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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the

opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the Burger King. Johnny English. the Mytag repair man. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22.1 Well. Morris the Cat. such as Hello Kitty. the HMV dog. or the Noid. my dataset comprised 1. the Vodaphone pug. the Bon Ami . the Michelin Man. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). many more. 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. Captain Birdseye. We know a lot about ourselves. Hartley. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. the Gold Blend couple. this is as it should be because “We are people. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. Most of these mentions. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles.2 It follows. the Borden cow. the Bisto family. whether it be A Bathing Ape. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). Cheeka. Johnnie Walker’s Strider.R. Fido Dido.151 individual entries. Joe Isuzu. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. Of this total. J. are made in passing. the Pets. perhaps inevitably. the Hofmeister beer bear. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. Colonel Saunders. moreover. the Morton Salt Girl.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Uncle Ben. Veritably Clean. Nipper. Julius Pringles. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. the Vlasic stork. a shades-wearing. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Ronald McDonald. Aunt Jemima. After trawling through websites.com sock puppet. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. all told. not entirely. Howard Brown. Crazy Eddy. Rather than provide potted biographies of the mascots mentioned herein – since they are easily tracked down online – let me use this appendix to make a couple of broader points. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. the Coppertone Girl. Pillsbury Doughboy. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Bertie Bassett. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Anthropomorphically speaking. assorted Scottish Widows and many. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. Elsie.

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

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

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

check out Stephen Brown. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. New York. 2009). Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. Cambridge. 89). incidentally. 1979. 13 July. p. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. Pegasus and so on). 88 (1). includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). [original 1962]. 129. London. the more things stay the same. 89) explains. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. 1936). Note. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. Anthropomorphically. p. Tony the Tiger’s only son. 5. It thus seems that fifty years after the renowned anthropologist Claude LéviStrauss famously contended that “animals are good to think with” it’s evident that animals are equally good to brand with. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. 8.8 Notes and References 1. 2000). which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. Totemism. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. 2001). If you want to suffer further. pp. C’est la vie. My database. trans. Lovejoy. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. however. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. many of which can fly (dragons. BTW. Natural History. 2.said. p. more submissive. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). “The great American bubble machine”. Gould. accessed 4 May 2010. Stewart Guthrie. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. at any rate. phoenixes. Oxford. 4.This worldview. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The more things change in western capitalism. Matt Taibbi. about our great economic cataclysm. 1964. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. Claude Lévi-Strauss. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. griffins. London. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. Cambridge. in years to come. 2004). London. 1995). The sum effect is arrested development. 2009. xi. far less hardy. www.com. . that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Stephen J. 30-36. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. 3. p. 7.rollingstone.