The Penguin’s Progress

:
A Mashup for Managers

by

Stephen Brown

In Loving Memory

Isobel Brown (1919-2008)

CONTENTS
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead

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

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

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

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

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

the character may well go global in due course. Journal of Consumer Research. pp. 15. 343-373. 1992). 13. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. p. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. See. BTW. 2010. Naturally. 2006). 10. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. are second to none. 8. Lions. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. 1993). the key statement is John S. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. soporific and so forth. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. John Berger. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. 2005). Why Look at Animals (Penguin. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. It’s full of animal errors. Oxford. 17 January. Cambridge. 2008) and Tony Thorne. London. 12. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. London. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. They fail to appreciate that conflict. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. “If you want to survive. New York. stories are on the up and up. 9. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. 1998. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. 7. “Scientists are people too. London. it’s not completely inaccurate either. Needless to say. 2010. According to Morgan Trimble. The Sunday Times. 5. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. 19. 23 May. They are bland at best and boring at worst. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. The Observer. Richard Conniff. Incidentally. London. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. 24 (3). don’t be ugly…be cute”. p. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. 2009). The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. 215). 11. 2005). The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. London. 14. 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. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. . 2007). Images of Organization. nevertheless. by all accounts. Gareth Morgan. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. Kennedy. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. for example. The companies acts. 6. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. updated edition (Sage. “Smarter than you think”. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. insipid. 14.4. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. This book. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin.

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”

“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”

Chapter Five

Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VII

Brands Can Only Get Better

Chapter Nineteen

Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.

The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the

Bella wasn’t so sure. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. rapids. . which is the animal equivalent of a high five. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. 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. similar to slow food. shook him down. But not right away. shallows. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. of continuing with the same basic proposition. which was a first for Mustapha. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. since they are exposed to them more frequently. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. that he never laid a fish finger on the cabin boys in his care and all that stuff about exposing his cod balls was boloney. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. chewed the fat about brand longevity. But she said nothing. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. top-hatted and smirking. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. A strange strain of fish. and whisked him off to meet his doom. slow travel. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. The captain said they were Crocs. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. Understandably. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. Izod and analogous alligators. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. The lynx laughed it off. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. They stopped. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. brand. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys.form of sandbanks. CEOs need to chill a little. after asking what was biting. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. He added. He knew what P&G were capable of. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. apropos of nothing. The river got narrower and narrower. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. He’d been there. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. He was a Mars Inc. whirlpools. the jungle less and less dense. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. exchanged greetings and. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. If anything. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. of conviction. eddies. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. slow parenting and so on. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and the perfect work will do both. 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. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. prospects. plans and profitability. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. for example. without fail. Way back in the early days of the company.” Needless to say. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. you know.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. that at some point in the proceedings. I have no fucking idea. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. Although no topic was taboo. who would win?” And. Who will win.com. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions.” “Like a secret message. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. 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. the ebullient founder of Amazon. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. on the web. because we need to be the . He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings.” “Or a plan. Daisey. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. “That’s a good question.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. So much so. 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. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

p. the more things stay the same. C’est la vie. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. [original 1962]. New York. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. Note. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. If you want to suffer further. far less hardy. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. griffins. Stephen J. Pegasus and so on). however. at any rate. 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. trans. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. 5. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. incidentally. 2001). 88 (1). 2009. p. London. p. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. www.rollingstone. The more things change in western capitalism. accessed 4 May 2010. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. 1995). check out Stephen Brown. 2004). and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. London. . 89). Rolling Stone (1082-1083).said. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. Tony the Tiger’s only son.This worldview. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. Cambridge. 2009). BTW. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. Anthropomorphically. 2. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. 13 July. pp. phoenixes. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. about our great economic cataclysm. My database. 1979. p. 7. in years to come. 1936). 30-36. 2000). Natural History. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. 4. Claude Lévi-Strauss. Stewart Guthrie. Oxford. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. 8. “The great American bubble machine”. xi. 3.8 Notes and References 1. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. many of which can fly (dragons. Lovejoy. 129. more submissive. Totemism. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). Matt Taibbi. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. London.com. Cambridge. Gould. 1964. 89) explains. The sum effect is arrested development.

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