m not choosy. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. BTW. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. Poseidon. remember.” “Yes.”
. She says you’re dead horsemeat. “I’m calling security” spiel. that its father. in case you’d forgotten. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. She’s full of it you know.” “Your wish is my command. Whatever. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. I dropped Bellerophon in it. she does. We’ve still got a wish in hand.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. If so. the rest soon follow. I’m not proud.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. However. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. Orlov. 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. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. “The Roc sends her regards. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. Oh. Bella. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. Call her.” Pegasus whinnied. and don’t look so surprised. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. there’s only two of us. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. “Is that so?” “Yes. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye.an “how dare you”. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. Just ask Tiger. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. “However. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. Orlov. I’m the offspring of Medusa. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry.” Bella acknowledged. “you shouldn’t be here”. She says you’re a sell out.
Penguin at the Gates of Dawn
he glanced up at the Proctoids. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. preparing to call for assistance. the chatterbox beetle explained. Intrigued. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. At one stage. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. Bleary-eyed. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. They had a rope. “This is my esteemed colleague. The other was lean. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. Bella sent them. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. “I’m Julius Pringles. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring.” he said. He could hear the door opening. I’m hoping it will
. Shaven-headed. he was distracted by a cough. Mr Clean. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. a celebrity camel. You may also have heard that we get what we want.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. “Let me guess. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. Get ready to run for it. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). It was a smell he recognised from way back when. You may have heard of us. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. allegedly. by fair means or foul. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. And squeezed. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. P&G shakedown. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. he picked himself up. A camel was outside. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. Naturally. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity.” Louis snarled. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. mean and muscular. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness.Chapter Sixteen
Groaning. turning defence into attack. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. no one could hear brands scream. They were going to pull the bars out. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. The cry caught in his throat. In Cin City.
hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. moreover. Pantene Pro-V enriched. Veritably.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. asswipe. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. Under normal circumstances. While wearing a girlie pantsuit.” Pringles ordered. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. Louis?” Playing for time. Julius. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand
. Clearly. Is that what you’re saying. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. Ping. the one that controls cross-dressing. a board. “You know I can’t tell you that. However. One-handedly. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. The persecutor paused.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. “And grease in just a minute. the pain would have been intolerable. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. It was P&G water.be fair. with a butt-ripping jerk. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. Ping. Ping. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. “Take it easy. come to think of it. It contained a chair. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. Sorry. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle.” the lynx sang tunelessly. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. past the Noid who’d nodded off. “Let’s find out what he knows first. Not so surprising. Ping. both literally and metaphorically. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. began dragging him out of the cell. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. With enormous effort. Without pausing for breath. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. Surprisingly feminine forename. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. With a bestial bellow. a bucket. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve.” Clean went crazy. This was no ordinary water. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Instinctively. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. Mr Clean will clean your house. Stoically.
They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days.” Louis retorted. eyes glinting. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. They’re about to abandon your brand name. though. Wouldn’t they?
. Louis. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. “Five precision blades.” he spluttered. You don’t owe Unilever anything. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. Rrrrrrr. “I could do with a shave. he slowly turned the great wooden handles.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. he asked Louis to reconsider. especially for so little reward.” Muscles bulging. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. The one without the battery. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. it was costing him a small fortune. Cursing and swearing.” “Correct.” “Glad to hear it. “Tell us what we want to know. fraught though they had been.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. Quickly and efficiently. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. Make it easy on yourself. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. But he had miscalculated. It’s the best a brand can get. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him.” Admirable though it was. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. Howling with fury. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. Strangely. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. pate glistening. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books.secrets. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. which creaked and groaned from want of use. His training kicked in. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. he tied Louis down.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. Yes. He had overlooked one crucially important item. “Nice lather. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. Mostly. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. Masochistically shaving against the grain. “Recognise this?” he raged. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. The ladies like it that way.” Clean crowed. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. Even at wholesale prices. It’s common knowledge. though. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand.
The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours.” Louis gasped. “Kill him. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. gibbering wreck in no time. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt.Clean was getting nowhere fast. He really did.”
. then turned to go. But securely bound and helplessly splayed. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. “It doubles as a tickling stick. Cats love a tickle. By blindly following Gladwell. the American management guru. Are you ticklish. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. “You learn something new every day. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. they tell me. It was time for a change in tactics. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles.” Pringles said. “Try the swiffer. “We blindsided you with that one. he was a giggling. I never knew that. Clean.” “Cool.” Pringles suggested. though. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. electrostatically. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. “Well. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault.” Pringles said. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few.” Louis tried to resist. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache.
But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. Pegasus was basically kind. but wish three was unnecessary. We can talk to ACME. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. keep body and soul together. move the merchandise. First.” Unconvinced. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. Far from leading Louis to his doom. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. Your prices are competitive. He was capitalism in microcosm. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. cut corners. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. make the sale. 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. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. The reason rather was that. release the furry football prisoners. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. They weren’t part of the plot. Second. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. That little brand of yours has potential. keen to do good. They had raised the stakes. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. as gods go. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. bluffed the brusque beast and. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away.”
. when the chips were down. ethical. He couldn’t help it. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. “It’s nothing.” Orlov lied authoritatively.Chapter Seventeen
I Heart Darkness
Pegasus cracked. They were part of the plot against the plot. “But see your vet anyway. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. Third. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. which was worrying for a working dromedary. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. Not long after liftoff. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. He was on a rescue mission.” “What about you. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. Reluctantly. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. Qualitywise. just perfect for recessionary times. He owed them three wishes. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image.
the brand band agreed. Nobody loves us.” Pegasus snorted. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. Forthright as ever. I’m in the dingleberry business. Decrepit. half as old as time.com basin. sludgy and sluggish. That vessel will take you there. there might be one or two. with a slight cough of embarrassment. “What’s this?” Bella asked. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. but no further. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. “we’re coming in to land. He’d take them as far as he could. closely-packed settlements. he’d learned something from the Roc. The beetle had a business to run. There’s the Raid Bugs. “The objective you seek is upstream. “Okay. As far as most people are concerned. as brand names go. Although Bella didn’t like heights. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation.” Louis chipped in. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. the threesome took off.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. snaking camel trains. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. rolled before them. And. gradually descending through the clammy clouds.” the flying horse finally announced. herds of wild horses. dotted with iridescent oases. dusty brown but infinitely variegated.” Orlov added. Bella. Pegasus was getting frisky too. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. There’s Caterpillar. soaring up and away.” He circled and banked and glided. “This is as far as I go. Flashes of lightning. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. laid into the winged god. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. A vast river.” There was no persuading him. “specially designed for young children. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. okay. though. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. Evidently. A flurry of feathery flutters later. they came to rest beside a small jetty. Not as beautiful as the jungle. one step above slugs and snails.“I’m a dung beetle. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. But dung beetles are persona non grata. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. With no realistic alternative. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. Pegasus didn’t pause. yet beautiful. “Hold tight. How dare he drop them
. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. It was forbidding.
aka Iglo. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye. You’re no loss.” “Captain Birdseye. X-tra strong mints. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye.” Louis said nothing. 4X beer. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. Birdseye showed them around. I presume. You’re a joke. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. You don’t belong in BrandLand. snapped open its wings.” Bella ventured.” Orlov contributed. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. apparently. Campbell’s Soup. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. energy: X-Factor. A grey-bearded.” the captain conceded. K-X soda. KFC. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Calvin Klein. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. open-faced figure. Earnestly. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. “I guess we better get going then.” They didn’t know how it was. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. There wasn’t much to see: a
. A flash in the pan website. “Betty Crocker. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. but as long as they keep the Captain part. I don’t particularly mind. 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. excitement. “Have a nice day. “I intend to. “Yes. modestly.” “Correct.” Feeling a little left out. plosives. “Welcome to the jungle. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. landlubbers. Coca-Cola. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. X-series sports cars. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. you see.” a cordial voice chortled. up and away. P-P-P-Penguin. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. “The B-sound’s effective too. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. aspirates. sibilants. “I can see into the future. It’s the k-sound. Welcome on board. X-Box.” he corrected.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. “Captain Iglo. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. brothers and sister. Kit-Kat.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. You know how it is. They use my proper name in Britain. Krispy Kreme. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. Hence Kodak.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. The old salt nodded sagely. “Compare the market.” With that.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. with its connotations of edginess. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. “I’m called Iglo in France.
With a barf and a bellow.” He nodded. every air miles offer. “Before you ask. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. every lucky winner draw. We’ve been on a long journey. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. “So. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged. albeit steady as she goes. done that.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance.” “I think it’s exhaustion. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis.” Birdseye replied. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans.” Eyes twinkling. Progress was slow. After the requisite toot of the whistle. Just. I know treasure seekers when I see them. The jetty was soon behind them and. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. a gimcrack forecastle. “There are three tributaries. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. it’s called by some. And was wearing it under his uniform. It’s pretty inhospitable country.” “I wasn’t going to ask. every free gift scheme. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. Sceptical yet intrigued. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. Diet’s the least turbulent. Bella.” she said. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. The Trove of Death.compact cabin. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. “The ACME Horde. Every sales promotion. at the Rainforest Café syrup works.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. Captain Birdseye cast off. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. Captain. it was a plausible brand yarn and. However. Classic and Zero. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. “I’ll take your word for it. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. bought the T-shirt. He’d been there. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene. steering a route of least resistance. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. As shipshape as they’d ever be. by others. stained with jolly jack tar. Diet. it shouldered its way upstream. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. lost in their own thoughts.” “Right. every loyalty
. as if unconvinced by her reply. “Taste it. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander. “The Cokenoco.” He handed her an old pewter cup. not to say faintly ludicrous. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them.
In return for a fee. scratch card. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. every collect the tokens. reward or guarantee. every money off voucher. win a million.”
. who sells it on. win a holiday. According to old wives’ tales. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality.card. And it’s buried in them thar hills. win a car. complete the sentence. privilege card redeemable premium. that is. win a house. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings.
shoving aside the creepers and climbers. The noise was deafening. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. 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.G. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. screaming the praises of P.” Grinning despite herself. The path was narrow but passable. the MGM lion. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. Louis and Orlov disembarked. Guinness is good for you”. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. “Must be a nightmare after a storm.” he said. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. It’s big in Brazil.” “I’ll say. “Intuition. “You can’t miss it. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. as Bella. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. Tony. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. Burning Bright
The jungle closed in. “The horror. guys. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and.” the lynx intervened. they forged forcefully ahead. It was humid. Riboflavin. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. A trail of hoof. Niacin.” “It’s okay. “Calcium. the Exxon tiger. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles.” Orlov winked at Bella. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly.” the old boatman added.” Orlov murmured. The horror.Chapter Eighteen
Tony. “It’s that way.” it parroted. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims. Every so often. to everyone’s relief. “No added sugar. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. Guinness is good for you. catchphrases and suchlike. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. in a foot race. Tips. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. However.” she observed. It was hot. The throbbing ceased. as the going got increasingly rutted. slogans. Screeches. She didn’t want to know. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops.
. “I got it covered. “Instinct?” Bella asked. “I’ll wait for you. if a trifle slippery. Her companions didn’t disagree. yammering at top speed. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. or had been fairly recently. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. straplines. It’s one of our special editions.
A great shout of glee rose up
. Boom-boom. Boom-boom. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. posters. Chuckling. With a blood-curdling yell.listening intently from time to time. must have carried for many. was scattered around the periphery. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. The clammy heat was. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. “Advent. it didn’t last long. Orlov and Louis looked worried. Bella burst out laughing. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. Boom. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. many miles. Boom. cut cases. coupons. The drumming stopped. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. Boom. then a third. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. easing a succulent aside. “Ssssssshhhhhh. minus the vocal accompaniment.” “Ssssshhhhh.” Louis was less than impressed.” Bella hissed. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. big brand in west Africa.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. decidedly unpleasant. “Let’s just watch and wait. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. Emboldened. brandishing a burning brand. dump bins. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. they inched forward and. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. a big. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. Unfortunately.” Orlov whispered. though they weren’t the centre of attention. Fast as the cobra was. Suddenly. If ACME’s behind this. as the ceremony proper commenced. Boom. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. A second drummer joined in. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. shelf-talkers. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. as well they might. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. This was no ordinary ceremony. however. Boom-boom. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. Boom. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. the high priest of high fashion. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. The crowd held its breath. Boom. if not quite unbearable. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre.
Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. Without further ado. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. She started peeling off her skin. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. those whose side-bets were misplaced. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. as a groan escaped from the majority. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. Ingeniously. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. the cruiserweight climax of the card. The polar bear burst asunder. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. with fighting as part of the fun. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. His followers showered him with confetti-
. Bella concluded that Louis was right. Then another brand character contest kicked off. Howling with bestial abandon. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. The first combatant strode in imperiously. the main event. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. seductively. belly dancing. she started dancing. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. circled slowly searching for an opening. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear.from one group of onlookers. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. Clearly. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. as the onlookers went ape. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. Transfixed. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. slowly. In his top hat and monocle. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. Which of course it did. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. meanwhile. Luckily. This also ended on a disappointing note. because a lot of money had been lost. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. Booing derisively. Miss Banana. Aghast at the brand butchery. removed his monocle and. pretending it had steamed up. however. Mr Peanut. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. she encouraged the crowd to join in. Peanut paused. 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. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. The response was lukewarm. The drums started up again. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace.
like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the
opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.
Brands Can Only Get Better
Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.
The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the
since they are exposed to them more frequently. of continuing with the same basic proposition. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. If anything. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. shook him down. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. brand. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. 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. eddies. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. Bella wasn’t so sure. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. Izod and analogous alligators. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. chewed the fat about brand longevity. shallows. slow parenting and so on. after asking what was biting. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. rapids. which was a first for Mustapha. of conviction. They stopped. whirlpools. He was a Mars Inc. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. The river got narrower and narrower. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. Understandably. similar to slow food. exchanged greetings and. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore.
. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. slow travel. 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. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. He knew what P&G were capable of. and whisked him off to meet his doom. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. But she said nothing.form of sandbanks. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. apropos of nothing. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. the jungle less and less dense. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. The captain said they were Crocs. He’d been there. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. CEOs need to chill a little. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. The lynx laughed it off. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. A strange strain of fish. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. But not right away. He added. top-hatted and smirking.
run a few errands.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. Barclays Bank.” Mustapha said.” “No. “They’re all at it nowadays.As the brand band slid upstream. No sweat. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. The Michelin Man.” Louis continued. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). the Johnnie Walker whisky character. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.” Orlov gasped. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue.” Bella contradicted. “Who?” “Bibendum. no. like little boys playing truant. in an awestruck voice. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. allowing for the onrushing current. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. “They were airbrushed. The overweight icon said nothing. wondering if they could do anything for him. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. Mustapha looked confused. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand.” “He’s big. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably.” Louis said. he’s really let himself go. all right. right in front of the distended inner tube. Not far ahead of them. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll.” Louis sighed. There were no signposts to speak of. “Five star restaurants. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. they spotted Strider. He looked in pretty good shape. That’s definitely not Doughboy. believe me.” “Heaven help us. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser.” Orlov quipped. either. At a bend in the river. held her steady in the centre of the stream. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs. a superhuman snowman. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. though not inaccurately. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa.” “Photoshop. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. asking after his welfare. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany.” Bella snapped. He doles out the awards. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. bigger than the Marlboro Man. Louis and Orlov fell about. The remains of a massive
. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. “Jeez. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. He throttled back and. even though he knew he shouldn’t. don’t forget. more like. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat.
A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. ravaged by fine wines. White to start. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. Before long. but he still said nothing. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. “I think it’s a statue.” But it wasn’t. “It isn’t alive. And it was. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb. Smiling appreciatively. The blimp burped instead.” Orlov said. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers.
. Red thereafter. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. the mist descended.
at least. Bella bellowed back. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. pulsing intermittently. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. sometimes to port. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. such as it was.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. “What do you reckon. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. There was Google’s Android software icon. Bella stood in the forecastle. She could sense it. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. “Maybe back in the good old days. “Area 51. Another loud hum struck up to port. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens.Chapter Twenty
All Your Brands Are Belong to Us
The mist was thin at first. he gurned from time to time. Brand abduction. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. touch it.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. A humming sound started up to starboard. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Orlov?” Bella called. “But in this day and age. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. right? Since the 1950s. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and
. UFOs. There was Quisp. Little green men. Her brain had gone numb. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. “We’re entering Aliens country. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond.” he shouted. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. She couldn’t think of any more. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. There’s nothing to worry about. practically. The fug literally vibrated at one point. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself.” More in hope than expectation. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. like an air raid siren. sometimes to starboard. sometimes arcing across the sky. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. ACME was within her grasp. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. No good will come of this. Taking command once more. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. They moved around above them. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. Close encounters. She had other things to attend to. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. smell it. But Bella wasn’t listening. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear.
legs lashing. he gave up. Spectral silence reigned. An intense stare. it was definitely the colossus of brands. “Hush. Ho. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. to the tableland above. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. A dull rumble roared ahead.” With a natural nautical flair. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. “This is Fanta Falls. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. The buzzing had stopped. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. He’s done his duty by us. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. The acme. Before long. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. “I know where we are. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. The captain’ll come round soon enough.yammering that prevented rational thought. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. even. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. rather. sucking his thumb. Without pausing for breath. broke out his wings and took flight. Said they were legendary. The landing lights had moved on. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. allegedly. Eventually. bracken patches. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. They’re impassable.” Orlov did the needful. Bella’s band were close. There’s no point persecuting him any further. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. Several flights of stairs later. they mounted purposefully. Ho. as a wall of fizzy water. bramble
. Louis made to tie the tub up. “This is where we get off. Brand stretch is bad news. The epitome.” she shouted to Louis. “Please. though. A vast orange sodafall. let her go. bubbling and fizzing. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump.” she called. It got louder and louder.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. cut into the living rock. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. presumably to another planet. The lull didn’t last. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. feelers flailing. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. “Shut him up. flitting ahead of the astonished posse.” Bella hissed. Smirking despite their perilous situation. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. At the side of the falls.” Louis didn’t disagree. Bella licked the side of her beak. someone. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. eyeball-melting orange in hue. very close. but Bella said no. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. flight by flight.
cold. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. Certainly. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. “It’s Professor Kipling. I suspect. to be precise. while trying to work out where they were. surely. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. cold. As they drew closer to the structure. “and then see what’s what. almost art deco. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. “I just don’t get it. Bella was bewildered. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. more beautiful still were the students. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. It was a university. a new university. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. neo-classical pastiche. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. As Bella and the boys strolled past.” he said. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. The others gathered round to do likewise. Bibendum. grikes and runnels ahead. too. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. Beefeater. Truth. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. of course. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities.bunches and hardy karst grasses. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways.” she said. However. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student
. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. They set off for the administrative building. He was right. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. wall-mounted day planners. According to a poll in Time magazine. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. nothing less than BrandLand University College.
while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. “Excellent. while holding open the heavy glass door. “Enter. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor.” a melodious voice responded. There’s hope for us yet. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline. rats.” “Actually.” Orlov corrected. They knocked politely.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. That’s a good thing.s. if not exactly in seventh heaven. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. Picke Bicke mouse. Top medics are always called Mister. Exasperated. Kipling’s door was at the very end. They piled into the lift and.” Bella noted.”
. Pekkle the duck. He winked by way of replying. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect.” Mustapha crowed.” “Great. “It’s Mr Kipling. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. a.” There was indeed. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. Bella shook her head.p. mouthing bowwow for good measure.a.body. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. a few moments later. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. Louis. a kind of inverted snobbery. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about.” “He’s in. Louis would have volunteered to help. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. Not him too. “This is the place. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. “He isn’t a professor after all. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker.” Orlov sighed. Don’t be bashful. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. It’s even more elevated than Professor. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically.” he shouted. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. disappeared into the belly of the beast. “Enterrrrr. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. 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 few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties. “At last. Understandably. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. then reappeared waving excitedly. “There’s a board by the door that says so. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. Pochacco the dog.
then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. Orlov shrugged.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression.
. Undeterred. and pushed. thought about things for a second. Bella took a deep breath. raised her flipper. Louis nodded.
Statues of cats. that it would be filled with books and not much else. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. She imagined. and several others she didn’t recognise. etc.Chapter Twenty-one
Perfectly Good Fakes
Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. “only for cats?” Smiling. all ceramic. what few portrayals there are. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. She was right on the first count. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. As Bella gazed around the room. which stretched from floor to ceiling. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. There were paintings by Catavaggio. smiling obsequiously. Dozens of them. His handlebar
.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. “Is that like the glass ceiling. Books there were. all silent. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. Salvadore Kitty. somehow. as product spokespersians. Whereas dogs are everywhere. Cataletto. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. as brand mascots. “Before you ask. with black necktie and starched collar. are often negative. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. though most of these were open and in use. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. It was the statues that surprised her.” she asked. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced.” Mr Kipling said. Catstable. curled in a ball. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. Pussain. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. but not on the second. dewy eyed. She didn’t know what to expect. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. cats are discriminated against and. “First. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. “Second. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. But there were long chains of Russian cats. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling.
with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm.” he called. about flipper fatigue. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. it transpired. Louis. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors.” Kipling conceded. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. Bella inhaled deeply.” Kipling said. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. “I see. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. unerring. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. or said he did. However there was a good reason for that. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Black Beauty. peering at her intently. along with the space-invader sound effects. much less the BrandLand University campus. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. “I see. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. then rose to greet his visitors. To all intents and purposes. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. The patriarch pushed back his chair. rose from his desk. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. since the brand was a lynx in name only. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. “Let me show you something. he was less impressed by. when the English Literature department came up for discussion.
. He knew her grandfather well. He recognised Bella right away. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. turning to Orlov. He rubbed his chin idly. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. clandestine success. nor the surrounding countryside. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. As it was true confessions time. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. “Correct. Orlov. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. lost in thought. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. Indeed.” Kipling said calmly. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science.” he continued. proper. industrious. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. intellectual acuity. “And you.
This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. “what is it? The students?” Smiling.” Bella said. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. let alone a committee that calls the shots. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. used by all and sundry. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. with a
. Bella. where we study black swans. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. unprotected by copyright or trademark. ACME is a generic term. Bella. With a start. worried looks on their faces. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. The clouds parted. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. I take it. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. There is no controlling force. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. Toad of Toad Hall. The Gruffalo. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. She tried again. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. “Take a sip. Call of the Wild. animal emblem products in particular. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below.Animal Farm. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. a glass of hard liquor in hand.” “An exceedingly good fake. “We’re talking about a state of mind. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. surrounded by plaster cats. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. Mr Kipling sat beside her. She’d been out for hours. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. “So. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. Bella awoke.” At a loss.” he said. “It’s more intangible than that.” A light went on above her head.” “In a way. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. to Kipling’s irritation. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. It’s a fake. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. Bella.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. Bella was too stunned to respond. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment. What you see. Everything became clear.” Orlov quipped. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. “If it’s not any of the buildings. Bad as capitalism can be. purple cows. Academy Country Mammal Education. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. the Hare and the Tortoise. The Ugly Duckling. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. Watership Down.
” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. Very impressed. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. All this way for what? What indeed. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. We need people like you round here. He succumbed. however. raising a flipper in protest. aren’t they? Angel cake. I’m okay. separates the inseparable. to her companions’ relief. “I’m impressed.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. she thought.
. “Almond slices. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. renders the similar dissimilar.twinkle in his eye. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. Aleksandr. or so the story goes. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. someone once said. especially in these days of instant results. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact.” Bella said. say. instant impact…or else. “I’m not hungry. “This isn’t a snack. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. Kipling returned to his desk. However.” Disappointed. I could acquire a taste for that. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. You should consider a career in academia. “It’s Curvoisier brandy.” The meerkat nodded sagely. distilled from dead dogs. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. As Bella sat up. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection.” With a good-try smile. “We live in a world of identical products. “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. It’s a test. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. Curvoisier delivered. though. just like these slices of cake. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. instant returns.” With a knowing look. Orlov dropped his eyes. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. One was right in front of the lynx. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. Effective branding is a very slow process. instant rewards. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. It looked and smelled delicious. The rewards are enormous in the end. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. He was starving. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. then stowed the bottle away. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. perhaps? Apple pie. emphasising. It was a rhetorical question. “These are the essence of branding.” he said. “Oh. Exactly. though. “Branding. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. “Exactly. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. Mr Kipling replenished her glass.
” “I still don’t see. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin.” Bella said. You swallow the competition. Louis struck his best cute cat pose. “I think you do.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed.” Louis added. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face. It’s cheap. Exactly.. You establish a monopoly. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices.” Mr Kipling replied. He needn’t have bothered. “Exactly.” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. at least in the short run. eyeing up the other slice. fast and effective.”
. his rudeness. finishing her brandy..
The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes
But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. was counter-cyclical. his call for a cull of isabellines. Had it been McKitty. He wanted power. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. The irony. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. as did the early 1900s. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. Bella had never heard the expression before. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. in short. the suckers at the centre of it all. is that penguins are as popular as ever. Models and Explanations. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. emperors. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. Humankind. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. The demand for spokescreatures. according to Kipling. to say nothing of tourists. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. when western capitalism also wobbled. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. designed to make his breed the boss. It was a blatant power-play. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. If anything. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. rather. they were much less photogenic than adélies. Captain Birdseye. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. Dogs’d do anything. those that walk or stand upright
. Next are bipedal animals. Bella cursed herself bitterly. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. frankly. though.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. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. He’d concocted a credible external threat. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. say anything. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. Accordingly. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. However. swear to anything. was motivated by self-interest. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. Michelin Man. Breed-interest. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. Cute critters remind them of childhood. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. Le Penguin didn’t want that. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. As did the Great Chain of Branding. chinstraps or rockhoppers. his slaughter of the innocents. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. It was a barefaced act of political brawn.
Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. Beaten. guys. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. “I think it’s time to go. most notably bears. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. However. or possibly rockhoppers. The Great Chain explained a lot. They hugged. She was going to miss him. though not as far down as six-legged. Clearly. much less millipedes. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines.in semi-human fashion. Literally. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. sadly. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. Not yet.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. She recalled. Worse. Not by a long chalk. Le Penguin had won. naturally. She’d fallen for it. monkeys. by and large. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. Louis seemed excited. the climax of Animal Farm. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. sheep. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. they say. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. or so she believed. They were a study in contrasts.” Louis said. given its size and growth prospects.” Bella purred. penguins. The entire journey had been a waste of time. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. Not completely. cats. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. tigers. She’d been a fool. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. She turned to her companions. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. She glanced across at Kipling. to the top of the penguin pile.” “Actually. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. dogs. with shame. “I’ll be staying here for a while. rhinos. Easy-going as a rule. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. they’d been living on a pig’s back. “Rrrrrrrrr. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. is red in tooth and claw. Quadrupeds like cows. She’d been outsmarted. Branding. spiders and cockroaches. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. But all was not lost.
. Recession. Bella felt fit to be tied. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. crocodiles are further down the rankings. Bella. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. because penguins had done pretty well. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. Well beaten. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. She’d been beaten. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. at bottom. meerkats and prairie dogs. where only the fittest and most vicious survive.
“That’s our Simples secret. Attenborough. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. which was sure to prove provocative.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. Thanks.” he giggled. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. Trim It. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. condiments and preserves.” Mirthful. I’m a fad. I could do with it. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. To his shame and embarrassment. She held him tightly.” the great brand man chuckled. the way I skimmed so many others. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. Cook It. as well as with sauces. before whispering in his ear.Sad-faced. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. “I think we can do better than that. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. Scoff It. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug.” She leant forward. Shoot It. with a come-here gesture to Louis. I’m afraid. “If ever you need…” “Yes. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. “I’m staying too. Bella. Toast It. for example. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. I’m a fraud. I’m Flat Eric 2. the vaunted TV naturalist. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. The meerkat was mistaken. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. including Catch It. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. Skin It. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). kissed him on the cheek and. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. But I skimmed that particular entry. I know. and the not so highly regarded Department of
. Aleksandr.” he said. “Why’s that. However. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. Apparently. Bella.” Touched.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. Clean It. Cambridge. Still chatting. Ever proper. “You gave Kipling the look. “I’ve got a lot to learn. for starters. eyes shining with meerkat tears. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. Her latest was called Snare It. You’re too kind. Taste It.” Louis laughed. Beaten to his own punch line. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. he looked forward to attending her lecture. Follow me. “Thanks. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. “…and. Assam.0. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. pickles. I know.
They were a perfect fit. Eventually. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. Mustapha.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak. plus matching undergarments. raw material. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. “All sold out. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. “After you’ve cleaned up here.” Orlov said. however. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. before you know it. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall.” With a flourish.Popular Culture. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. “But where?” Louis inquired. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. I’m a desert rat. Bella tried them on. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. she looked like a sacred ibis. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. all with a snazzy scarab logo. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. don’t you know. With six legs and a little get up and go. Before long. So much so. All six of them. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner. Can’t stand the cold. though. Mustapha stared at them askance. “I’ve got something for you.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. the great
. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. credit…” No less nonplussed. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. Her utter amazement. lookingood-ladies palaver. suppliers. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces. With the hood up. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. beehives. and. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus.” He rubbed his claws again. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. “I like this place. bobcat’s your uncle. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium.” “No can do. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. ponytails. “But surely.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. “You might be needing these for your journey. they emerged into a compact. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. one Mustapha Midden.” “Many claws make light work. while rubbing his legs gleefully. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. “you need permission.” He reached behind the makeshift counter.” Orlov said. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. “But how?” Bella asked. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. Under normal circumstances. bookstore. the throng dispersed.
the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. the arbiter. On Kipling’s call. she was gone. the scribe. Louis. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. where she awaited further instructions. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand.
. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. Bella hugged Aleksandr. then mounted her de luxe conveyance.
She asked instead about the brand. I am. Why. serene. If he’d been on this Rolls. “They don’t make ’em like you. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. As they rose to their cruising altitude. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. yah. 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. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. But after Pegasus and the Roc. much less defeated fierce macaronis. Ogilvy hated flying.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. which revealed the many and varied glories of BrandLand – from Best Buy Bay in the west and Dollar Tree Swamp way down south to Radio Shack Mountain Range in the east – she decided to give it a go anyway. “Yah. Bella was spellbound. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. she asked. During the appeasement era. Isaac and Nina. Bella replied in the affirmative. she had lost her best friend. “We fiddled while the brand burned. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. anymore.Chapter Twenty-three
Who Was That Masked Mascot?
They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. luxurious. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. Faint heart never won fair mermaid.” she said. suffice it to say. If not quite Anna Karenina. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. apparently. she was getting used to it. Paris Humboldt. She had nothing to lose. She had lost her parents. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself.” “Rather. with impenetrable jungle on either side.” Ecstasy said immodestly. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy?
. So did Bella. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. Bella thought. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. the offbeat plan solidified. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. lowly place though it was. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. “You’re looking well on it. As they flew over Fanta Falls. redolent of Roedean. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. Bella didn’t hold that against her. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. though.” she replied diplomatically. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. It was true what they said. under German ownership.
He sounded crazier than ever. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. Perched on the back of a flying angel. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. even though she’d no home to go to. a penguin power play. The muster was much better organised. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. Almost instantly. Bella felt a chill in the air. Sad. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. wrapped up
. all shouting as one. Suddenly she could.“That’s where we went wrong. She could see them pointing their flippers. He’s a tyrant. all equidistant. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. Bella could feel herself welling up. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. “Yes.” “Tell the tale. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. though some adélies looked up. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. It was beautiful too. look. 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. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. She was home. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau.” “Quite.” All talked out. taking in the incredible apparition above them. Better yet. the Iceland ice shelf. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. It’s a trick. She could see the Homebase Glacier. She couldn’t make it out at first. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. Before long. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. Look. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. an enormous shocked intake of breath.” Taken aback. Bella whirled round. More and more turned round and faced skywards. it was bitter. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. don’t fall for it. It was déjà vu all over again. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. Bella believed. A murmur commenced. Outraged. The bitterer the better.” Ecstasy sighed. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. she mused. It was wonderful. make the sale.” Carried away on the wind. folks. all regimented. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. Bella screeched at the multitude below. It was invigorating. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. I suppose. Buffeted by howling winds. in the far distance. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. the deep blue Boots crevasses. except that there were more macaronis than before. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. looking for a suitable landing site. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. moreover.
as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. I met him. in delight and relief. head covered in an enormous cowl. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. a messenger. another rises. “According to the Meow Jones Index. Even macaronisation won’t save us. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. “There is a solution. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. they seemed to say. the coming creature is the prairie dog. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. however. a shot across the bows. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. Having planted the seed of hope. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. it needed several seconds to germinate. “Seize the day. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. Bella swallowed. Inadvertently. She took a deep breath. The crowd gasped again. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. however. She knew she only had one shot. a sign. with only her beak protruding. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. It was hard to control her anger. Would it were otherwise. We’re all macaronis now. a way out for us all. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. It requires a little lateral thinking. followed by those of gentoo descent. But he couldn’t interrupt. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. There is no hope for us. She held fire.in a great taupe cloak. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. These were the people who’d killed her parents.”
. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. He vacated the microphone. Very risky. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. It was risky. Denunciation was doomed. Antithesis. as her image appeared on the giant screen. The entire crowd squawked in horror. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. had finally arrived.” Bella announced to the multitude. Emperors. which of course is our community’s speciality. here on behalf of ACME.” She paused again. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. “I am. As one creature falls in human estimation. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. it seemed. She bit her lip. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin.” she whispered to herself. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. while pulling back her khaki cowl. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. she must have been a baleful sight. However. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. Ten days ago. because she was one of their own. He quickly regained his composure. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. All brands must pass. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. as he tried to work out her angle. The Ibis.
” the audience shouted. emperors emperors. Suddenly. This is a heavy price. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. “Fear not. Bella thought. It was all or nothing. critter. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. she turned away from the podium. The old order would re-establish itself. Even our most extravagantly crested species. like us. Not bemused. will have to depilate. She already had. a little like isabellines. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. And take your tufts with you.”
. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. Prairie dogs are tuftless. Victorious. of togetherness. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. “I want my MuMi. one for all. asshole. Kings could be kings. “Fellow penguins. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. but the rewards are enormous. royals royals. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. She had another card to play. though.” There was complete silence for a second. The gentoos jumped for joy. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. It was the riskiest of the lot. But with a sick slimeball like you. No more macaronisation. of all for one. where you belong. Penguins are passé. “It means removing all tufts.The audience exchanged glances. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. even though their natural crests would have to go too.” He glared murderously. though. Not sceptical.” she said calmly. we’ll cull you. “Every prairie dog has its day. I’ll make an exception. because I’ll be back. Playful as always.” Mmmm. The dream did. They look a little like us. Bristling with rage. as the gathering made up its mind. sadly. penguin parity didn’t exist. “I want my MuMi. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. I know. In reality. “I’ll get you for this. she looked incredible.” “Catch you later.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. No more tufts.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. complete with stylish scarab logo. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. I want my MuMi.” “Not today you won’t. such as our beloved macaronis. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs.” “Don’t cull us. The blackfoots went bananas. Having won over the doubters. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. a huge roar of approval rent the air. Enjoy it. They live in large communities like us. Today is my day. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. you isabelline bitch. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. No more hairpieces.
As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. mashups and graphic novels. Thoughts of her dead friend. be it the iPod. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. Still. was draining away inexorably. She never really did. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. admittedly. True. However. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. trampled on though they were. Alone with her thoughts. she told herself. according to Mr Kipling. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. Look on the bright side. Donald Duck. since penguin popularity had never been higher. Pixar and Dreamworks. if not his totemic tufts. Akin to chained animals in their phone.Chapter Twenty-four
Love the Skin You’re In
The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. the more they exploited it. 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. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. there were MuMis to move. Orlov had said. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. Stuart Little on the one hand. She didn’t belong anymore.and laptop-equipped cubicles. Finny too. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. Sean the Sheep on the other. For ever. In the meantime. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. Where there’s muck there’s brands. prevalent though pigeonholing was. but really didn’t now. Mickey Mouse. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. Except it didn’t last long. After receiving the congratulations of the Adarctic colony – even the emperors deigned to speak with her – and after recounting an edited version of her adventures to all who asked. all adélies keen to assist their mottled
. The cuter the critter. or to complain about stereotyping. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. they dreamed dreams of freedom. 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. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. she’d never felt so lonely. It was unnecessary. she had a job to do. Rin Tin Tin. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. Thoughts of her late parents.
She stared over the edge of the glacier. “I hope you realise. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. On a whim. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. I’ll be passing on P&G. smiling at the strangely distant memory. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. Mummies are special. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. especially to those without them. Laughing. Ciao. Mummies mean a lot. However. Seemed pretty stout. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. Mustapha. She glanced around.” she chided. many maintain. Mustapha. if there were problems with build quality. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. such as it was. who was hard at work on his furballs. was drawing in. Bella. you know. It was time to pay her final respects. The sun was low in the sky. the ride was really rather thrilling. Evening. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. darling.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest. She checked her MuMi ensemble. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent.” “I hope you realise. because they already embody the brand.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and.deliverer. “that there are forty million cats up north.
. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. The crevasse caught her eye. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. Mustapha changed the subject.” “Goody! Gotta go. she Skypied Mustapha. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. suffice it to say. She felt the material with a flipper. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. “I’ll work on it.” Mustapha countered. she said her fashionista farewells. Air kiss. air kiss. No one was looking. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. let alone satanic macaronis.” With a smile of admiration. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. “I’ll be needing agents. Logistics. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. She had a busy time ahead of her. Bella was all alone. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. Actually.
as there always are. my head hurts. to no avail. She bounced over bumps several times. Paris. She’d forgotten how fast it was. She tried to kick the thing off. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. The looming twosome merged into one. She pushed and pushed and pushed. A sheet anchor. the great divide. She corkscrewed like crazy. Alarm bells ringing. Both of them did.”
. Head throbbing. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. It got caught around her ankles. apart from that downpour up the jungle. Bella shook her head.” “I…I…I…Oh. screaming. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. Pepsi-cola Blue. The kaleidoscopic colours. but was far too fearful to care. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. She hurtled round bends. water-resistant. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. the precipitous final plunge. it descended through IBM Blue. she remembered the wall of death. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. Waterlogged. Go faster. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. in fact. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. young woman. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. Pale Tiffany blue to start. “Izzy. trying to focus. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. punctuated by periods of blind panic. no way. more like. But only for a second. BMW Blue. were incredible to behold. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. A death sentence. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. eyes watering. “You should be ashamed of yourself. the warp-factor slide into the sea. across the bay.” Bella dived head-first into the void. Despite her abject terror. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. her death wish. unquestionably. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. beak aching. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof.“Weeeeeeeeee. The previous ride was coming back to her. Isaac and Nina. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. shrieking with alarmed laughter. She could see stars. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face.” he observed. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. not looking where she was going. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. moaning and groaning. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. Recklessly. past slackjawed. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. however. yourself especially. All of a sudden. howling. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. more like. slow-witted leopard seals. Uncle Izzy.
surrounded by screens. They assumed the worst. head completely clear. she didn’t know what to say. worried sick. Bella’s parents came to join her. They all talked at once. They couldn’t find her. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. to his delighted consternation. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. no. Ecstatic. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. She peeped anxiously over the screen. Plans to get a real job. Without a by your leave. followed his indicative flipper. manifestly in mourning. what have you been doing with yourself. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. “Worried sick. sleeping gently. all distant relatives. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. you say?” “Yes. “No. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. Daddy.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. “Your parents are worried sick about you.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. She’s happy the way she is. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. and then she saw them. she hugged her parents with all her might. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. daddy. They had their hands full with Paris. you know. she toward them. young lady. There’s a bit of scarring. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. You owe them an apology.”
. backs bowed. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and.” Smiling indulgently. it was Bella’s decision. However. But her outfit saved her. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. Disappearing off like that.” “Miracles never cease. but she’ll live. mummy. looking pale and interesting.” He had her on “are”. Bella scampered across to her best friend. We smuggled her to safety. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. mummy. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. daddy. Staggered. The decision was made.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way. daughter of mine. “Mummy. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. daddy. heads bent. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. Overcome with emotion. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. not knowing what to expect. They rushed toward her. “So. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. Bella leapt up. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. to one side of the wall of death divide. huddled together. dearest. There the heiress was. a proper job.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. “Paris is perfectly fine.” They looked up.
it’s a long story.“What??!!” “As I said.”
. Let me explain.
plans and profitability. who would win?” And. Way back in the early days of the company. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. I have no fucking idea. This crazy fucking bear is fucking with you from a distance and you’re like ‘Damn!’ because you know that this is how people are going to take care of business. So much so.” “Or a plan. and the perfect work will do both. Daisey. “That’s a good question. prospects. Although no topic was taboo. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known.” Needless to say. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. on the web. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas.” “Like a secret message. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. you know. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. 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. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos.com. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. for example.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. Who will win. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. the ebullient founder of Amazon.The Little Penguin That Could
An Afterword on Mashups and More
A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. without fail. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. that at some point in the proceedings. because we need to be the
but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. boring. Aflac duck. We begin with a little bit of backstory. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. And now that BrandLand “exists” – as a kind of Oz with advertising – there’s no reason why it can’t be revisited from time to time. hey. bombastic and.2 Much to my surprise. I cast around for excuses. I didn’t get round to most of them. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. the bears who come equipped. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. I mean. All things considered. though. Jaguar’s jaguar. Maybe. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. petroleum. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. I made a start on several others. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. I surmised. Bears with guns. Some students were blown away. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. Granted. I conceded. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. the case studies in the original – railroads. I mused. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. today’s multi-tasking. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem?
. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. I fully expected the students to respond positively.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. short. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. it pains me to report.armed bears. enthusiastically. admittedly. Maybe. But. Some time ago.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. Maybe. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought.1
Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. favourably. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. interestingly. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. I asked a large group of students to read Ted Levitt’s legendary article “Marketing Myopia” and write down their reactions to the great guru’s words of wisdom. is the secret lovechild of Betty Crocker and the Michelin Man? Are Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima related? Does Morris the Cat eat Charlie the Tuna on Fridays? These are some of the questions I set out to answer in The Penguin’s Progress.3 Taken aback by this reaction. Puma’s puma. and. They found it dull. a sure fire cure for insomnia. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. the students hated Levitt’s essay.
So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. what’s more. the writing role model was Dan Brown. If anything.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. Undeterred. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. secret codes proliferated. The Marketing Code. as a quirk of the Irish. as did Bono. One was the latest management bestseller. Between 2005 and 2008. by the task I’d set myself. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner.
. Once again. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. in effect.Unfortunately. as an aberration. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. Marilyn Monroe. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. much less reading the wretched things. while queuing up for the cash register. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. Let alone thrillers. Nevertheless. as they say. There was only one problem. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. As an inveterate booklover. and The Lost Logo. In my case. But then I noticed something intriguing. You couldn’t make it up. if not undaunted. I had never written fiction before. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing).5 Dead bodies abounded. I did what many novice novelists do. naturally). I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. 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. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. The antidote. clearly. Except that I did. They cost an absolute fortune. tongue-in-cheek. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). When flying around the country. 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. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. Agents & Dealers. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). My students.
was that I tried to do too much. consumer behaviour. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. action sequences especially. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. It seemed like an interesting project and. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. The published reviews were reasonably favourable.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. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. And quite a few of my later ones. Crocs shoes. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. funnily enough. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. Ditto my fiction. Stork margarine. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. True. Red Bull energy drink. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. I now realise that I was trying to write a thriller and a textbook and a comedy and a parody and a campus novel and an integrated trilogy. similarly. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. Nowadays. say. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. By far my biggest mistake. full stop. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. as it gave me
. 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. etc. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. Yes. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. Students. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. though. Like any learner. if truth be told. Essentially.In retrospect. However. of William Golding. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking.). However. pacing. The same is true of fiction. The whole process. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. characterisation and more besides. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. My original intention was to leave things there. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. never mind bring them all together successfully. techniques and writing style of academia. the kernel for the covering. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. 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. chronology. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. I suppose. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist.
the way I did before. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. songs. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. meanwhile. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. Let the brand characters be characters. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. Pom Somkabcharti. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?”
. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. computer applications et al. bits of bytes brought together as books. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. What’s more. In the visual arts. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. are exemplary media mashups. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube.7 In music. he commanded. Stop writing parodies. et al. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Bring the brands to life. I mean. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. In television. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). videos. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. Arabian Nights. the reader. car parking in Tel Aviv. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. In the literary world. wasn’t impressed. the breakup of rock band Oasis. Rob cut through the crap.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. Canterbury Tales. In movies. In this case. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. mashups are digital medleys. admittedly. 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”. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. Rob Williams. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. My brilliant publisher. not unlike those in the Decameron. Whistler. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. The Penguin’s Progress was born. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln.
It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. on roadside billboards. That elephant is called copyright. There’s an elephant in the room. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. for certain consumers at any rate. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. in the main.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. As one commentator ruefully observes:
. let alone Red Lobster. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. True. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. she’s Borden born and bred. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. of late. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. among others).000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. Brand characters are trademarked. Indeed. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. their intellectual property. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. Ask any counterfeiter. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. consumer response has been highly favourable. Charlie the Tuna. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. Jennifer Government. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. between the covers of glossy magazines. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. Pattern Recognition. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. What’s more. That said. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. however. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. though a hardline. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. fan fiction. 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. which features more than 3. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. In a shared narrative space. their copyrights.
their teeth and genital organs. For one thing. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. the standard academic article. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. professional sports teams. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. It does so with satirical intent. This attempt may not be successful. Rob Williams. last but not least. though. 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. Any criticism. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. which explores the interdependency of man and animal:
Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. nations. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. Alun Richards. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. and. live to regret it.
. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. the “Faber Fellowship”. I grant you. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. the dreadful how-to tome. As if. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. 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 with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. hawks or eagles. unconventional ways. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. We seek to empower kingdoms. Madison. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. original. TPP is an attempt to do just that. who was a notorious borrower. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. except for the lawyers. should be directed at me. The Bedside Book of Beasts.10
I can’t deny. Just think of Handel. bears or tigers. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. To normal human beings. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. That’s their prerogative. As pastoralists and sport hunters. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas. then we may all. As a critic by inclination. but the conventional marketing textbook.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. we pulverise their livers and bones. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. however. And yet. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. the genius screenwriter. the author. my incredible family – Linda.
writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. 9899. Speaking personally. You glutton for punishment. I’m acutely conscious that. Yes. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. As with all symbolic representations. for example. and the ancestors of humanity. mine has been reasonably productive. incidentally. This may well be so. Still available from all good charity shops. 2. As a group. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. It’s very widely cited. 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. 3. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. My only defence is that. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. and Christ the Lion of Judah. from Claude and the comic book. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. and body-parts from the earliest of times. helpful or destructive. 5. 1986). the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. such as iPhone apps. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper.com
Notes and References 1. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. or a deceptive mixture of the two. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. The younger generations are prepared to read. London. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. 4. are available in his excellent anthology. whose art takes from then and now. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. Marketing Theory 4 (3). you! If you have any comments on the novel.feathers. 6. Thank you for reading this far. Among northern peoples.
The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. 2004. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. Don’t all rush at once. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. in what seems to be a search
. we need to explore other platforms. New York. scientific and irrational. 2005). Both. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. computer games and videography. See Stephen Brown. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals.Mike Daisey.sfxbrown. bears are renowned spirit guides. 209-238. 7.com (Fourth Estate. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. compared to some mid-life crises. London. 2002). Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. pp. However. experiment and belief. pp. or scavengers. as a card-carrying academic. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss.
10. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. p. New York. Sunday 25 April. Loftus. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. 6-7). 2010). Culture Magazine. “Entering a whole new head space”. 2005) and his more recent polemic. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. pp. The Observer. check out Lawrence Lessig. London. London. 1-23. 9. London. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. Psychology and Marketing. 8. 2010. Kathryn A. Chicago. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. 2009).
. 2008). 5 June. 19 (1). Braun. 21. The Sunday Times. John Naughton. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. 2010. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”.for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. 2008). 2002. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. pp. On the on-going copyright debate.
I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. the Borden cow. this is as it should be because “We are people. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. the Bisto family. Veritably Clean. Johnny English. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). Uncle Ben. assorted Scottish Widows and many. This concept – an admittedly glib adaptation of the medieval belief that all living beings are arranged in accordance with their distance from god – is not a figment of my imagination. the Vlasic stork. or the Noid. Anthropomorphically speaking. 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. the Morton Salt Girl. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. the Bon Ami
. We know a lot about ourselves. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. Most of these mentions. the Coppertone Girl. Fido Dido. Aunt Jemima. the Michelin Man. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Cheeka. Crazy Eddy. the Pets. the HMV dog. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. the Mytag repair man. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. Nipper. all told. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Joe Isuzu. perhaps inevitably. Of this total. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. Hartley. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Pillsbury Doughboy. Bertie Bassett. Morris the Cat. not entirely. the Gold Blend couple. the Hofmeister beer bear.com sock puppet. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom.1 Well. After trawling through websites. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. Howard Brown. my dataset comprised 1. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Ronald McDonald. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. the Vodaphone pug. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. Colonel Saunders.R.151 individual entries. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. are made in passing. J. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. whether it be A Bathing Ape.Appendix
The Great Chain of Branding
Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Julius Pringles. Captain Birdseye. many more.2 It follows. Elsie. such as Hello Kitty. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. a shades-wearing. the Burger King. moreover.
However. anthropomorphic mobile phones. Camel cigarettes. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. vegetables and plants (e. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. fireflies and. Toilet Duck. Woodpecker cider. Cobra beer. Kangaroos sneakers. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. the Lacoste crocodile. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). Penguin books. Crocs shoes. As you might expect. Broadly speaking. Australia of kangaroos. Chiquita Banana. when the space race. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. More recently. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Mr Peanut. Puma sportswear. etc). furthermore. bring up the rear. Betty Crocker. mystify. freedom. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. multiply. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). spiders. mix. In addition to the overall pattern. Wild animals are rather less popular. Tom Tomato). Mr Kipling cakes. Shell petrol. Cap’n Crunch cereal. perhaps surprisingly. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. no less). seahorses. the Aflac duck. turtles and lizards. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). the logo. Mr Clean. South Africa of springboks. unsurprisingly. Californian Raisins. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. the Monster. Jaguar cars. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. Le Coq Sportif. This is very much in keeping
. fecundity. eagles and horses are popular in America. The first of these involves national animals. France is fond of roosters. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. India of elephants and so forth. Birds. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s.g. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). as are personified fruits. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. Dove deodorant. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. whales. storks bring children. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. needless to say. cuckoos cause trouble.3 A secular trend is evident too. whereby the brand name. thanks to Steven Spielberg. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. the Calvin Klein polo pony. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. for instance. owls impart wisdom. the Dodge ram. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. albeit butterflies.com and Bell Canada beavers. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. The match model is characterised by congruence. caterpillars. laptop computers and Transformers-type creatures have come to the fore and no doubt all sorts of blue-skinned avatars are waiting in the wings.chickens. In some cases. Insects. ladybirds. Aliens. dolphins. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies.
Since 1994. Willie. the 9Lives spokescat. the HMV dog. the Budweiser Clydesdales. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. Leo. believe me). but the mystify strategy is something else again. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. begat Chipper. 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. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. Congenital critter creep is one thing. the Lacoste crocodile. rarely go off the rails and. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. indeed. similarly. At one stage. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. the Hush Puppies basset hound. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. all things considered. Beauregard. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. the Airwick ostrich. Geoffrey. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. Morris. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. Chester. Nipper. the Trix rabbit. Larabee. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. basically speak on behalf of the brand. fire-breathing dog with six legs. way back when. the Kool cigarettes penguin. the Cheetos cheetah. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. though. except that they work for free. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. Multiply. don’t complain. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). In effect. the penguin. Maturity is marked by multiplication. whose name you’ll never ever guess. by contrast. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. the MGM lion. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). each with their own colourful personality.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. animal mascots are not immortal. glowering. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. the Toys R Us giraffe. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. The fourth stage. the belief that if one critter is good. is perhaps the
. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. That said. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. black.
wise owls. 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. religion. In this regard. Pace Goya. Their characters. etc.most fascinating of all. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. animals remain fair game. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. The brand character. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). social class. stupid cows. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. their “natures”.7 Whatever else is
. the same is not true of animals. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). more cherubic. 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. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. sexual orientation. their personalities. 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. nevertheless. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. which increases opportunities to view. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). 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. In general terms. cheeky monkeys. gets younger. the sleep of reason produces mascots. continue to be caricatured and vilified. sly foxes. 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. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. like death. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. uncertainty and rapid technological change. gender. promiscuous rabbits etc.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. more childlike. True. more cuddly. if anything.6 Be that as it may. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. so too today’s terrorist outrages.0 – cf. age. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. Le Penguin notwithstanding. etc.
Anthropomorphically. more submissive. p. The sum effect is arrested development. “The great American bubble machine”. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. 8. Natural History. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. Stephen J. many of which can fly (dragons. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. Cambridge.said. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. New York. 2000). includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). is brilliantly described in Arthur O. 89) explains. 2001). BTW. Totemism. Gould. The more things change in western capitalism. London. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. however. 89). My database. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. 1936).This worldview. C’est la vie. If you want to suffer further. 2004). phoenixes. griffins. [original 1962]. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. xi. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. 1964. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. 88 (1). Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. Tony the Tiger’s only son. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. 2009). “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. trans. 4. 1995). Stewart Guthrie. accessed 4 May 2010. pp. far less hardy. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified.com.
. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). at any rate. check out Stephen Brown. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. 2. incidentally. p. p. 129. in years to come.8
Notes and References 1. 30-36. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. London.rollingstone. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. p. Lovejoy. Oxford. Cambridge. 3. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. 2009. www. Note. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. London. 5. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. 7. about our great economic cataclysm. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. Claude Lévi-Strauss. Matt Taibbi. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. 1979. the more things stay the same. 13 July. 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. Pegasus and so on).