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A Mashup for Managers
In Loving Memory
Isobel Brown (1919-2008)
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead
Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples.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. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. It is ancient and ineradicable. the constellations in the heavens. however. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. like Tony the Tiger. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. They are the embodiment of the brand. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval.and duck-tails). presumably.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. 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”. I don’t know. Apuleius. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. The totem poles of native Americans. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. 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”. There’s one thing I do know for certain. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. Anthropomorphism. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. We’re anthropomanes. Chicago Bears. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. Sydney Swans). mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. as are our haircuts (pony-. pig. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. is a universal trait. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. 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. dance steps . through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. How he got in my pyjamas.1 Twenty years hence. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. one and all. Andersen and Adams.
cartoon strips (Peanuts. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. hive minds. cheese moving mice. fat cats. animal spirits. Angry Birds). dancing elephants.5 What’s more. Getting it right means survival. apes in the corner office. Far Side. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. consciousness. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. orbiting hairballs. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. black swans. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. associated with childhood in particular. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. its ubiquity is not in doubt. getting ducks in a row. breathing. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. cash cows. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. 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. It helps us identify potential predators. graphic novels (Maus. for example). Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. For others. welfare.9 Business organisations. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. computer games (EyePet. big hairy audacious goals. find that this is much easier said than done. because it is in our best interest to do so. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. hidden hands. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. are routinely regarded as organisms.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. bunny hop. self- . which considers our earth to be a living. it is a developmental trait.(foxtrot. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. with brains. Fables. dead dogs. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. furthermore. limbs and the like. If anything. lungs. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. Needless to say. SimAnimal. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. 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.6 Even natural scientists. emotions. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. hearts.3 For some. storytelling squirrels and so forth. men on the moon. long tails. Fred Basset). Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. Ninja Turtles). tarantella).
came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. flourish and fight for the right to party. after a fashion. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. 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. insofar as it features a secondary world. It’s a work.regulating entity. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. much to the relief of consumers. much less White Fang. Meanwhile. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. . Winnie-the-Pooh. Or. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. As such. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong.10 Indeed. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. Squirrel Inc. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. However. of edutainment for marketers. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. moreover. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. is “alive inside”. Who Moved My Cheese?. managers and would-be marketing managers. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. The Way of the Rat. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. forage. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. Black Beauty. Guinness. But many of them lack pizzaz. both tearful and terrifying. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent.11 Viewed in this context. Undergraduate students especially. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. 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. Wind in the Willows. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. say. There are lots of books about brands and branding. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. Its ultimate aim. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. is to educate as well as entertain. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. Watership Down. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. much as I hate the neologism.13 This is a book about brand mascots. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. the legendary American adman. flirt.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. Brer Rabbit. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. to be more precise. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by.
for fear of being left behind. shake things up and refresh the brand. the epitome. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. Action-minded by inclination. the exemplification of that niche. have been around for a very long time. they extend the range. new offer. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. in short. all of which are functionally equivalent. Worse.As a storyteller. frankly. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. better yet. in the mass. though. prosumers. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. The best loved brands. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. Hopefully. To Thy Own Brand Be True. if one makes a move (new feature. by and large. then. In a world of identikit products and services. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. The theories. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. however. persuaded. new whatever). the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. not to say a “take-away” or two. Less is Sore. are inherently conservative (raving fans. All the way to Clone City. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. long before customers feel that way. Consumers. Managers feel the need to make changes. becoming the embodiment. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. They have to be convinced. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. The Next Big Thing Thing. of out-and-out obstinacy. Just for you. they . They don’t need more of anything. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. is quintessence. Products and services do not sell themselves. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. The go-to brand. though. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. They increase output. of antipathy. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. it is matched forthwith. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. The fifth P. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. new platform. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. they are prone to the next big thing thing. like the fifth element. hive minds and what have you.14 I’m conscious. however. Persuasion is the key word here. new product.15 The Fifth P is a Q. facts and more facts. cajoled. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. It is also true of principles. The Customer is Always Right Wing. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. especially so).
Richard the Lionheart). free gifts. Thumper. “reification”. Donald Duck). The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Campaign. see Matt Williams. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. Strictly speaking. the brand may benefit in the long term. 2010 Notes and References 1. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. 4 June. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. 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. Dumbo. p. Oh yeah. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. p. “Money”. 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. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. “Crocodile” Dundee. The Observer. as academics like me are inclined to do. there’s one other issue. Zoomorphism is the opposite. as was the dismayed £ sign. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. nostalgia-prone world. Childishness. targeting the child within is no bad thing. for instance). Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. Christine. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. 3.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. However. But don’t take my word for it. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. 2. 2010. likewise.make the products more readily available. 31. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. is not to be sneezed at. 23 May. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. 4. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. Thomas the Tank Engine). Reduced availability increases desire. . For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. 2010.
it’s not completely inaccurate either. New York. 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. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. 14. 12. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. 24 (3). The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. 215). London. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. 2008) and Tony Thorne. Journal of Consumer Research. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. London. for example. Richard Conniff. . p. Naturally. soporific and so forth. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. 17 January. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. 15. John Berger. This book. 1993). Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. London. Oxford. 2007). The Sunday Times. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. 19. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. 13. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. 23 May. London. nevertheless. Gareth Morgan. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. 10. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. BTW. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. Images of Organization. Incidentally. 2005). Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. 8. 6. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. are second to none. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. “If you want to survive. “Scientists are people too. 1992). the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. stories are on the up and up. by all accounts. 2005). On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. London. They fail to appreciate that conflict. 9. the character may well go global in due course. The Observer. See. 2009). Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. The companies acts. 1998. “Smarter than you think”. It’s full of animal errors. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. Lions. According to Morgan Trimble. don’t be ugly…be cute”. 7.4. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. 343-373. 11. They are bland at best and boring at worst. 5. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. pp. 2010. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. Cambridge. p. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. updated edition (Sage. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. the key statement is John S. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. 2010. insipid. 2006). Kennedy. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. Needless to say. 14. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo.
where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. etc. sugar and so on). . though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread.). It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods.16. bottled water. salt. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification.
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. She had more important things on her mind. Paris. gloves. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead.” she said. Silo and Roy. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. berets. “Hmmm. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. bending this way and that.” Paris pouted. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. hot to trot. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. struggling to keep her face straight. She twisted and turned. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. “I’m not sure pink suits you. Bella Adélie shook her head. figure-hugging. Fashion. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium.” The tease worked. Not only were they completely unnecessary. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. The fad started innocently enough. Pounds too. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. a joint venture with Versace. you know. beakaplasty. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. “Seriously. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. for one.” Exasperated. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. one-piece costumes. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. She needn’t have bothered. “Pelican pink is so this season. what do you think? Am I way cool.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. was almost as well known as . The S&R logo. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. “It’s a Silo & Roy.
The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. the wind was light. The sea was calm. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. others contended. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. as she so often did. A sob stuck in her crop. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. But Bella knew better. some said. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. a spoiled rich kid. She adored McDonald’s. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. she twirled. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year.” Paris stuttered. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. iPods to dolphins. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life.” Bella replied lightly. It’s delish. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. “I’m sorry. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. she was a bit roomy at the rear. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . Mmmmm. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. in truth. yet others complained. smiled. Bella. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. “Mmmmm.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. An egomaniac. crunchy crustaceans. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. Or several. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. “With your genes. You should try some of this. and share a McFlurry with the great man.” She said it without thinking. For all her selfabsorption. darling.” Bella mumbled. which was tantamount to tropical. the temperature hovered around freezing. admiring her outfit. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. simpered.Armani’s stylised eagle. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. Bella. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. you should be more careful. Paris. I’m lovin it. the sky was blue. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. whirled. Consequently.” Paris warned. kicked up a heel.
The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. starve now.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. surely you know that. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. I trust. sniggering. “Here.” Bella said.” . “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. if she was related to a leopard seal. much better than black. fast later. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. Paris. Okay. Clearly. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. Gastric band. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s.” “Oh goodie. Paris. preened and paused every so often to fling open her outfit for the fantasy A-listers in the front row and the admiring ranks of imaginary photographers at the end of the runway. her uniqueness. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Penguin porn degrades our species. Darling. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week.asked. in fact. “Come here immediately. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris. Bella. like hedge-hopping rainbows.” Bella commanded. Bella. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. “Don’t be a silly billy. Be honest. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. Casting next week. admittedly. flicking open the Happy Meal container. On the contrary. bar none. Right now. You’re coming with me to the food court. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. Cerise was chichi. black and more black. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. “Okay. I won’t take no for an answer.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. A gift? Tiffany. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. her gene pool. where elephant seal pups frolicked.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. Watch my walk and tell me what you think.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. “Get this down your gullet. Paris wiped her eyes. I’ve got something for you. “No can do. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. Brown was the new black. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. They looked delicious. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy.” Paris exploded with laughter. But Paris declined. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. She did. posing provocatively.” “What. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. Except that pink was now in. “What do you reckon?” she called. They’re making another Madagascar movie. flipper on hip.
“And the drastic gastric band. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. oblivious to the threat. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. if not before. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. “Tell you what. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. maybe?” “Um.” the soon-to-be superstar said. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy.” Paris doth protest too much. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. “Grrrrrrrr. The role’s already in the bag.” Bella knew very well.” “No. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. right?” “Le Tigre. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. you know how it is in showbiz. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. 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. They’ve been performing since incubation. Penguinapping is commonplace. Bella mused. “It won’t take long. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk.” “Well.” Filling up. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. Bella. Grrrrr. tossed her up into the air. I’ll be fine. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. She turned to her companion on shore. Paris hugged her mottled companion. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams.” she said with an apologetic smirk. “Grrr. hoping against hope that . snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. She knew that the part was hers. never mind “this’ll do fine”.” Bella shouted back. “I always carry one. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. as was the polar predator’s wont. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. Her face was a frozen mask. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna. Panic stricken. just in case. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could.” “Grrrr.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. apparently.” “Whatever you say. as anyone would.
Tearful. she fished the outfit out. To die for. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. There was no sign of life.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. A dismembered limb. Bella took a closer look. her designer pride and joy. indeed. Aghast. Bloodstained. Sodden. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. bitten and bloody. . Bella wept. Ripped.
But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. With a heavy heart. bands of blackfoots. she clambered up the ice steps. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. Gentoos. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. stumbled toward the shoreline. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. What else could she do? It was her duty. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . expectant. penguins of every imaginable breed. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. Reported to the penguin police force. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. the views were spectacular. in the lee of the LG glacier. There were knots of kings. hushed. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. nevertheless. Stifling a sob. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. and emerged huffing and puffing. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. Blamed. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. belching. No parent. the agglomeration was completely silent. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. like stones across a millpond. A microphone screeched. where she paused to catch her breath. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. more likely. Oddly. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. bellowing elephant seals. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. perhaps. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. weeping all the while. species and stripe. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. clusters of chinstraps. overcome with grief. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. onto its snow-strewn top. The sun was stronger. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. Distraught. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. In more ways than one. as everyone knows. Picking up speed as they descended.
. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. BrandLand. Hesitantly. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. “Nice outfit. S&R.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. Not now. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . double-dealing. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. Lookin’ good. bloated. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. the sapphire-studded collar. “This. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. lying. 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. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. Until the crowd closed up. Her rate of progress improved immediately. Devils in disguise. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. husky or not.. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. bitch. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. They couldn’t be trusted. the carefully clipped pelt. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. as the star took to the stage. though. “is Dr Dogeatdog. Curiously. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. she had no alternative. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. As the long way round would have taken forever. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. who were no-good. His crest. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. nodding their approval. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. some bristled their feathers. A few snooty royals turned to attack. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. Not never. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. It was magnificent. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. Her presence was not appreciated. blubbery macaroni. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. cheating layabouts. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. Although she was well used to hostility.multitudes.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here.
however. overstretched. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. in other words. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. Out. “ACME. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind.” Screeches of feedback. to be precise. has concluded that a cull is called for. and that’s saying something. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. ACME’s chief executive. ACME. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. ACME.” The uproar was indescribable. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. ACME. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. Penguins are out of fashion. Worse was to come from the canine. Over. the worst in living memory. Out. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. ACME. the legendary Mr Kipling. “Six weeks ago. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. Out. Penguins have jumped the shark. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. Charlie the Tuna. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. Out. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. Penguins have saturated the market. they’d be okay. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . Shouts of “ACME. Worse. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. The kings kept their own council. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. The penguin brand is overexposed. on account of the drastic economic recession. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. blether. Out. bluster. Emperors exploded in anger. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot.” Dogeatdog reported. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. ACME. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. oversold. Whatever happened. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. The bubble of blarney. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. Out. A 10% cull.
” he began. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. “the last few years have been good for us. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. by far the most populous penguin species. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin.term. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. We’ve cornered the mascot market.” Le Penguin croaked. as the order’s most overexposed species. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. “Brothers and sisters. Indeed. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. He reported that the emperors. The multitude fell silent once more. “Fellow penguins. There were no dissenting voices. his voice a low-throated rumble. Why would there be? . We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. No penguin pain. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. his raddled face set in serious mien.” 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. No.” The big screen went blank. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. We’ve got to face facts. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. no penguin gain. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. Good day to you all. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. a blessing in disguise. chinstraps and gentoos. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. They know what needs to be done. He announced that his own macaronis. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. It was a done deal.” Ever the showman. We’ve got to get back to basics. The decision is yours. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. if the least high profile. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. he paused for effect. No. However. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate.
humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. it came pretty close. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. There was only one thing for it. The rookery nook. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. 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. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. Digging in her heels made no difference. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. it was a death trap. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. Bella was falling behind. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. Her parents were dead meat. their marvellously mottled appearance. pitch-black ice tunnel. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. 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. they’d taken pride in their otherness.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. anything. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. The superslick surface. Bella jumped feet first into the void. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. Bella stared into the chasm. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. On the contrary. Petrified. was almost entirely frictionless. She had to warn them. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. She had to do something. breathing heavily. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. their difference. she closed . Paris’s parents would have to wait. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. There was no time to waste. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. with murder in mind. however. rockhoppers.
Bella cried out. Fffft. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. They’d been taken away and taken out. carooming. backing it into a corner. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. They’d been rounded up already.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. The wetsuit. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. Some nests were still warm. Ffffft. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. Luckily. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. she clambered over the rocky detritus. Flippers fully extended. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. A large leopard seal loomed before her. but a great divide in the path. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. It stopped. most likely. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. Anguished. Excitedly. She didn’t know which way to turn. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. A dirty rotten rat. A petrel. A crab. panting with exhaustion.” . you slimy son of a sheathbill. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. Ffffffft. Our Flipper. hunched behind a boulder. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. possibly. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. yet with a mounting sense of dread. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. licking his lips. close to her parents’ nest. it wasn’t a wall. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. “I’ve got you now. Then stopped. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. was ripped to shreds. Fffft. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. Then started again. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. It was completely devoid of life. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. disturbed the eerie silence. Ffft. she advanced toward the creature. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. Something was moving. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. probably. skimming. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. twitching. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. She screeched and tried to stop. And failed. deserted. in the community’s communal crèche. though. Ffft. She opened her eyes fractionally. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”.
000 Twitter followers and 3. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. You are feeling sleepy. “Modesty forbids. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. The Russian steppes are thataway. Sleepy. erect-eared.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. the proud possessor of 600. “I haven’t finished with you yet. a radio talk-show compère.” he sighed. Towering head and shoulders above her. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. Not in a good way. Taken aback.” he drawled. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere.” the penguin snarled.000 Facebook friends.” “Oh. elbow up – then casually blew a cloud of noxious smoke in the face of his would-be assailant. We know a .” Bella was baffled. trying her best to appear menacing. “You. sharp-faced. dragging deeply. 32. you understand. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. Very. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. With a so-what show of indifference. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. at your service. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. I am the face of a price comparison website. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year.” he drawled.” Bella was at a loss. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. “How dare you address me like that. I don’t know who you are.6 million hits on my homepage. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. “Aleksandr Orlov. Orlov sucked on his cigarette.Astonishingly. I think you have. Very. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas.” “Simples?” “Simples. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. all things considered. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. London’s over there somewhere. “Sleepy. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. Sleepy. but I am big in Britain and Russia and. of course. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. you disgusting wetback. the slender-torsoed.” Orlov said. bless his cotton candy socks. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. My catchphrase is Simples. my dear. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery.
I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. he dropped off the grid.” Bella started to step aside. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. perhaps we could pool our resources. Hit singles. she blocked his path.” He made to go. she was first in line for the chop.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. if you must know. avian classes. 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. He knows the score. ripped and ragged. Nor did Orlov. “I don’t think so.” Bella shook her head. Flippers on hips. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME.thing or two about hypnotism. not to say subliminal advertising. . the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. He looked around. We meerkats are social animals. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. where she’d left it. The S&R wetsuit lay. Not so Simples now.” “Mmmmm.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. It’s a life-long learning. Flat Eric’s been there. a sock puppet. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. “Sorry. 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.” With a glottal gabble. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. “Simples. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. However. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave.” he said. As the only mottled penguin in residence. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. right beside the isabelline refuge. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. They looked resolute. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. They’re here. as if taking in the cave for the first time. Enormous name recognition. “Too late. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other.” He winked. meerkat. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. “Well.” But Bella beat him to it. “Flat Eric. I’m looking for someone. um. “since you put it like that. “Suit yourself. much less dun-coloured rodents.” “I see. But I prefer not to mix with the. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. “He was a sort of soft toy. Advertising awards. Two species are better than one.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
scampering. Every second was precious. clawing like crazy. adélies are much more petite than emperors. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. although the fit was tight. I can’t believe it’s not butter.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. suspecting a trap. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau.and snow-filled shaft. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. you flat-footed fool.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. mercifully. searching for the ice. Bella snuggled in behind him and.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. . don’t you know. She struggled to keep up. blocking out the bright sunlight.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. stab. Indomitable. ever-upward. Their bulk. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. She could hear them discussing their strategy. The old enmities are behind us. “Meerkats. “Well. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. They paused at the mouth of the cave. “Let’s go. but nothing like it used to be. There’s still a bit of discrimination. he was off. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery. who stopped again. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. scurrying. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. they said. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. uncompromising. There was no way those monsters could follow. And bickering amongst themselves. Orlov seized the moment.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. Bella shook her head. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. determined. There was no escape. tear. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. We didn’t think we needed it any more. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. as he excavated ever-faster. There’s nothing we can’t bore through.
digging. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. blocking her path. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. digging. “The rookery’s thataway.” Bella snorted. my dear. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . Enjoy the twilight while you can.” Chastened for the moment. Orlov said nothing. frankly. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. if you’ve had enough for one day. “dandies discard.” Agitated. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. even more gallantly. though. not a skua. Gallantly. darting back. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. “Impossible. claymation models. I’ll accompany you for a little while. He fell into step beside Bella. Pity. Stand-ins. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. They had a lot of reshoots too. allegedly. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. dashing forward. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. The place was deserted. You have a lot in common. dropping down on all fours. They’re big girl’s blouses.” Bella set off with the sun at her back.” With a heavy sigh. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. Their feet sank in with a hiss. Simples. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. he spluttered. digging. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. However. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. not a shearwater in sight. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. They tramped steadily across the snowfield.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. The thin crust gave way from time to time. They never let anyone forget it. It must be adhered to rigorously. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. Or earshot. The reshoots were ridiculous. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. Orlov scampered alongside. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. but ACME is not on my agenda. Orlov just kept digging. My routine is sacrosanct. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. “Oh.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. “When danger calls. you know. body doubles. You’ll have a lot to talk about. The snow squeaked as they walked. through the worst of the winter.” he observed. “Sundown?” she scoffed. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. “Forgive me. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. not a penguin. The man’s a slave driver. sometime in the middle of April. They march for months on end. They’re famous for it. then it’s midnight through September. apparently.
across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. that’s what you are. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. fast asleep. He rose up on his hind legs. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind.” “The simples minded. they ploughed on. “I told you I could do it. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. Orlov stopped suddenly.” Bella said. “Explain yourself. But you didn’t believe me. so far from home.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. pointing into the distance. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. On me.” She made to move on. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. I think you’re my kind of penguin. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. I’m out of here. still with snow under the nails. Bravely. at your service. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes.” Louis meowed throatily.” he purred. preventing further progress. Astounded. the meerkat refused to budge. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. sleepy.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. A wild cat. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. bigger than a mangy moggy. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. perhaps. Do you believe me now. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. “Yes. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. You’re a minx. A black dot was coming towards them. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. “I like a bird with spirit. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. Let’s wake him. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce.” Bella apologised. Poleaxed. Smirking. that is. “It was because it didn’t work. Let me know how you get on. It was feline. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. “Louis the Lynx. It works on everyone. Bounding towards them at top speed. You mocked the master. Minxes and lynxes . She’d seen enough narcissism for one day.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. “The bear is completely under my power. “What’s that?” he said. Smaller than a snow leopard. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout.” “My paws were cold. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal.” Orlov inveigled. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. Chins tucked in. snoring loudly. apart from a slight headache.
were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”
“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”
Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales
moreover. he was a busted flush. When you put it like that. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. desire. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. We’re built on a bubble of belief. so selling to them is the next natural step. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. Plus. the bigger and nastier the better. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. Even his chortle was charming. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. A sexy smelly shampoo. Lurchers. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. Orlov lit up. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. Ask yourself. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. Lhasa Apsos and the like. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. putting poor critters down. as Neolithic cave art attests.” “Hmmmm. hope. “don’t knock it. don’t you. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines.” Orlov smiled. . because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. They make movies about mice that speak. I read Wikipedia incessantly.” Orlov boasted. my dear boy. “How come you know so much about marketing. sensing a stay of Axecution. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas.territories.” Louis mused. wildlife programmes in particular. crows that crack jokes.” Bella quipped. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals.” Louis chuckled. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. with a grin. not that there’s much else to admire.” “Hey. But she wasn’t quick enough. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. You test the things on animals.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. I can see the campaign now. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. lions that sing show tunes. moreover. Anything after. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. Louis laughed out loud. “Correct. Anything before B he was unbeatable. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. anyhow?” “Simples. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. “Anthropomorphism. adélies. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. red. since Axe carries connotations of execution. a brand in a highly competitive market. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. extermination. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. advertising. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. Louis asked. They are anthropomorphomaniacs.
He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Has been for years and years. though. He’s not best pleased. 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. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. Louis. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. “Actually. understandably. With an almighty roar. Mmmmm. Or a meow meow overdose. His eyesight is not what it was. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. I couldn’t shake him off. Bella wondered. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse.What do they put into their toiletries. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. Their shelter. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. You tried to run off. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. well. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about. Feathers? . Eyes drooping. like a karaoke Krakatoa. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. “Yes. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. He thinks I’m the fox. she wondered. Bella felt sleepy. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. I wanted to rouse it. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. the moraine started moving.” “You suggested no such thing. Bella and Louis said nothing. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. Penguins pong pretty bad. the Romanovs. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks.” The group descended into grumpy silence. scratching occasionally. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. she looked around.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive.” he said. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. “it was all a mistake. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident.” Orlov observed dryly. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. She tried to resist. perhaps. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. cruel culling. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. What wild accusations. anteaters and analogous A-team animals.” Orlov said testily.” Louis was at a loss. the hillock erupted. A joint venture. Or Freudian psychosis. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. The earth quaked.
with a smirk.” the creature conceded.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. none of which are tested on ze animals. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. Having watched the negotiations in silence. “Zat is so. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. if it’s not out of your way. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories. Unscented. Not only were they getting somewhere. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. s’il vous plait. face creams. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention.” Louis said. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. while hopping from foot to foot. as well as Aesop. “Zis is not BrandLand. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. “I am Roc.” Bella added. It wasn’t every day that an economy line of masculine personal care products encountered an exclusive range of fancy French feminine beauty aids and accessories. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. “How far can you take us. it isn’t. Encouraged.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings.” “Zat is impossible. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. Everyone knows zat. “Zat I can.” the Roc crowed. Bella chanced her arm. Lord of ze skies. “Three wishes. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. Hans Christian. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics.” Gallic to its wingtips. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. “We have three wishes.” “No. isn’t it?” he said. rather. Ally of Aladdin. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. flapped them vigorously. Flipper. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie. no less.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. “Well. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. Zis .” “Zat I am.” Orlov insisted.” Bristling. “SoHo. Companion to Marco Polo. He knew his Ali Baba too and.” “So. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. as for Andersen. uh. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other. they might even end up where they wanted to be. with poststructuralist precision. “But this is BrandLand.
” .” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. “is Adarctica. Zis.” he sniffed. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. a contiguous territory.” “D’Accord.is a mere dominion. “We’ll make our own way from there. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding.” Orlov commanded. as yet untouched by civilisation.
BrandLand. and advertisers don’t either. Within a few minutes. heading north. sat calmly. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. lay spread-eagled beneath them. he knew there was nothing to fear. it flapped once or twice. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. don’t travel claw class. . Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. Many hours later.” “According to ancient myth and legend. into the eye of the snowstorm. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. rising thermals. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. Beckoning. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. then invited the threesome to mount. They dismounted shakily. captivating. eventually.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. The meerkat glared at him. Isabellines can’t be choosers. Clinging on for grim life. Wings fully extended. the trio was taken by the scenic route. “If it offers us a choice of seating. Back-beating furiously.” “Yeah. With a low rumble of discontent. Having read up on aeronautics. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. aerobatics. as her mother often observed. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. then took off vertically. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. by contrast. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. And then some. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. lake-dappled lowland. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. snow-capped mountain ranges. the bird-borne party was above the storm. in all its magnificence. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. A driving tail wind. Far from being dropped from a very great height. inviting.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. as its tagline proclaimed. The storm-tossed. And we’re not talking Dumbos.” Louis said. never mind jumbo jets. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. with a disbelieving look. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. Orlov. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. taking in the scene.
” “Can’t you count. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. we might learn much along the way. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. USA. . arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops.” the Roc said disdainfully. surely. took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. PDQ. “Am I free to go. and make Mr Kipling see sense. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. We’ve only had one wish. In the far distance. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. “Steer clear of ze jungle. 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.” it said. My contract is complete. penguin. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone.” With that. We might learn much from big biomass brands. pronto. The threesome looked up expectantly. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked.An acknowledged expert in domain names. the local authority. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan.” the big bird boomed. Crackle. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. “A word of advice. One wish per passenger. the Lacoste crocodile. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. Be veri. We’ve two more to play with. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. then took to the air.” “This isn’t a theme park. “And we’re not on vacation. reportedly. Pop and similar elfish creatures. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. wondering which territory to try first.” Conciliatory though it was.” Louis enthused.” Bella snapped. Our task is to get to Madhattan. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest.” Orlov. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. find ACME ASAP. veri careful. directly ahead. the stomping ground of Snap. disconcertingly. The Roc refused to elaborate. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. swirling. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak.
And that’s her smiling flock. birch-fringed.” “Cardboard cut-outs. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. she was too astounded to rest. She badly needed a breather. though. Bella stumbled on several occasions. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. Especially for a penguin. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. “A Mars a day”. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. the My Little Pony palominos. That’s what Paris once told me. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. .” the meerkat said. you twat. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. Dangerous though it was. A blissful. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. cedar. But when she crested the rise. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. Bella left them to it. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. The air was noticeably warmer here. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. “I may be mistaken. tussock-strewn.” A row erupted. a frisky Ferrari broke free. stream-silvered dell lay below her. steaming waterfalls. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. making a vast grassy corral. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. like an Alpine Shangri-la. Perplexed. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. Each accused the other of ignorance.” Bella muttered.“The nerve of it. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. Orlov. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Every so often. joined the others on their high country hike. flakiest chocolate”. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. arrogance and absence of brand sense. plaidshirted. Jingles rather. interspersed with red-berried rowans. “Hands that do dishes”. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. Louis scampered after her. after being frozen in flight. “Only the crumbliest. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. larch and juniper. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. Bella recognised some of the tunes. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations.
” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. I presume. Whatever he was selling. Welcome to God’s own country. He had heard of ACME. let alone love.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. Agog. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. wide west. Bella was buying. but paid city slickers no heed. The bad folks don’t call me at all. “Mr Marlboro. Generously. as were her awe-struck associates. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. It bespoke Big Country. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. Big Flavour. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. of course. Big Satisfaction. sonorous and compelling. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. Duke’s voice was deep. tilted back his hat and grinned. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. no siree. the bracing air. an urban cess pit was their priority. son. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime.She signalled for the others to join her. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. with an anxious expression. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters.” . Much as the trio loved the mountains. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. they’re not axe-murderers. Apart from an occasional wheeze. where men are men. “Don’t worry. The legend introduced his pardner. with only cows and cowpokes for company. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. “At your service. The good folks around here call me Duke. was impressed. Bella opted for a formal greeting. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. Big Emphysema. Big Brand Equity. Even Orlov.” The older cowboy. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. the wide. The advertising icon was bemused. Big Sky. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. not when there’s a lariat to hand. where the village people would point them in the right direction. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. There was no need to explain. ma’am. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. “Village people?” Louis echoed.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. Modest to a fault. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique.” Orlov stage whispered. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. Marlboro Country was invented and. A camp camp containing red Indians. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. As things stood. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. “Never had. he’d join in the chorus. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. might be more than even he could handle. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. “Yes. 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. Louis might have agreed with the rodent.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. on account of the filter tip. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. “Though if anyone asks. The rest is history. As the party progressed down dale. traffic cops. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. And as for “In the Navy”. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. round rivulet and through thicket. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. But the tat was an accident. plus several infuriating false starts. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. If they started up “Macho Man”. It was originally targeted at female smokers. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. After a fraught brainstorming session. of all things. as did the manicured fields.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. the cowboy archetype was adopted. the Bon Ami chicken. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation.” In ordinary circumstances. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. never will. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . of all things.
overhanging eves. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. pruning shears. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing.” Bella sighed. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit.” Louis observed. Ar-har. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. Smelt of chewing tobacco. the Bull Durham bull. arhar. wished them well in their quest for ACME. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement.the Anchor butter cows. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. watering cans. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge.. 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. it said. Hamlet half a mile. Coors Country and their high. “What a guy. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. mounting up. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. the Bisto gravy family. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. where Aflac ducks. “Wonder what’s eating them. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. as the company advanced into Hamlet. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. garden path. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. A pretty parish church. edge trimmers. He glared at his feline acquaintance. redundantly. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. to Louis’s annoyance.” Bella said wryly. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. However. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. wide and handsome cognates. which looked the worse for wear. abandoning lawnmowers. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. Then. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. saloon bars. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché.. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. the everenergetic Red Bull. it added. garden hoses. He had a peri-peri in every port. “Hmmph. with the Kid by his side. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. a time-worn market cross. Swan matches and .
I’d recognise you anywhere. wearing blue overalls. stepped forward. mine host.” the curmudgeon grunted. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. Or gassy lager. a peppery little man with a self-important air.” The tea folk tittered. “You must be Gaffer. slippers! – stood between them and the door. The leader. a firkin of gassy French lager. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. Clarence. brass-banded pumps. they followed him into the homely hostelry. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. a hogshead of mead. “And you must be Maurice. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. “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.” Bashful as ever. Or best bitter.” “Aye. old chap. one with a sharp carving knife. Still nothing. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. Archie. “are Sydney. granite inglenook.” she went on. lad. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. “And you. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. Nothing. however. By the time Bella and Louis caught up.” Bella said. quacked and chirruped incontinently. A line of local yokels. “We’ve b-b-been…” . their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. The usual array of barroom grotesques. The place was deserted. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. lass. simple Sydney smiled shyly. polished horse brasses. that were a long time ago. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. “You’re Gordon. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. They waited for a few minutes. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. “We prefer to work with Clubs. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. my good fellow. All were empty.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. as sheepish grins started to appear.” she concluded triumphantly. was unsettlingly absent.” she continued. Penguins and Tetley go way back. Undaunted. the consummate cuppa-maker. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. You look fantastic. or whatever it is they do down there. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. if there’s naught else on tap. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight.
” he growled. brand animals like us. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. P. “Tetley. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. brandishing their blunt instruments. He met the T-birds once. Sydney shuffled his feet. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing.” Bella gulped audibly. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. We liked the T-birds.” . Psychosis is not uncommon. reminding them who’s boss. Tips is a Unilever brand. Bushells. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace.G. Tips people. Lyons.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders. lass.” “Tannin poisoning.” Gaffer spat. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’.” Louis groaned. yes. Because P. “We’ve been on holiday. The tea folk advanced.” “That’s torn it. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely. Tips.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. “Tbirds were P.G. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. the T-birds. Lever lover? Menacingly. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls. as did Gordon with his andiron.G.G. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. ominously. along with Brooke Bond. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight. “Assam. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence.” Orlov whispered. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. Could put a word in for them. I suspect. Lipton. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right. Assholes. But. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. then glared at his gang. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. A lot.But he was cut off by Gaffer.G. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it.
and arsehole begins with A. Night was falling. “It was brilliant.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. “An old trick.” Louis didn’t mince his words. The glory days of P. deciduous trees. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. insidiously. poplar.” “Yes. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. Far from the madding firs. unobtrusively.” “No. “Look. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P.G. she decided it would do for the night. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea.” Bella smiled modestly. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. Tea’s time is up. like most FMCGs. you can bicker without me. sycamore. a copycat called Tim Tam. They’d have to stop soon. It tasted delicious too. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. beech. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. unawares. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. proper trees like hornbeam.” Orlov snarled.” . Tea brands are identical nowadays.” Bella said. Coffee culture’s king. heavy trees. lime. ferret. I’m amazed they fell for it. Tips. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. After looking around and sniffing the air. A stroke of genius. Defeated. walnut. oak. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. “It was nothing. elm.G.” Bella had said. these were big trees.” Orlov interrupted. They’ve reverted to commodities.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing. no.” Louis finally said. There’s nothing to choose between them. “The reason you didn’t know about it. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. fighting on price. “Now push off the pair of you. you two. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. The air was chilly.
Watching the frolicking creatures.” Orlov added. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. Smiling. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. the Unibank unicorn. A figure was flitting through the trees. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. but it was pleasant all the same. pipits. Not this one. flitting in. the Hartford elk. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. In a most unladylike manner. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. for once. only to disappear when anyone came too close. Crackle and Pop. And another. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. Vauxhall’s. the Nesquik bunny. she was struck by the absence of bird song.” Louis laughed. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. a fire was crackling in the glade and. Before long.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. wearing a skintight yellow dress. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. the Schnuffel rabbit. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. the Kirin dragon. exhausted. the Glenfiddich stag.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. Scania’s and Saab’s. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. A singularly sultry rabbit. “Actually. “Look. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. looked over and waved affably. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. Keebler’s elves also showed up.” With a sigh of contentment. lay languidly beneath it. she surmised. They made good progress through the forest. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. she offered a square to Louis. out and around the trees.Chastened. before evaporating into the undergrowth. “there’s Snap. only to find herself drifting off. The next day saw an early start. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead.” “I’m just glad they let us go. most likely. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. On picking herself up for the fifth time. rotten logs. with an irresistible . “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. linnets and the like. Louis was in his element. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. Immediately adjacent to the path. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. the Trix rabbit. her parents. scrutinising the strangers. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. when something caught her eye. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions.” Orlov said with atypical glee. Swiftly followed by another.
A for Argonauts. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. all ponderous. sensing Bella’s unease. An unearthly hush descended.” Bella butted in. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. sotto voce. Quick. and not a little need for nourishment.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside.” Orlov hissed. Get out of my way.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. then a steady stream. Daddy’s coming baby. which was still rustling. Quick. Rrrrrrrrrrr. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. Louis. they roused Louis who woke . They hunched together biting their tongues. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. However. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. She’s Circe.” she said. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. However. “they’re solitary creatures too. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration.” The lynx laughed in his face. “Something smells good around here. tongue hanging out. Well. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. Dark Temptation. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. sniffed the air. “No. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. Bella bided her time. Bella. And then some. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. Bella followed suit. then a third. Fancy a bite.” “Yes.” she smouldered. Rrrrrrrr. I’m doing him a favour. all hulking. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. the oldest trick in the book. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. trying not to breathe. as if to reset her audio receptors. It’s a trick. “Quick.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. no. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating.” In normal circumstances. This doesn’t look good. “Arctophily. Together. Bravely. then a fourth. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. since you ask. she’s cursed. polecat. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. all growling. mainly nocturnal. clicked his foreclaws.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. Must hide. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. I can see that. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. my. “Let me guess. A big brown bear lumbered past. peered around myopically. famously omnivorous creatures. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. then shuffled on. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. “Don’t fall for it. “My. A second bear followed. “Aeaea. actually. It paused for a second. they don’t actually hibernate. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously.
the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. peeping out a knothole. Gulliver. Hamm’s beer bear. “The bear. Biffo the bear. George.with a blissful smile on his face. brown bears. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. Only Gulliver. Charmin paper towels bear. It was worse than bear baiting. He died with his Wellington boots on. Paddington was a sitting duck. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs.” his said. Labatt’s blue bear. Big bears. was filling up with bears. black bears. “Let’s get out of here. The dell. fierce bears. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. the easyJet bear. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. a snivelling wimp at heart. Bearzookas. Even Pudsey. They didn’t get very far. BearPG rifles. friendly bears. as were Pudsey bear. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. “We should be able to get away then. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. inevitably. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. the bears burst into song. In fact. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy.” The meerkat spoke too soon. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. cans included. before a head shot finished him off. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. the Hofmeister bear. Larynges lubricated. “They’ll be asleep before long. begged on his knees for mercy. the iconic US Forest Service bear. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. wasn’t spared by the assassins. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. Appallingly. The massacre was relentless. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed.” Orlov murmured. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. . Pipes were smoked. “has left the building. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. firing indiscriminately. “Told you so. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. Paddington bear. Smokey. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. At least they seemed civilised about it. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. Carried back to the ice floe. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. Yogi bear. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. Bundaberg rum bear. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies.” hers replied. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. Cresta lemonade bear. the easyJet bear. SuperTed was also in attendance. whose charitable work is second to none. Boo Boo bear. The fat bastard. the biggest jambearee. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower.” Hiding in the wounded tree.” Pooh simpered. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. small bears. SuperTed. meanwhile.
A second troop of baby-faced. 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. Supported by Charmin and Cresta.showed any sense of self-preservation. There was no sign of Winnie. . he sealed the fate of his comrades. In so doing. The dirty deed was done.
” Louis groaned. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. you see. frozen in its death throes. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features.” Bella said.” Orlov ordered. Heavy shadows fell across the path. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. jolted out of his rambling account.” “Okay. But drew a blank. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. Hallmark’s main rival. A Lynx card range made sense. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. Suddenly. stealthily. “I know who did this. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy.” Louis answered dully. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. the baby-faced ones. failing to focus on the salient facts. “Greeting cards.” Orlov said calmly. Great mark-ups. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. It doesn’t bear thinking about. such was the bloodletting. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. That’s the frightening thing. Cautiously. On returning to the path several hours later. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. . Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. the trio forged ahead.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. We talked joint ventures with them all. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front.” They knew she was right. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. listening intently for any indication of military activity. tears streaming down his ashen face. Bloodstains. They pushed on slowly. Night was falling. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. paw-prints. They kept going. Me-to-You they’re called. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. Let’s bury the bodies and move on.” Louis wept.” “Explain. the better. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. sensible as ever. man” before breathing his last. A chill was in the air. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. “Greeting cards. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. most with decades of distinguished service. “There’s nothing we can do here. Working together. steadily. you say?” “Yes. if only to work out what they were up against. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. Led by Tatty Teddy. Frantically. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. Very profitable business.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards.
They’re breakfast cereal characters. sat a glowering gothic castle. The first brand character dates from 1877. Eyepet. with witching hour approaching. “Think about it. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. “I know what they are.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. bath salts and what have you. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. Bella was exhausted before long. no. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. above the sodden forest floor. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. which stopped them in their tracks.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. “Potentially big market for personal care products. 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. teeth chattering. “I think I know what this place is. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. Most have been axed ruthlessly. But shelter found them. deodorant. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. Orlov laughed. familiars. never mind feline chat-up lines. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. Until the rain arrived. Country Story. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. Never the best of hikers. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. Thousands of critters have been created since.” he said. They’re avatars. It’s simples. Surely some of them are still with us.” Louis said. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. Second Life players. slipping and sliding and slithering. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life.” Louis said. often in the prime of life. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella.” .” Bella was incredulous. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. They searched for shelter. Pet Society. according to recent news reports. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. cold and cutting.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. I don’t like the look of them.” Louis said. We have nothing to worry about. The path soon turned into a slough. At night. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. Invizimals. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province.” “Looks pretty scary to me. They struggled along. they opted for the latter. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. “That’s no phantasm. They’re nothing to be afraid of. they made reasonable progress. They’re called Furries.” Orlov answered with equanimity. if anything – just that fetches. High on a crag. full and ominous.
shields. Mummy”. mead and beeswax markets. “I’m waiting. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. Mr Lynx. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. always on the creepy side of welcoming. was positively cadaverous. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. “Mummy. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. the portcullis rose. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. Bagheera. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. But not the once and future Honey Monster. His cavernous smile. nor were Piglet. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. spread out on a table before him. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. as the drawbridge fell. lances. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled.” the creature rasped. After licking his lips with relish. Be careful what you say. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants.” it shrieked. much less amused. though. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. wondering what he was waiting for. The travellers looked at each other. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. . on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. Bella was too tired to care. 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. He looked enormously pleased with himself. lined with oil paintings. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. Bizarrely. She had second thoughts. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy.” Louis ventured.Orlov was not convinced. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. head tilted back. “Mummy. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. The latter included Dumbo. Tigger. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. It’s Mummy. however. swords and stuffed animal heads. “Tell them about the honey bunny. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. By then it was too late to retreat. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. We didn’t see anything.
As every brand manager knows. So it proved on this occasion. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. Just as music calms the savage breast.” Bella was not amused. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. so too slogans calm the savage brand. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. Apparently. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. “Or he’ll overhear us. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. we’re history. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. after breakfast. “Tell them about the honey. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan.” “Lucky for us. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide.” Orlov hissed. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. Doom was unaccountably delayed.” Orlov said. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments.” “We’re doomed. He doesn’t know what we know. “There’s no honey in Penguins.” She looked at Orlov coldly.” she murmured. Otherwise. as the reality of their situation hit home. The next morning. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. like himself. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. pausing to point out the bee laboratory.Shaken to the core. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys.” Bella gloomed. “It’s simples. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest. Let’s keep it that way. it was the least he could do. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated.” Louis chipped in. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. “All together now. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. he showed the threesome around his stately home. mummy!” they shouted in unison. As if by magic. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. we’ll never get to ACME. hence the bee laboratories. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. psychological or otherwise. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies.” “Keep your voices down. Walls have ears.
” Orlov observed. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting. “I thought honey was a natural laxative. .” the Honey Monster said.Character Mediation Enterprise. “Not that kind of pooh. without smiling. innocently.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
What there was. fences. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. glorious. circling steeply upwards. bounding over fallen logs. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. saplings. The growling stopped. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. stood before them wagging its tail. air-conditioned cabin. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. the brand band exchanged wary glances. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. railings. There was no sign of Cerberus. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. long. leaping. tree stumps. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. A gigantic silver Greyhound. They should buy us some time.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. strapped them in securely and. dodging. offering little by way of illumination. giving way to the rich arable farmland . golden. Peanuts. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. was pretty impressive. It was replaced by frantic barking. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. A perfect day was in prospect. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. where it charged between the trees.” Legend the unicorn announced. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. rivulets. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. though. “Don’t be afraid. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. Bella. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. Luckily.” Orlov reassured his companions. Increasingly alarmed. gratifying. while straining on its leash. sleek and in perfect physical condition. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. All of a sudden. raising its paws and barking excitedly.
but solid ground threw the adélie completely. the new Eagles. “I thought they’d broken up. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. Bat for Lashes. Market leader in Britain he may have been. Orlov snorted. Wolfmother.” Bella gasped. Eventually. Scorpions. Glinting on the horizon. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. Pet Shop Boys. 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. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Literally. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. amongst many others. An open air charity concert.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County.” “Maybe we should check it out. Doves. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. “Must be a homing greyhound. Whitesnake. Noah and the Whale. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. Fleet Foxes.” Squelched. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. Followed by Flat Eric. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. before dashing off again in the direction it came. Grizzly Bear. the Natural History Museum. if not quite the bees’ knees. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). rubbing salt into the wound. their mode of conveyance was. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States.” Bella noted.” Orlov added. Seven minutes later. bunny hop. As ever. “Business first. The line up included Gorillaz. Louis sulked. Wild Beasts. “ACME is top of our agenda. Mastodon. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. better yet. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. pleasure later. Danger Mouse. Snoop Dogg. Before long. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. Then we can foxtrot. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. infuriated by his insensitivity. pointing at the billboard. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. Central Park Zoo. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. . FAO Schwarz. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly.” Louis said casually. Sheryl Crow. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. Seal. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot.
Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. was nowhere to be seen. as if a performance was about to begin. as they advanced towards Timex Square. Forty-second Street was equally empty. panhandlers.” . But survivors all the same. they go. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. in as cutting a way as he could manage. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. Aleksandr. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. shoving. 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. dirty. Surely everyone knows that. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. you never got as far as B. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. security guards. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. squalid. hookers. A chill wind whistled in from the east. though.” he said. Squeeze This. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. while stuffing their faces with fast food. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. That’s what I think.” Bella said. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. “But surely. If we go. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. Marketing gives it meaning. Mutant maybe. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. just like you said. many of which strobed intermittently. yelling at one another. buskers. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. perhaps. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. animal brands especially. “I think I know what’s happening here. druggies. caught in the inter-building eddies. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing.” “Why are there no humans. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. “The real world is breaking through. I’m sorry. indicated that the place was operational. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. The human world is a horrible place. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. yakking. devoid of hope and authenticity. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. Horribly disfigured.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. Oh.
we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza.” Bella groaned. the Dulux sheepdog. Led by Cheeka. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure.” Orlov exclaimed. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail.” Louis said.” “Gotcha. . diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. unwelcoming place. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. Monkey from Sky TV. off. Then another. “Bloody Hellman’s. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron.” Orlov took off. “Holy Doughboy. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. “Well. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. it stated. it added. it went on. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. an irresistible urge to spend. spend. “Well. off. lynx and meerkat in their midst. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. spend. 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. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. then get the Dell out of here.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. 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. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. Luckily. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. Another followed. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off. Timex Square was an empty. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. horse-mounted traffic cops. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques.” Louis gasped.com critter. stunned by the update. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice.
while they were in mortal danger. Bella looked at Louis. “Let me handle this. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. Patrolling down 42nd Street. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. Louis turned to Bella.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. right beside the big BlackBerry patch.” he said curtly. But Louis cut him off. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. no doubt. breathing heavily. “Wait for us. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. look left. ferret. Smirking.” Louis snapped. We don’t have much time. Having stared the meerkat out. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. Louis looked down at him. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. “Calm down. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse.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. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. They stood snout to snout. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. Orlov backed down. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. “What’s the address? Quick. look right. look round again manner. Growling. ready for fisticuffs. “No signal. start. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. drop down. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. Scampering ahead in his stop. stand up. “For your information. followed by “Louis. The meerkat glared at them both. Quick. Even in Madhattan. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. The fashion week tents were still standing. flapping idly in the breeze.” Infuriated. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. 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. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. I thought you’d been here before” strop. It was a brand free zone. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight.” Impatient as always. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture.” Orlov was fit to be tied.” . getting more infuriated by the second. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. eyes locked. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison.
Once production goes. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. The Young and Rubicund building. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx.” “Read that in Wikipedia. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. “Let him go. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. “World Wide Webster. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. in a downtown direction. He’d clicked through from Google Street View. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. 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. Something or someone was watching them. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine.” “That was all accountancy bullshit.” Louis sighed. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. design. Racoon.” The connection took forever. The stress of the quest. down-sizing. innovation follows. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. “It’s number 285. will you. officiating bodies like ACME. Nothing. publicity. “designed to justify cost cutting. He was a Panther man himself. believe me. Camel. “It doesn’t say. The building was just a couple of blocks away. Adidas. Louis held her back. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. scanning the copy with mounting dismay.” He switched off his iPaw. Panther.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. As included. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . The brand stayed in the west – Nike. It was her imagination.” The meerkat was off like a shot. originality disappears. not to say incredulity. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov.” Bella had no time for legends. feeling edgier by the second. Rrrrrrrrr. Critters he called them. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. “I don’t believe it. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. She was sure of it. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. creativity evaporates. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her. the brains behind the Smash Martians. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. Bella made to follow. Monkey. “Just get Google. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. He’s barking up the wrong office block.” Bella moaned. research. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. Accountancy’s the bane of branding.” “What?” Bella retorted. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. “Look. did you?” Bella shouted.
Exactly. isabellines especially. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and.” Far from being crestfallen. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. jingles. They especially hate cute critters.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. reason-why. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. “Corleone the copywriter. Chuckling. The curt note on the door. only with account managers and art directors. hot. He had a theory. A conspiracy theory. They passed a Starbucks. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. It too was devoid of life. a bit like The Sopranos.” “Oh. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. advertising characters. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. bothered. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. they strolled down to 285. Fearing another tantrum. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. though that may have been the art directors’ department. There was no brand war. Yes. no winners or losers. The big city was distorting his thinking. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby.” Louis said laconically. Aleksandr. The vacated Y&R floors. Nodding enthusiastically.” Louis yawned. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. “We know. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. stiff and straining in the breeze. arm in arm. The whole place was completely empty. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. mouth agape. With a heave. A couple of minutes later. The locked ACME offices. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. “Yes. Although they look laid back. a strop and sulk situation. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. Bella refused to take the bet.us the journey. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. subtlety. Hard sellers hate whimsy. as did his equally dumbfounded . The wreckage all around. their Old Glories unfurled. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. let alone embarrassed. the Russian emerged from the elevator. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. Startled. all disconcertingly empty. Orlov missed the sarcasm. brand mascots.” Louis let her vent. he looked around. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. extremely agitated.
Eyes glassy and unseeing. Frantic. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. He pushed again.” Bella urged. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. “Lucky I checked out the building.companions. They picked themselves up. thump. Caught betwixt and between.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. . still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. It suddenly shattered. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. Glancing round as he ran.” he added.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. then another. Arms outstretched. It was locked. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. Its catatonic associates followed suit. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Then a fourth. and pushed on the side door. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. jumping to his feet. Nothing. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. however. A crack appeared in the pane. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. Thump. Louis lost the head. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. Bella and Louis did likewise. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. They spilled into the street. “Quick. slid at high speed across the polished lobby – flippers outstretched to maintain her balance – and secured the snib just as one of the slackjawed creatures was pushing through. thump.” Louis yelled. Then a third.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. Almost. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. The alarm alerted the undead. thump. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. then another. “lock the revolving door. the latter sprinting on all fours. round. thump. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. thump. There was no time to lose. Thump. out. the three of them backed up several paces. the former sliding on the marble. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. thump. Without pausing to dust themselves down. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. the zombie was momentarily confused. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. An earsplitting alarm went off. Nada. then charged at the barrier together. like a fire tender on emergency call. The door burst open.
They’re softies.But the quarry was too quick for them.” He galloped up Park Avenue. “We’re trapped. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. They’re wusses. in the direction of Brand Central Station.” Orlov said to himself. No surrender. “I think there’s a food court in that place. “No. Bella. This way. They’re milkshakes. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. With no realistic alternative. “Let’s stand and fight. with an unrepeatable oath. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. This way. where they paused to catch their collective breath. 40th . They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. no.” Bella said.
” he commiserated.” Wiping her eyes.” Unabashed. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls. But my sprinting’s not so good. “I’m starving after all that exercise. “Okay guys. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line. “But downtown’s not a good move.” Bella panted. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. looking anxiously behind them. Rrrrrrrr. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business.” The meerkat cracked up. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains. But none of them are McDonald’s.” she added. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald.000 passengers per day. which ordinarily copes with 150.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. right Louis?” “Right. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. gasping for breath. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. 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. Too worked up to worry. the lynx tried to sympathise. grinning. As Bella. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. Giggling. albeit with difficulty. He won’t be there anyway.” Orlov empathised.” “Yes.” he conceded.” Suppressing a smile. “I think we’ve lost them. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days. you know. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota. “Yes. “That’s where Flat Eric lives.” Bella deadpanned. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo.” Louis laughed. by way of explanation. winking at the other half of his double act.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. Sniggering to start. “How can you be so sure?” .” Orlov said. “I can swim for hours. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza. “Don’t bet on it. No bother. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. face contorted in agony. those McTofus are really something. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. “A good brand is hard to find. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. “Different muscle groups. “Lynxes excepted.” Orlov said.” Louis continued. holding her side. “Never meet your heroes. “Stitch.
just as the doors were closing. decisions. Inside a smelting plant. Aleksandr. as he pressed his face against the window. “All of which are moot. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds.” The meerkat hesitated. It’s well uptown. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. she shook her still-slumbering companions. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. Inside a greenhouse. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. We should be safe there. was made for them. It’s relocated to India. ACME. Boiling sun. The place felt like an oven.” . Settled in their seats. He looked around in that ever-wary way.” Understandably perhaps. decisions. If not quite melting. “Looks like Coney Island.” he said. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. Then Orlov followed suit. the moment of light relief forgotten. peeping outside. “If that’s where we decide to go. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. We need to make our way to JWT Airport. “ACME’s our priority. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. ACME. Hot sun.” Louis sighed. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. And tasted like it too. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. the one that does international flights. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. though. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. as it happened. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. Things’ll be clearer then. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. “Coming with me. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon.” the lynx said. 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. swivelling his head this way and that. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. trying to make the peace. exhaustion soon caught up with them. Have you?” The decision.” Louis croaked. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. because there’s no public transportation. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. as they tried to get their bearings.” “Decisions. Bella awoke with a start.” Bella said.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. “I’m heading for SoHo. On Mercury. Bella’s obsession with ACME. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. “We must have missed our stop.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. Louis?” “It’s getting late. “We’ve had a very trying day. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis.” She looked from one drained friend to the other.
Many were of the dung beetle ilk. Far Away. Bella stood in the doorway. The barflies hung on his every word. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. Botanic Gardens too. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. Unselfconsciously. in short. an imposter. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. held court behind the bar. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. top-hatted. flat-roofed and ogee arched. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. a fraud. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Much as he loved dry heat. Mercifully. like eco- . “There’s an aquarium on Coney. The heat was fearsome. boys. Gasping for a drink.” Too parched to say anything. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. ghost trains and roller coasters. it said. Gathering their wits. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. beckoned from the other. piled upon dune. and how Mr Peanut. far away. dune piled upon dune. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. twisting and turning. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. Hydration was the brand band’s priority.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies.” Orlov rasped.” Bella struggled to speak. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. Mine host. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. not only looked inviting. Bella wished she was far. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. The door hissed open. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. was a poseur. Onlookers.” Orlov remarked. be gone. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. Whatever their phylum. Self-respect be damned. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. Grill and Waterhole.“Not a problem. Bertie Bassett. Except that they weren’t flies. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. Welcome to Mirage. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. as best they could. when brand icons were dapper men about town. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. The Birds Custard bluebird. It was hotter outside than in. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. the monocled. most of which were counterfeit. We’ll be safe among the carousels. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles.
pig nuts and pygmy nuts. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. followed by “Wild Thing”. A hen party. Meerkat mambo. Adam and the Ants. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. “Hound Dog”. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Louis was collared by the meerkat. No matter. No sign of Owl City. Dropped. consisting of Wild Turkey. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. The Animals. We’ve got to get out of here. History. A poultry matter.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. The lynx hadn’t. let alone an LAX.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. We’re in Brandablanca. Meanwhile. never mind “Fireflies”. Grey Goose. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. the lusty lummox. a sure-fire floor filler. Orlov persisted. Panicking. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. spokespenguins held to ransom. the proper name for the peanut family. spokescreatures sold into bondage. Brusquely. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. for eucalyptus. The Monkees. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. Louis didn’t .” Undeterred. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. Howlin Wolf. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. All axed by their advertising agencies. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. he didn’t give a 4X. Lapsed. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. Famous Grouse. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. nor did he want to know right now. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. was in seventh heaven. Smirking.” “Right. just as the stork’s set was finishing. Unconcerned. Bella and Louis supped up. “This is the last brand saloon.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. “Chicken feed. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar.” “It’s mambo. Louis. Horse Feathers.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. Orlov didn’t join in. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. much to his annoyance. The Beatles. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. the audience roared. Monkey Business and more.
then. Bella was outside. I need something to calm me down. trying to hide his relief. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. He made his way to the restrooms. However.” “Excellent. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there. No sign of her there.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. It wasn’t so funny the second time.” “I don’t.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. either. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. the CEO is. They thought we were brand bounty hunters.” “Don’t tell me. apparently.” . He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books.” the abstemious meerkat said. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away.” she said. There was no sign of Bella. trying to get to Hamlet. then.want to know. “Okay. Releasing his grip. though never rising above ill-at-ease. Orlov gave up on the lynx.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. “I didn’t know you smoked. doc?” Bella forced a smile. standing in the shade. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. He slipped into the backstage area. “What’s up.” “Let’s get going. having a cigarette. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. They’re in transit. a Happy Meal. deep in thought.” “Exactly. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. He’s on his death bed. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries.” Bella nodded.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.
Part V Just Deserts .
Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. despite her desire to depart. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. sweetmeats. shouting over the music. As a feline of sorts. Louis was on the dancefloor. He didn’t want to know. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. laying out his wares as he talked. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. The lynx didn’t care. The meerkat was much less impressed. Louis wasn’t in the same league. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. Ali Burberry. Orlov made for the door. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. “He’ll be there when we get back. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. Ali Balenciaga. They explained the situation to him. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. So they left him to it. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. Pelican and Penguin. Awimoway. Ali Bally. Ali Bottega Veneta. They shoved him aside. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. carpets. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. He still didn’t want to know. they returned to the bar. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss.” Orlov answered. was also quite striking. Mustapha cut his prices even more. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. more emphatically than before. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. They explained the situation to him again. Ali Boden. awimoway. fashion designer to the stars. Reluctantly. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. spices.” Bella promised. he refused to let go. Talking all the while. a stylised scarab in a circle. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. He introduced himself as Mustapha. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. Bella was impressed. His logo. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. Orlov insisted that they leave right now.” Bella asked anxiously. “I’ll be back. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. Ali Brioni. Unconcerned. He Dead Decision made. awimoway. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . He paused to get his bearings. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. A mere man. carvings.” Bella wasn’t reassured. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. Irate. “Do you think he’ll be all right.
head aloft. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. dragging deeply. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. they’re a delight. blowing smoke rings. plus provisions for their journey. they’re not. Breath like a brazier. past thorn-bush. This way was the wrong way. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. “This way. stood between them and the same sand sea. Puma helicopters. “sorry about that. grumbling and griping all the while. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. up dune.” He plunged back into the casbah and. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. Unwisely. “So much for kat-nav. They were worrying animal omens. Orlov accepted. Only a palm-fringed oasis.” he decided. brands go. Still no sign of a subway. Joe called a halt. Joe was undeniably cool. Scorpion armoured vehicles. as a peacemaker. He looked supercool too – haughty. down dune. nostrils flared. very bad idea. good fun. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. There was no sign of the subway station. But business was business. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. The shit of the desert set off. indifferent to everyone around him. 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. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. Bella waved back. Even in the searing heat of the desert. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. they’re hot. Instead. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. after much pushing and shoving. Orlov offered him a Lark. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. he explained with a bronchial cough. It was Joe Camel himself. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. hoping to bond with the brute. . Bella decided. Eventually. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. a disgrace. eyelids narrowed. “Whoops. She told the beetle of their intentions. looking down on all he surveyed. He offered one to Orlov. Must be the other way. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. Careless squawk costs lives. Way too hot to argue.” Bella said beneath her breath. good-for-nothing. A dung beetle barred their way. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze.merchants. Mr Midden said that was a very. through tamarisk thickets. detached. The old lungs weren’t what they were. Orlov didn’t. very. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. Harrier jets. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. Brands come. populated by belching braying camels. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. emerged on the other side. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary.” Orlov apologised. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. his dubious long-term commercial prospects.
“Looks innocent enough. She could taste him. Aleksandr. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. It was a refuge. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. Bella. if you want. This is as far as I go. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. after all. style’s forever.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. “…brand characters talk. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. Amazed. causing a mini landslide. undecided. Momentarily inattentive. earnestly. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. Rumours. Joe shrugged.” she shouted over her shoulder. You can go back if you want to. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. The Maytag repair man. to put it mildly. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. she wept for her dead mummy. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. I’ve heard things. Aleksandr. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked.” Orlov murmured.” “Ciao. Don’t pander. Whatever. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. Supporting each other. Five minutes later. which rolled back down the ravine. Don’t lose hope. Fashion changes. “Take care of Louis for me. Bella nodded appreciatively. Stay true to yourself. a benison. tennis courts. Customers are fickle. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block.” “That’s true. who once bestrode BrandLand. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. a tropical island in a sea of sand. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters.” He indicated with his hoof.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. smiling. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. bad as in good.” Bella replied brusquely. I’m an icon. . a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth.bad influence. Sobbing uncontrollably. You know how it is. She waddled up the wadi. I’m going to see it through.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. having decided what to do. “I can carry you the rest of the way.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. It was all too much. speaking slowly. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. “It’s just over that rise. “I’ve come this far. Sorry. dead best friend. Bella hobbled on. Mr Kipling was near now. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. “Your funeral. dead daddy. they clambered up the dusty gulch. or something similar. “What rumours?” The camel explained. having finally found gainful employment. his sang-froid abandoned.
Howard Brown. Nipper responded eagerly. Aunt Jemima. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. sitting in a circle of silence. the coffee shops. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. Betty herself had seen better days. assorted Scottish Widows. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains.“Welcome to paradise.” Orlov replied. “Woof. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. taking in the gymnasium. Frito Bandito. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. Beattie and Buzby. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. Nicole and Papa. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. They peeked into the communal sitting room. regretfully. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. Orlov tried to get through to it. explaining the rationale for their operation. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy.” Betty said. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. However. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. Frankie and Louie. woof. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. the convenience stores and the community centre.” . “What’s he saying?” Bella said. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. look. the arts and crafts studios. But she was friendly enough. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale.” Orlov cried. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. “Look. the Tango man. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. Woof. smiling benignly. the forgotten British Telecom titans. Bow-wow. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. Grrrr. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. who’d seen better days. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. Yap. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. woof. “I think you’ll be impressed. Bow-wow. as orange as ever. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. plump cushions.R.” Without further ado. Ruff. increasing market share. The mute mutt kept mum. as they were ushered into her office. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. Hartley. rising from her sofa. woof. Joe Isuzu. the golf course. Clippit. It was filled with immortal brand icons. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. “Would you like to look around?” she said. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. On a whim. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. their raping. thick carpets. the Coppertone girl. Crazy Eddie. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life.
He’s not here.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. Crocker’s a…c. They were there for the duration. Never was.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. Their accommodation was waiting for them. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere. Right now. Kipling’s a come-on. They’d walked into a trap. Thinking quickly. ..cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Smiling benevolently. Get out.
“don’t move”. he remembered several more moments of madness. followed by “Chirpy. He was in a storeroom of some kind. However. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. the mortification or the migraine. Lynxes were lithe. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. feeling queasy. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. 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”. . He was lying on a small camp bed. Red Robin”. Cheep”. Cheep.” The pain was excruciating. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. though he wasn’t as young as he was.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. With a sudden shudder of horror. It was the least the bar owner could do. Dawn would be up and about before long. though they only had to ask. Then things got a bit hazy. “Oooooohhhhh. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. “lie still”. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. Chirpy. as are bladders full to bursting. Louis sat up with a start. Better not. given the free floorshow Louis provided. but there was a limit. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. frankly. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. youza. the lynx tried to get his bearings. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. Can’t be too careful. Head splitting. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. “Noooooooooo. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice.” The agony was unrelenting.” The torture wouldn’t stop. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. He looked around. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. youza. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. mercilessly. Groaning. well. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. He flopped back down again. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. which tightened inexorably. Louis had never had a hangover like it.
Louis looked up. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. “I’m talking to you. There was no sign of a cell phone. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. the shakes. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. fiddling with an iPaw. A call to prayer was imminent. Sobriety took hold. briskly. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. before disappearing through a swinging access door. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. His red-suited. Ooohhh yeaaah. sugary. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires.” There was movement. albeit not on account of the nausea. Suddenly. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. which flapped to and fro in his wake.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . hoping to attract someone’s attention. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. He sniffed. “Avoid the Noid. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. shoved it open with difficulty. “Christ. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. Anxiety mounting. eyes fixed on the smart phone. Mr Bassett. And a figure sitting silently at the end. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. peered through the iron bars. head thumping. waited for the palpitations to pass. “I’m talking to you. Apart from the sacks of snacks. His iPaw was missing. liquorice-like. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. Presumably. He squeezed his face against the bars and.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. He unlocked the door. If not Bertie himself. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. He reached for his iPaw. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. you son of a bitch. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. It was sweet. rabbiteared guard remained silent. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. He paused. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. Louis needed all the help he could get. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. kicking the door and shaking the bars. holding it in. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. then tried again. Only the minarets showed signs of life. grabbing hold with both hands. dying for a drink. “I’ve been expecting you. Louis angled his face on the bars. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. Louis played it cool. with a view to ringing the bar.” he shouted. He shouted for assistance. Livid. Louis’s iPaw. trying to place the aroma. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. He banged on the door.” he called out.
Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril.” . Well. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. buy-or-die issues.” he said.” Louis countered. not even “My name is Bassett. “Maybe. Have you forgotten your training. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. rising energetically from his camp bed. Bassett or no Bassett. And today’s the day when your number’s up.” “I’m not with you. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. continuing to play it cool. some parts of them come back.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. hangover overcome by willpower alone. Louis refused to be drawn. He had to get moving right away. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. “They come from that.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel.” Bassett smiled. Bertie. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. Mr Lynx. round up the usual suspects.” he said. “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. “Your days are numbered. he realised that something wasn’t right.” he said. Instead. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. He kept his cool instead.” “I see. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. We make dramas out of crises. “But why.” “That’s what we want them to believe. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. in response to the ridiculous death threat. Here’s lookin’ at you. and suchlike. the liquorice magnate said nothing. an escape route for persecuted brands. They never come back.” There was no time to lose. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. Nonchalant yet nasty. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. some of them come back or. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. nodding toward the barrels once more.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. Mr Lynx. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. Unilever boy?” He stood up. kid. Bertie Bassett”. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap. It might already be too late. should I say. “That’s a bit melodramatic.
He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. Although he was still alive. he sensed that Bassett was serious. He soon would. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. However. . Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. He should have known better than to tempt fate. Anything to make the memory go away. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint.Ordinarily. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather.
since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. She was very tempted. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . Every brand icon. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. No hassle. No hustle. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. something strange was going on. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. no matter how venerable. never mind a sickening stench. There was no unscalable wall. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. As a consequence. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. much less the physiology. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. No soft soap. with watchtowers and guards. was a crock of marketplace gold. Mr Soybean. 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.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. But. No hard sell. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. as Nipper made clear. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. Bella was kicking herself. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. That investment kept on growing and growing and. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. neither electrified nor chain link. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. The food. like Mr Kipling. Bella could see the attraction of the place. Crocker’s camp. The recreational facilities were wonderful. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. clearly. The forbidden fruit trick. Bella well knew. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. part of the brand trafficking operation. were a bit like piggy banks. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. Bella could understand why any brand icon. The accommodation was superb. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. no matter how outmoded. its equity was still there. as per ACME’s edict. Brands. Tom Tomato. There was no perimeter fence.
all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. there’s a plume of smoke over there. Even Bella could smell it. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. behind a dense stand of leylandii. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. Doubtless Tiger. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. “Look. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. Orlov was doubled over.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. Not wanting to attract undue attention. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. She declined. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. Bella told him so. a penguinoramus. Orlov looked up. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. The stench was stronger now.the perimeter. then took in the nine-hole golf course. “Burning acrylic. The aroma. no less. was somewhere between niffy and noisome. She was a penguin ignoramus. It worked.” she said. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. “Acrylic. only with incense that’s gone off. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. patting him on the back. There was no escape. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. He offered her one. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell.” She let him splutter. retching in a revolting manner. Undeterred. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. Still. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. “I still can’t smell anything. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. Hundreds of sports team mascots. That’s where it’s coming from. “Orlov insisted. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. footloose and fancy free. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. He spluttered. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. for one – but this was ridiculous. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. minging and malodorous. their . It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. only smarter. Orlov thought for a second.” Orlov gasped. He didn’t look up to the challenge. struggling to his feet. He coughed.” he said.” he added. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. “It’s a bit like a civet. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. Bella was beyond belief. It was worse than she thought. “Maybe it was something you ate. Some chance. “Definitely acrylic.” Bella said. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside. just to see the look on his face. low-rise glass building.
quotas.” Raging. Gruesome as the big screen was.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot.” Orlov said. Norwich’s Captain Canary. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. the purple dinosaur. Desperate times require desperate measures. He Gives a Monkey’s. It was about to launch into . Sunderland’s fabled black cats.” At a loss. Bella. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. nothing less than the furry solution. 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. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. As a Russian. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. Aberdeen’s Angus. And won the election by a landslide. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. a brand abattoir. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. The guard was no ordinary guard. which fell away when full. Stamford the Lion. It was Pegasus. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. they’re cuddly toys. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. From its perch above the production line. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen.” Bella whispered. Barney. as had Go-Go Hamsters.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. targets similar work schedule metrics. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. the questers considered their options. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. As a democrat. Samson and Delilah. In the annals of advertising slogans. There was only one problem. The guard. let alone A Bug’s Life. Appalled. pampered. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. was extinct. Portsmouth’s Frogmore.” “Yes. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. It was apocaplush. Peppa the Pig was no more. “They certainly kept that quiet. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. sadly. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. Beanie Babies had been and gone. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz.
Poseidon. Whatever. We’ve still got a wish in hand. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. Orlov cut the creature off. It’s the way of the world. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. I’m not proud. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. “Is that so?” “Yes. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. remember. Once one sponsor departs. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. Call her.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously.” Bella acknowledged.an “how dare you”. Just ask Tiger. I dropped Bellerophon in it. I’m the offspring of Medusa. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. Orlov. A god’s gotta graft. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry.” . 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. in case you’d forgotten. as you can see. I’m not choosy. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. that its father. Bella seized her chance. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. BTW. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. She says you’re a sell out. “I’m calling security” spiel. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. She says you’re dead horsemeat. there’s only two of us. the rest soon follow. Or checked me out on NagsReunited.” Pegasus whinnied. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. “The Roc sends her regards. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. Pegasus looked unimpressed.” “Your wish is my command. she does. Bella. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. However.” “Yes. If so.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. Orlov. and don’t look so surprised. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. “However. She’s full of it you know. “you shouldn’t be here”. Oh.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
a chesty wheeze from the street outside. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. he picked himself up.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning.” Louis snarled. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. “Let me guess. And squeezed. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. I’m hoping it will . P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. turning defence into attack. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). mean and muscular. Mr Clean. At one stage. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. by fair means or foul. Bella sent them. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. “I’m Julius Pringles. Shaven-headed. preparing to call for assistance. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. Bleary-eyed. In Cin City. You may also have heard that we get what we want. A camel was outside. You may have heard of us. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. allegedly. P&G shakedown. He could hear the door opening. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. Get ready to run for it. They had a rope. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. a celebrity camel. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. he glanced up at the Proctoids. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. he was distracted by a cough. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. no one could hear brands scream. “This is my esteemed colleague. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. The cry caught in his throat. Intrigued. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. the chatterbox beetle explained. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice.” he said. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. Naturally. The other was lean. They were going to pull the bars out.
Veritably. Instinctively. Ping. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. Louis?” Playing for time. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. Is that what you’re saying. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. the one that controls cross-dressing. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. This was no ordinary water. Under normal circumstances. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. a board. Not so surprising. Pantene Pro-V enriched. One-handedly. moreover. Clearly. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. Julius. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. giving his victim a chance to spit it out.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face.be fair.” the lynx sang tunelessly. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. “You know I can’t tell you that.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. “Let’s find out what he knows first. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. It contained a chair. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. “Take it easy. However. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. Surprisingly feminine forename. come to think of it. It was P&G water. both literally and metaphorically. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. With enormous effort. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. Ping.” Clean went crazy. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand .” Pringles ordered. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. With a bestial bellow. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. the pain would have been intolerable. with a butt-ripping jerk. Ping. asswipe. a bucket. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. “And grease in just a minute. Sorry. began dragging him out of the cell. The persecutor paused. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. Without pausing for breath. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. past the Noid who’d nodded off. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. Ping. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. Mr Clean will clean your house. Stoically.
” Muscles bulging.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings.” Admirable though it was. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. “I could do with a shave. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. he asked Louis to reconsider. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books. You don’t owe Unilever anything. Rrrrrrr. pate glistening. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim.” Louis retorted. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. though. Masochistically shaving against the grain. Wouldn’t they? . Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. fraught though they had been. “Tell us what we want to know. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. They’re about to abandon your brand name. The one without the battery.” “Glad to hear it. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. eyes glinting. he tied Louis down. Yes. It’s the best a brand can get. Make it easy on yourself.” “Correct. Howling with fury. He had overlooked one crucially important item. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. “Five precision blades.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. Mostly. The ladies like it that way. which creaked and groaned from want of use. His training kicked in. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. Cursing and swearing. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb.secrets. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. But he had miscalculated. Louis. “Recognise this?” he raged. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. It’s common knowledge. Quickly and efficiently. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. “Nice lather. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. especially for so little reward.” Clean crowed. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. Strangely. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. though. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand. Even at wholesale prices. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch.” he spluttered. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. it was costing him a small fortune.
“You learn something new every day. they tell me.” Louis gasped. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. It was time for a change in tactics. Are you ticklish. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner.” Louis tried to resist.” Pringles said. though. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence.” Pringles said. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours.Clean was getting nowhere fast.” “Cool. By blindly following Gladwell. then turned to go.” . “It doubles as a tickling stick. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. Cats love a tickle. the American management guru. electrostatically. he was a giggling. “Kill him. Clean. He really did. I never knew that. “Try the swiffer. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. “We blindsided you with that one. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit.” Pringles suggested. 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.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. But securely bound and helplessly splayed. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt. “Well. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. gibbering wreck in no time. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache.
He couldn’t help it. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. They had raised the stakes. make the sale. We can talk to ACME. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. cut corners. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. The reason rather was that. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. release the furry football prisoners. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. Qualitywise. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. That little brand of yours has potential. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. Far from leading Louis to his doom. as gods go. move the merchandise. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future.” . Pegasus was basically kind. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. Reluctantly. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. when the chips were down. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. They were part of the plot against the plot. They weren’t part of the plot. keen to do good. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. just perfect for recessionary times. “It’s nothing. bluffed the brusque beast and.” Orlov lied authoritatively.” Unconvinced. Third. which was worrying for a working dromedary. Your prices are competitive. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. Second. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. but wish three was unnecessary. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. keep body and soul together.” “What about you.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. 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. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. He was on a rescue mission. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. “But see your vet anyway. He owed them three wishes. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. ethical. First. He was capitalism in microcosm. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. Not long after liftoff.
the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. though. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. Forthright as ever.” Orlov added. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. As far as most people are concerned. laid into the winged god.com basin. “Okay. And. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. as brand names go. “we’re coming in to land. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone.” There was no persuading him. snaking camel trains. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. I’m in the dingleberry business. one step above slugs and snails. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. Pegasus was getting frisky too. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone.” the flying horse finally announced. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips.” He circled and banked and glided. “specially designed for young children. herds of wild horses. “The objective you seek is upstream. sludgy and sluggish. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. That vessel will take you there. okay. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. Not as beautiful as the jungle. It was forbidding. “Hold tight. half as old as time. “This is as far as I go. There’s the Raid Bugs.“I’m a dung beetle. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. A flurry of feathery flutters later. A vast river. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. dotted with iridescent oases. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. Decrepit. Bella. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. With no realistic alternative. they came to rest beside a small jetty. Although Bella didn’t like heights. Flashes of lightning.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. there might be one or two. But dung beetles are persona non grata. yet beautiful. “What’s this?” Bella asked. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. There’s Caterpillar. 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. with a slight cough of embarrassment. The beetle had a business to run. the threesome took off. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded.” Pegasus snorted. the brand band agreed. but no further. How dare he drop them . Nobody loves us. Pegasus didn’t pause. rolled before them. closely-packed settlements. He’d take them as far as he could.” Louis chipped in. he’d learned something from the Roc. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. soaring up and away. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. Evidently.
aka Iglo. “Welcome to the jungle. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. “I guess we better get going then. KFC. excitement. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. I presume. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner.” Orlov contributed. “Have a nice day. 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. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. They use my proper name in Britain. landlubbers.” “Captain Birdseye. up and away. I don’t particularly mind. but as long as they keep the Captain part. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed.” “Correct. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago.” With that. “Compare the market. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. you see. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures.” he corrected. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. “Betty Crocker. “I’m called Iglo in France.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. Calvin Klein. snapped open its wings. “Captain Iglo. “I intend to. energy: X-Factor. Kit-Kat. A flash in the pan website. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X.” the captain conceded. You don’t belong in BrandLand. 4X beer. You know how it is. Birdseye showed them around.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. A grey-bearded. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. X-tra strong mints. Welcome on board. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. sibilants. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. P-P-P-Penguin.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. There wasn’t much to see: a . Coca-Cola. It’s the k-sound. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. X-series sports cars. Campbell’s Soup. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. open-faced figure. Krispy Kreme. You’re no loss.” Feeling a little left out. aspirates. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Earnestly. apparently. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. “The B-sound’s effective too. X-Box.” a cordial voice chortled.” Louis said nothing. “I can see into the future. modestly. Hence Kodak. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. “Yes. with its connotations of edginess. You’re a joke. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. plosives.” Bella ventured. K-X soda. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face.” They didn’t know how it was. brothers and sister. The old salt nodded sagely.
“Before you ask. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. by others. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. lost in their own thoughts. Sceptical yet intrigued. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. albeit steady as she goes. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. Captain Birdseye cast off. After the requisite toot of the whistle. He’d been there. every lucky winner draw. “There are three tributaries.” He nodded. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. Diet’s the least turbulent.” she said.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going.compact cabin. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. a gimcrack forecastle. every free gift scheme. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. As shipshape as they’d ever be. bought the T-shirt.” “I think it’s exhaustion. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. And was wearing it under his uniform. not to say faintly ludicrous. The jetty was soon behind them and. Progress was slow. Classic and Zero.” “I wasn’t going to ask. Every sales promotion. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. With a barf and a bellow. “The Cokenoco. Diet. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. it’s called by some. “So.” “Right.” Eyes twinkling. Captain. steering a route of least resistance. “I’ll take your word for it. every air miles offer. “The ACME Horde. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. it shouldered its way upstream. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. every loyalty . However. stained with jolly jack tar. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. “Taste it. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene. It’s pretty inhospitable country. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged.” He handed her an old pewter cup.” Birdseye replied. done that. The Trove of Death. it was a plausible brand yarn and. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. as if unconvinced by her reply. I know treasure seekers when I see them. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. We’ve been on a long journey. Just.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. Bella.
win a house. who sells it on. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. In return for a fee.card. scratch card. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings. win a holiday. win a million. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. every money off voucher. complete the sentence. privilege card redeemable premium. According to old wives’ tales. win a car. every collect the tokens. reward or guarantee. And it’s buried in them thar hills.” . that is. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality.
the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch.” the old boatman added. Screeches.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. Her companions didn’t disagree. yammering at top speed. Tips. or had been fairly recently. guys. Louis and Orlov disembarked.” Orlov murmured. catchphrases and suchlike. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. slogans. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. Every so often. screaming the praises of P. “No added sugar.” the lynx intervened. “You can’t miss it. The path was narrow but passable. The noise was deafening. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. Niacin. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. “Intuition.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. “I’ll wait for you. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. to everyone’s relief. the MGM lion. “Instinct?” Bella asked. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees.” she observed.” “It’s okay. However. Burning Bright The jungle closed in. It was hot. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. The horror. “I got it covered. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. “Calcium. as Bella. Tony.” Grinning despite herself. It’s one of our special editions. in a foot race. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. Riboflavin. “Must be a nightmare after a storm. Guinness is good for you. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly.” “I’ll say. as the going got increasingly rutted. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. A trail of hoof. “The horror. The throbbing ceased. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. straplines. Guinness is good for you”.G. It’s big in Brazil. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. 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. if a trifle slippery. It was humid. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route.” it parroted. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. .” Orlov winked at Bella. the Exxon tiger.” he said. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. She didn’t want to know. they forged forcefully ahead. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and.Chapter Eighteen Tony. “It’s that way. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt.
though they weren’t the centre of attention. it didn’t last long. Orlov and Louis looked worried. coupons. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. The crowd held its breath. shelf-talkers. Boom-boom. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. brandishing a burning brand.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. they inched forward and. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. Suddenly. many miles. Boom. With a blood-curdling yell. the high priest of high fashion. The clammy heat was. Unfortunately. then a third. “Let’s just watch and wait. If ACME’s behind this.” Orlov whispered. Boom.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled.listening intently from time to time. decidedly unpleasant. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. The drumming stopped. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. minus the vocal accompaniment. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced.” “Ssssshhhhh. Boom. Bella burst out laughing. Boom. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. This was no ordinary ceremony. if not quite unbearable. posters. a big. Boom. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. A second drummer joined in. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. “Ssssssshhhhhh. big brand in west Africa. however.” Bella hissed. 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. Boom-boom. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. Boom-boom. Fast as the cobra was. was scattered around the periphery. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. Boom. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. “Advent. must have carried for many. as well they might. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival.” Louis was less than impressed. Chuckling. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. Emboldened. as the ceremony proper commenced. dump bins. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. easing a succulent aside. cut cases. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. A great shout of glee rose up .
The first combatant strode in imperiously. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. slowly. removed his monocle and. circled slowly searching for an opening. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. Miss Banana. with fighting as part of the fun. the main event. as the onlookers went ape. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. she encouraged the crowd to join in. 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. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. Booing derisively. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. seductively. The polar bear burst asunder. The response was lukewarm. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. Luckily. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. Ingeniously. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. those whose side-bets were misplaced. She started peeling off her skin. as a groan escaped from the majority. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. Then another brand character contest kicked off. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. because a lot of money had been lost. Bella concluded that Louis was right. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. pretending it had steamed up. This also ended on a disappointing note. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. Peanut paused. Mr Peanut. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. belly dancing. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. Howling with bestial abandon. Which of course it did. Clearly. His followers showered him with confetti- . Without further ado. she started dancing. however. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. the rowdy crowd was getting restless.from one group of onlookers. Transfixed. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. The drums started up again. meanwhile. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. the cruiserweight climax of the card. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. Aghast at the brand butchery. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. In his top hat and monocle.
like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the
opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.
Brands Can Only Get Better
Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.
The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the
of conviction. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. .form of sandbanks. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. He added. A strange strain of fish. similar to slow food. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. He was a Mars Inc. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. But she said nothing. since they are exposed to them more frequently. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. after asking what was biting. chewed the fat about brand longevity. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. eddies. CEOs need to chill a little. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. rapids. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. They stopped. and whisked him off to meet his doom. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. whirlpools. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. which was a first for Mustapha. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. apropos of nothing. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. Bella wasn’t so sure. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. brand. Izod and analogous alligators. He knew what P&G were capable of. He’d been there. exchanged greetings and. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. slow travel. top-hatted and smirking. slow parenting and so on. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. of continuing with the same basic proposition. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. the jungle less and less dense. The river got narrower and narrower. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. 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. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. The captain said they were Crocs. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. Understandably. shallows. shook him down. But not right away. If anything. 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. The lynx laughed it off.
Not far ahead of them. “Who?” “Bibendum.” Orlov quipped. “They were airbrushed. bigger than the Marlboro Man. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads.” Mustapha said. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. Mustapha looked confused. The remains of a massive . where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister.” Orlov gasped. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. At a bend in the river. He looked in pretty good shape. “They’re all at it nowadays. don’t forget. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. like little boys playing truant. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. Barclays Bank. believe me. he’s really let himself go.” “Heaven help us. The Michelin Man. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. That’s definitely not Doughboy. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. asking after his welfare. all right. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. allowing for the onrushing current. held her steady in the centre of the stream.” “No. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. even though he knew he shouldn’t. though not inaccurately. they spotted Strider. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut.” Louis said. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. wondering if they could do anything for him. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. Louis and Orlov fell about. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand.” Bella contradicted. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. There were no signposts to speak of. He throttled back and. right in front of the distended inner tube. no. a superhuman snowman. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. more like. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy.” Bella snapped.As the brand band slid upstream. He doles out the awards.” Louis continued. in an awestruck voice. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. No sweat. run a few errands. “Five star restaurants. the Johnnie Walker whisky character.” Louis sighed. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. The overweight icon said nothing.” “He’s big.” “Photoshop. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. “Jeez. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. either. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs.
Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. but he still said nothing. . “I think it’s a statue. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. Before long. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. White to start. the mist descended. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more. hissing like a deflating cross-ply.” But it wasn’t.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. “It isn’t alive. And it was. Smiling appreciatively. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. The blimp burped instead. ravaged by fine wines. Red thereafter. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb.” Orlov said.
“We’re entering Aliens country. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. Bella stood in the forecastle. But Bella wasn’t listening. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin.” More in hope than expectation. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. She had other things to attend to. She couldn’t think of any more. She could sense it. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. Orlov?” Bella called. “Maybe back in the good old days. he gurned from time to time. such as it was. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. Brand abduction. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. No good will come of this. Another loud hum struck up to port. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. They moved around above them. “But in this day and age. practically. A humming sound started up to starboard. Taking command once more. sometimes to port. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. There was Quisp. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. sometimes arcing across the sky. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. Close encounters. sometimes to starboard. There was Google’s Android software icon. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. ACME was within her grasp. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. like an air raid siren. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . at least. Little green men. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. smell it. pulsing intermittently. Bella bellowed back. Her brain had gone numb. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. The fug literally vibrated at one point. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. touch it. “What do you reckon. There’s nothing to worry about. “Area 51. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. UFOs. right? Since the 1950s.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle.” he shouted. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister.
bracken patches.yammering that prevented rational thought. At the side of the falls. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. The buzzing had stopped.” Louis didn’t disagree. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby.” she called. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. Smirking despite their perilous situation. legs lashing. though. The landing lights had moved on. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. it was definitely the colossus of brands.” she shouted to Louis. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. sucking his thumb. “I know where we are.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. It got louder and louder. Spectral silence reigned. A dull rumble roared ahead.” Bella hissed. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. very close. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. A vast orange sodafall. where the fog buckled and bulged before them.” Orlov did the needful. “Hush. The acme. Ho. Bella’s band were close. even. Without pausing for breath. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. He’s done his duty by us. The captain’ll come round soon enough. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. The lull didn’t last. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. eyeball-melting orange in hue. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. allegedly. Eventually. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. but Bella said no. they mounted purposefully. cut into the living rock. bubbling and fizzing. Before long. let her go. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. broke out his wings and took flight. Said they were legendary. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. someone. feelers flailing. Ho. The epitome. There’s no point persecuting him any further. to the tableland above. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. flight by flight. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. Bella licked the side of her beak. Several flights of stairs later. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. “This is where we get off. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. “Shut him up.” With a natural nautical flair. They’re impassable. bramble . “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. rather. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. as a wall of fizzy water. “This is Fanta Falls. Brand stretch is bad news. presumably to another planet. An intense stare. Louis made to tie the tub up. he gave up. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. “Please.
Louis suggested the Students’ Union. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. Certainly. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. surely. while trying to work out where they were. grikes and runnels ahead. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. Beefeater. more beautiful still were the students. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones.bunches and hardy karst grasses. neo-classical pastiche. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. He was right. The others gathered round to do likewise. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. “It’s Professor Kipling. wall-mounted day planners. Truth. to be precise. a new university. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. Bibendum. “and then see what’s what. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. I suspect. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. nothing less than BrandLand University College. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. of course. They set off for the administrative building. cold. Bella was bewildered. too. As Bella and the boys strolled past.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. However. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. almost art deco.” he said. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. It was a university.” she said.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. As they drew closer to the structure. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. “I just don’t get it. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. According to a poll in Time magazine. cold. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon.
Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. That’s a good thing. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline.” Orlov corrected. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. “This is the place. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties. “He isn’t a professor after all. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. Louis.” he shouted. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor.p. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. Pochacco the dog. Exasperated.” Bella noted. Kipling’s door was at the very end. while holding open the heavy glass door. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition.” a melodious voice responded. “At last. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate.” “Actually. if not exactly in seventh heaven. Pekkle the duck. They piled into the lift and. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats.” .s. Not him too. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. Picke Bicke mouse.” Orlov sighed. Bella shook her head. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. Don’t be bashful. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect.” There was indeed.” Mustapha crowed. They knocked politely.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. “Enter. Understandably. “Enterrrrr. rats.a. a few moments later. 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. He winked by way of replying. “There’s a board by the door that says so. “Excellent. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. then reappeared waving excitedly. It was a nondescript sixties tower block.” “He’s in. “It’s Mr Kipling. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. There’s hope for us yet. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. Top medics are always called Mister. Louis would have volunteered to help.” “Great. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. a. a kind of inverted snobbery.body. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. It’s even more elevated than Professor. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. disappeared into the belly of the beast. mouthing bowwow for good measure.
Bella took a deep breath. raised her flipper. thought about things for a second. Louis nodded. then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. Orlov shrugged. Undeterred. . Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. and pushed.
She was right on the first count. etc. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. But there were long chains of Russian cats. “Before you ask. curled in a ball. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. It was the statues that surprised her. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”.” Mr Kipling said. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. “Second. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. with black necktie and starched collar.” she asked. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. all ceramic. Whereas dogs are everywhere. which stretched from floor to ceiling. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. She didn’t know what to expect. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. Cataletto. dewy eyed. what few portrayals there are. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. smiling obsequiously. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. but not on the second. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. as brand mascots.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. As Bella gazed around the room. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. and several others she didn’t recognise. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. cats are discriminated against and. as product spokespersians. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. that it would be filled with books and not much else. “Is that like the glass ceiling. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. are often negative. She imagined. though most of these were open and in use. Catstable. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. His handlebar . Salvadore Kitty. There were paintings by Catavaggio. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. Dozens of them.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. all silent. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. somehow. Pussain. Books there were. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. “only for cats?” Smiling. “First. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. Statues of cats.
To all intents and purposes. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. However there was a good reason for that. intellectual acuity. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. “Let me show you something. then rose to greet his visitors. rose from his desk. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. industrious. unerring. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond.” Kipling said calmly. Bella inhaled deeply. . he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. “I see. since the brand was a lynx in name only. proper. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. peering at her intently. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. The patriarch pushed back his chair. or said he did. turning to Orlov. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair.” Kipling conceded. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. “Correct. clandestine success. about flipper fatigue. along with the space-invader sound effects. Louis. nor the surrounding countryside. He rubbed his chin idly.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. lost in thought. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. As it was true confessions time.” Kipling said. “I see. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Orlov. Black Beauty. “And you.” he called. He knew her grandfather well. it transpired.” he continued.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. much less the BrandLand University campus. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. Indeed. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. He recognised Bella right away. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. he was less impressed by. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly.
to Kipling’s irritation. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. Bella was too stunned to respond. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. The Gruffalo. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. purple cows. the Hare and the Tortoise. all staring unblinkingly into the distance.” Orlov quipped. Toad of Toad Hall. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Bella. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. animal emblem products in particular. Bella.Animal Farm. The clouds parted. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. “Take a sip. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. surrounded by plaster cats. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. unprotected by copyright or trademark. a glass of hard liquor in hand. with a . Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. It’s a fake. She’d been out for hours. Bella awoke. “We’re talking about a state of mind. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. “If it’s not any of the buildings. used by all and sundry.” “An exceedingly good fake. Bella. Mr Kipling sat beside her. With a start. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. “So. Watership Down. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. Everything became clear. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. Call of the Wild.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. What you see. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. ACME is a generic term.” “In a way. The Ugly Duckling. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly.” he said. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. Bad as capitalism can be. She tried again. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. where we study black swans.” At a loss. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy.” A light went on above her head. worried looks on their faces. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. There is no controlling force. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly.” Bella said. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment. let alone a committee that calls the shots. I take it. “It’s more intangible than that. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. Academy Country Mammal Education.
Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. “Branding. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle.” he said. We need people like you round here. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. especially in these days of instant results. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. It’s a test. The rewards are enormous in the end. “This isn’t a snack. Very impressed. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. “Oh. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. instant impact…or else.” With a good-try smile. Exactly. however. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. Orlov dropped his eyes. separates the inseparable.” The meerkat nodded sagely. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. One was right in front of the lynx. “I’m not hungry. It was a rhetorical question. distilled from dead dogs.” Bella said. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. Aleksandr. I could acquire a taste for that. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. It looked and smelled delicious. Kipling returned to his desk. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. to her companions’ relief.” 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. aren’t they? Angel cake. someone once said. However. As Bella sat up. He succumbed. raising a flipper in protest. “We live in a world of identical products. Effective branding is a very slow process. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil.” With a knowing look. perhaps? Apple pie. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection. Curvoisier delivered. All this way for what? What indeed. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. or so the story goes. “I’m impressed. she thought. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. emphasising. “Almond slices. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. just like these slices of cake. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. instant rewards.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. though. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. instant returns. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. “No really. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. You should consider a career in academia. renders the similar dissimilar. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. say. then stowed the bottle away. .twinkle in his eye. though.” Disappointed. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. “These are the essence of branding. I’m okay. “Exactly. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. He was starving.
” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties. finishing her brandy.” “I still don’t see. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face. eyeing up the other slice. Louis struck his best cute cat pose. his rudeness. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. fast and effective. at least in the short run.” Mr Kipling replied.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed. It’s cheap. “Exactly. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices.” . You establish a monopoly.. He needn’t have bothered.” Bella said. “I think you do. Exactly. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised.. You swallow the competition.” Louis added.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
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. Next are bipedal animals. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. If anything. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. Michelin Man. However. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. say anything. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. his call for a cull of isabellines. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. those that walk or stand upright . when western capitalism also wobbled. Le Penguin didn’t want that. He wanted power. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. rather. Captain Birdseye. was counter-cyclical. It was a blatant power-play. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. in short. Had it been McKitty. Breed-interest. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. Accordingly. Bella cursed herself bitterly. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. Dogs’d do anything. Bella had never heard the expression before. they were much less photogenic than adélies. Humankind. according to Kipling. The irony. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. was motivated by self-interest. as did the early 1900s. The demand for spokescreatures. though. to say nothing of tourists. is that penguins are as popular as ever. frankly. swear to anything. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. the suckers at the centre of it all. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. designed to make his breed the boss. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. chinstraps or rockhoppers. his slaughter of the innocents. He’d concocted a credible external threat. Cute critters remind them of childhood. emperors. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. As did the Great Chain of Branding. Models and Explanations.
Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. She was going to miss him. they’d been living on a pig’s back. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. She’d fallen for it. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. by and large. Quadrupeds like cows. most notably bears. She’d been beaten. cats. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. monkeys. though not as far down as six-legged. Worse. spiders and cockroaches. She recalled. because penguins had done pretty well. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. Not completely. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. She’d been outsmarted. is red in tooth and claw. crocodiles are further down the rankings. much less millipedes. naturally. Bella felt fit to be tied. They were a study in contrasts. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. Le Penguin had won. However. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. Easy-going as a rule. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. dogs. Literally. The entire journey had been a waste of time.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. the climax of Animal Farm. or possibly rockhoppers. But all was not lost. Clearly. “I think it’s time to go. Not by a long chalk. Recession. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. “Rrrrrrrrr. The Great Chain explained a lot. meerkats and prairie dogs. She’d been a fool. where only the fittest and most vicious survive.” “Actually. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. Bella. Beaten. Louis seemed excited. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. sheep. or so she believed. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors.” Louis said. penguins. “I’ll be staying here for a while. She turned to her companions.in semi-human fashion.” Bella purred. sadly. She glanced across at Kipling. to the top of the penguin pile. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. tigers. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. at bottom. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. given its size and growth prospects. they say. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. rhinos. . They hugged. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. Not yet. with shame. Branding. guys. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. Well beaten.
Aleksandr.Sad-faced. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. “I’m staying too. I know. Clean It.” Louis laughed. including Catch It. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D.” Mirthful. You’re too kind. “You gave Kipling the look. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. “That’s our Simples secret. before whispering in his ear.0. Trim It.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. The meerkat was mistaken. Thanks.” he giggled. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. I’m a fraud. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. for starters. condiments and preserves. “I think we can do better than that. Cambridge. Attenborough. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. “If ever you need…” “Yes. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. Toast It. Her latest was called Snare It. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. I’m afraid. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. the way I skimmed so many others. Still chatting. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. with a come-here gesture to Louis. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. I could do with it. I know. “I’ve got a lot to learn. Scoff It. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. Bella. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). which was sure to prove provocative. Assam.” he said. for example. pickles. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. the vaunted TV naturalist.” the great brand man chuckled. he looked forward to attending her lecture. Cook It. I’m a fad. Follow me.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. as well as with sauces. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. and the not so highly regarded Department of . eyes shining with meerkat tears. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. kissed him on the cheek and. To his shame and embarrassment. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. Ever proper. I’m Flat Eric 2. “Why’s that. Skin It.” She leant forward. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. Apparently.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. She held him tightly. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. However. “…and. “Thanks.” Touched. Shoot It. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. Taste It. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. Beaten to his own punch line. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. But I skimmed that particular entry. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. Bella.
Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy.” Orlov said.” “Many claws make light work. Bella tried them on. Before long. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner. however. With six legs and a little get up and go. With the hood up. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. “You might be needing these for your journey. “After you’ve cleaned up here. she looked like a sacred ibis.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. while rubbing his legs gleefully. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. and. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. All six of them. one Mustapha Midden. bookstore. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall.” Orlov said. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. Her utter amazement.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak.Popular Culture. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. They were a perfect fit.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). lookingood-ladies palaver. Mustapha. raw material. “But how?” Bella asked.” He rubbed his claws again. “But where?” Louis inquired. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. they emerged into a compact. Can’t stand the cold. don’t you know. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. before you know it.” With a flourish. Eventually. “But surely. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. the great . I’m a desert rat. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. ponytails. all with a snazzy scarab logo. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. Mustapha stared at them askance. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. Under normal circumstances. “you need permission. “I’ve got something for you. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces. “All sold out. suppliers. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza.” “No can do. “I like this place. beehives. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. plus matching undergarments. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. bobcat’s your uncle. So much so. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. credit…” No less nonplussed. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. though. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. the throng dispersed.
the arbiter. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. she was gone. where she awaited further instructions. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. the scribe.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. On Kipling’s call. Bella hugged Aleksandr. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. Louis. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. .
I am. under German ownership. with impenetrable jungle on either side. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. So did Bella. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. Bella was spellbound.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. If he’d been on this Rolls. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. 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. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. It was true what they said. she was getting used to it. Why. though. suffice it to say. serene. During the appeasement era. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. She had lost her parents. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. the offbeat plan solidified. Isaac and Nina. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. redolent of Roedean. Ogilvy hated flying. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. apparently. “They don’t make ’em like you. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. much less defeated fierce macaronis. Bella replied in the affirmative.” she said. Bella didn’t hold that against her. She had nothing to lose. If not quite Anna Karenina. Bella thought. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? .” Ecstasy said immodestly. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. “Yah.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not.” she replied diplomatically. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. luxurious. lowly place though it was.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. As they flew over Fanta Falls. But after Pegasus and the Roc. 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. As they rose to their cruising altitude. anymore. she asked. Paris Humboldt. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. yah. “We fiddled while the brand burned. “You’re looking well on it. She asked instead about the brand. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta.” “Rather. she had lost her best friend.
the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. She couldn’t make it out at first. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. the deep blue Boots crevasses. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling.” All talked out. don’t fall for it. It was déjà vu all over again. Outraged. Bella believed. make the sale. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. It was invigorating. rather than the narrative that surrounds it.” Ecstasy sighed. I suppose. Almost instantly.” “Tell the tale. “Yes. She was home. He sounded crazier than ever.” “Quite. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. Better yet. all shouting as one. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. wrapped up .“That’s where we went wrong. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. Buffeted by howling winds. Before long. Suddenly she could. The bitterer the better. even though she’d no home to go to. 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 could see them pointing their flippers. It was wonderful. a penguin power play. Bella whirled round. He’s a tyrant. The muster was much better organised. It was beautiful too. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. though some adélies looked up. except that there were more macaronis than before. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. Bella could feel herself welling up. Perched on the back of a flying angel. It’s a trick. all regimented. Look. Bella screeched at the multitude below. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. in the far distance. More and more turned round and faced skywards.” Taken aback. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. an enormous shocked intake of breath. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. all equidistant. folks. moreover. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. taking in the incredible apparition above them. Bella felt a chill in the air. A murmur commenced. it was bitter. Sad. she mused. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. the Iceland ice shelf. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. look. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. She could see the Homebase Glacier. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain.” Carried away on the wind. looking for a suitable landing site. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium.
A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. However. She knew she only had one shot. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. There is no hope for us. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. in delight and relief. she must have been a baleful sight. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. The crowd gasped again. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. however.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. She bit her lip.” . preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. It was hard to control her anger. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. But he couldn’t interrupt. These were the people who’d killed her parents. I met him. All brands must pass. She took a deep breath. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. as he tried to work out her angle. a messenger. had finally arrived. Emperors.” she whispered to herself. while pulling back her khaki cowl. which of course is our community’s speciality. Antithesis. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. however. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. He quickly regained his composure. We’re all macaronis now. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. here on behalf of ACME. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. head covered in an enormous cowl. Even macaronisation won’t save us. the coming creature is the prairie dog. The Ibis. it needed several seconds to germinate. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. because she was one of their own. “Seize the day. Bella swallowed. It was risky. followed by those of gentoo descent.” Bella announced to the multitude. He vacated the microphone. She held fire. a way out for us all. with only her beak protruding. Would it were otherwise. a shot across the bows. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. “According to the Meow Jones Index. It requires a little lateral thinking. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. As one creature falls in human estimation. Inadvertently.in a great taupe cloak. it seemed. Very risky. as her image appeared on the giant screen. “There is a solution. “I am. Ten days ago. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. a sign. Denunciation was doomed.” She paused again. another rises. they seemed to say. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. The entire crowd squawked in horror. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. Having planted the seed of hope. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts.
such as our beloved macaronis. They look a little like us. They live in large communities like us. Bristling with rage. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured. asshole. we’ll cull you. of all for one. of togetherness. I’ll make an exception.” He glared murderously. you isabelline bitch. Prairie dogs are tuftless. Even our most extravagantly crested species. The old order would re-establish itself. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. she looked incredible. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. because I’ll be back.” “Not today you won’t. No more tufts. Not bemused. critter. Not sceptical. but the rewards are enormous. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts.” “Catch you later. one for all.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. will have to depilate. even though their natural crests would have to go too. like us. Enjoy it. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. “Every prairie dog has its day.” she said calmly. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. Today is my day. I know. It was the riskiest of the lot.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. She already had. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. “Fear not. a huge roar of approval rent the air. penguin parity didn’t exist. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. complete with stylish scarab logo. she turned away from the podium. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. “It means removing all tufts. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan.” the audience shouted. though. The blackfoots went bananas. Suddenly. In reality. No more hairpieces. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. Victorious. And take your tufts with you. The dream did. She had another card to play. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. though. The gentoos jumped for joy. Playful as always. Bella thought. “Fellow penguins.The audience exchanged glances. as the gathering made up its mind. Penguins are passé. It was all or nothing.” Mmmm. But with a sick slimeball like you. sadly. I want my MuMi. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise.” “Don’t cull us.” . Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. “I want my MuMi. emperors emperors. Kings could be kings. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. “I’ll get you for this. “I want my MuMi. a little like isabellines. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force.” There was complete silence for a second. No more macaronisation. where you belong. Having won over the doubters. royals royals. This is a heavy price.
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. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. Where there’s muck there’s brands. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. but really didn’t now. they dreamed dreams of freedom. Pixar and Dreamworks. Orlov had said. Rin Tin Tin. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. or to complain about stereotyping. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. there were MuMis to move. Still.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. Except it didn’t last long. Finny too. if not his totemic tufts. trampled on though they were. However. mashups and graphic novels. For ever. admittedly. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. was draining away inexorably. she told herself. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. Alone with her thoughts.and laptop-equipped cubicles. Stuart Little on the one hand. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. The cuter the critter. she’d never felt so lonely. She didn’t belong anymore. Thoughts of her dead friend. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. Akin to chained animals in their phone. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . Mickey Mouse. 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. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. In the meantime. Look on the bright side. the more they exploited it. True. Sean the Sheep on the other. 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. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. since penguin popularity had never been higher. according to Mr Kipling. It was unnecessary. She never really did. Donald Duck. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. Thoughts of her late parents. she had a job to do. prevalent though pigeonholing was. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. be it the iPod.
He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. she said her fashionista farewells.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. such as it was. Bella. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. because they already embody the brand. The sun was low in the sky. she Skypied Mustapha. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. Bella was all alone. the ride was really rather thrilling. you know. On a whim. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. She glanced around. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. No one was looking.” “I hope you realise. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest. It was time to pay her final respects. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. Mustapha. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. air kiss. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. Ciao. darling. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. Evening. She stared over the edge of the glacier. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. Seemed pretty stout. smiling at the strangely distant memory. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. Actually. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. She had a busy time ahead of her.” Mustapha countered.” With a smile of admiration. especially to those without them. Mustapha changed the subject. if there were problems with build quality. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. Logistics. She felt the material with a flipper. “I’ll work on it. “that there are forty million cats up north. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. Mummies are special. Laughing. let alone satanic macaronis. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. who was hard at work on his furballs. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. Mustapha. The crevasse caught her eye. “I’ll be needing agents. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. I’ll be passing on P&G.” “Goody! Gotta go. was drawing in. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. many maintain.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. She checked her MuMi ensemble. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. suffice it to say. Mummies mean a lot. . “I hope you realise. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. Air kiss.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy.” she chided. However.deliverer.
screaming. more like. “Izzy. she remembered the wall of death. slow-witted leopard seals. Recklessly. Despite her abject terror. “You should be ashamed of yourself. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. the precipitous final plunge. trying to focus. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. unquestionably. howling.” he observed. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. Pepsi-cola Blue. The previous ride was coming back to her. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. She corkscrewed like crazy. Paris. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. It got caught around her ankles. The looming twosome merged into one. moaning and groaning. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. to no avail.” . Alarm bells ringing. Both of them did. her death wish. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. She bounced over bumps several times. Bella shook her head. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. beak aching. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. the great divide. young woman. BMW Blue. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. Isaac and Nina. A sheet anchor. Go faster. She tried to kick the thing off. The kaleidoscopic colours. my head hurts. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss.” Bella dived head-first into the void. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. She could see stars. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. But only for a second. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. but was far too fearful to care. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. past slackjawed. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. Uncle Izzy.” “I…I…I…Oh. across the bay. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. in fact. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. Waterlogged. She hurtled round bends. She might even have looped the loop on occasion.“Weeeeeeeeee. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. punctuated by periods of blind panic. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. were incredible to behold. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. She’d forgotten how fast it was. however. more like. eyes watering. apart from that downpour up the jungle. not looking where she was going. shrieking with alarmed laughter. the warp-factor slide into the sea. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. Pale Tiffany blue to start. All of a sudden. A death sentence. as there always are. She pushed and pushed and pushed. it descended through IBM Blue. no way. yourself especially. Head throbbing. water-resistant.
” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. They assumed the worst.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. Plans to get a real job. But her outfit saved her. to his delighted consternation. followed his indicative flipper. and then she saw them. “Worried sick.” He had her on “are”.” Smiling indulgently. Disappearing off like that. Staggered. There the heiress was. young lady. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. daddy. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug.” “Miracles never cease. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. a proper job. They rushed toward her. Bella leapt up. looking pale and interesting. not knowing what to expect. “Paris is perfectly fine. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. Bella’s parents came to join her. Warned by the adolescent gentoos.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. “Mummy. to one side of the wall of death divide. it was Bella’s decision. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. mummy. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. surrounded by screens. “No. backs bowed. There’s a bit of scarring. she toward them. you say?” “Yes.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. “So. she hugged her parents with all her might. daddy. daughter of mine. manifestly in mourning.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. Daddy. heads bent.” They looked up. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. no. all distant relatives. huddled together. what have you been doing with yourself. head completely clear. “Your parents are worried sick about you. she didn’t know what to say. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. sleeping gently. mummy.” . you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. Bella scampered across to her best friend. Without a by your leave.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. However. The decision was made. Overcome with emotion. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. She peeped anxiously over the screen. We smuggled her to safety. but she’ll live. you know. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. You owe them an apology. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. They all talked at once. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. She’s happy the way she is. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. They couldn’t find her. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. daddy. worried sick. They had their hands full with Paris. Ecstatic. dearest.
it’s a long story.“What??!!” “As I said.” THE END . Let me explain.
—Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. on the web. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. plans and profitability. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. prospects. you know. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. So much so. Way back in the early days of the company. the ebullient founder of Amazon. because we need to be the . someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings.” “Or a plan. who would win?” And. 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. 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. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. Daisey.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known.” Needless to say. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. for example.” “Like a secret message. that at some point in the proceedings. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. I have no fucking idea. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. “That’s a good question. Although no topic was taboo. without fail. and the perfect work will do both. Who will win. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle.com. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle.
but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. Granted. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. short. interestingly. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. I conceded. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. 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.2 Much to my surprise. today’s multi-tasking. Puma’s puma. the bears who come equipped. Some students were blown away. and. favourably. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. I mused. I surmised. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. petroleum. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. Jaguar’s jaguar. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. a sure fire cure for insomnia. I made a start on several others. I mean. Bears with guns. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. the case studies in the original – railroads. All things considered. the students hated Levitt’s essay. enthusiastically. is the secret lovechild of Betty Crocker and the Michelin Man? Are Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima related? Does Morris the Cat eat Charlie the Tuna on Fridays? These are some of the questions I set out to answer in The Penguin’s Progress. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. I fully expected the students to respond positively. Some time ago. We begin with a little bit of backstory. hey. boring.armed bears. They found it dull. Maybe. I asked a large group of students to read Ted Levitt’s legendary article “Marketing Myopia” and write down their reactions to the great guru’s words of wisdom. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). it pains me to report. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. I cast around for excuses. Aflac duck. But.3 Taken aback by this reaction. Maybe. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. Maybe. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. though. admittedly. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. I didn’t get round to most of them. bombastic and.
I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. The antidote. secret codes proliferated. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. In my case. while queuing up for the cash register. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. Undeterred. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). I had never written fiction before. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. One was the latest management bestseller. Let alone thrillers. I did what many novice novelists do. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. There was only one problem. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part.Unfortunately.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. and The Lost Logo. as an aberration. what’s more. If anything. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. When flying around the country. clearly. As an inveterate booklover. Except that I did. . The second was a Stephen King or a Robert Ludlum or a John Grisham or a Jackie Collins or a Barbara Taylor Bradford or something broadly similar. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. much less reading the wretched things. the writing role model was Dan Brown. But then I noticed something intriguing. Agents & Dealers. They cost an absolute fortune. You couldn’t make it up. Nevertheless. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. as a quirk of the Irish. Between 2005 and 2008. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. 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. if not undaunted. tongue-in-cheek. Once again. Marilyn Monroe. The Marketing Code. as they say.5 Dead bodies abounded. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. My students. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. in effect. as did Bono. by the task I’d set myself. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. naturally).
Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. consumer behaviour. 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. Crocs shoes. action sequences especially. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. Essentially. Students. was that I tried to do too much.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. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. similarly. However. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. etc. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. The same is true of fiction. if truth be told. Yes. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. though. However. full stop. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. the kernel for the covering. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. say. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. Like any learner. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. of William Golding. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. Stork margarine. chronology. And quite a few of my later ones. Nowadays. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. My original intention was to leave things there. Red Bull energy drink. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. techniques and writing style of academia. True. as it gave me . never mind bring them all together successfully. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. It seemed like an interesting project and. By far my biggest mistake. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. The whole process. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. characterisation and more besides. Ditto my fiction. My intention was to tap into the narrative turn in management thinking while building upon the fable/fairytale foundations that had produced the management bestsellers I alluded to in the Foreword. I suppose. pacing. funnily enough. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. 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.In retrospect.).
a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. In this case. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. wasn’t impressed. Rob Williams. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. Rob cut through the crap. bits of bytes brought together as books. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. et al. I mean. 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”. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” . he commanded.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. meanwhile. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. computer applications et al. car parking in Tel Aviv.7 In music. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. are exemplary media mashups. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. mashups are digital medleys. videos. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. Stop writing parodies. admittedly. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. the breakup of rock band Oasis. songs. Whistler. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. the reader. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. not unlike those in the Decameron. the way I did before. Canterbury Tales. What’s more. In television. My brilliant publisher. Bring the brands to life. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. The Penguin’s Progress was born. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. Arabian Nights. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. Pom Somkabcharti. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. In the literary world. In the visual arts. Let the brand characters be characters. In movies. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters.
though a hardline. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. which features more than 3. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. for certain consumers at any rate. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. As one commentator ruefully observes: . numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. consumer response has been highly favourable. however. in the main. their intellectual property. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. 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. True. let alone Red Lobster. Ask any counterfeiter. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. Indeed.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. between the covers of glossy magazines. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. That said. What’s more. Brand characters are trademarked. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. Pattern Recognition. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. Charlie the Tuna. There’s an elephant in the room.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. That elephant is called copyright. among others). of late. In a shared narrative space. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. she’s Borden born and bred. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. their copyrights. fan fiction. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. on roadside billboards.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. Jennifer Government. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness.
The Bedside Book of Beasts. Alun Richards. 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. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. live to regret it. 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. It does so with satirical intent. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. TPP is an attempt to do just that. We seek to empower kingdoms.10 I can’t deny. the author. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. last but not least. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. unconventional ways. professional sports teams. Just think of Handel. As pastoralists and sport hunters.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. should be directed at me. the “Faber Fellowship”. nations. For one thing. then we may all. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. though. As a critic by inclination. Any criticism. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. I grant you. bears or tigers. hawks or eagles. who was a notorious borrower. Rob Williams. except for the lawyers. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. their teeth and genital organs. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. And yet. and. the standard academic article. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. original. the genius screenwriter. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. but the conventional marketing textbook. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. my incredible family – Linda. we pulverise their livers and bones. This attempt may not be successful. the dreadful how-to tome. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. however. That’s their prerogative. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. As if. To normal human beings. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. Madison. . ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace.
7. Among northern peoples. My only defence is that. 4. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. 6. It’s very widely cited. compared to some mid-life crises. and body-parts from the earliest of times. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. 2002). or scavengers. Speaking personally. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. mine has been reasonably productive. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. as a card-carrying academic. we need to explore other platforms. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. As a group. or a deceptive mixture of the two. such as iPhone apps. See Stephen Brown. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. helpful or destructive. pp. for example. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. computer games and videography. in what seems to be a search .com (Fourth Estate. 5. experiment and belief. 2004. pp. 2005). But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. Marketing Theory 4 (3). I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. However. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. Still available from all good charity shops. London. Thank you for reading this far. whose art takes from then and now. You glutton for punishment. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. The younger generations are prepared to read. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. from Claude and the comic book. Don’t all rush at once. Both. 9899. and the ancestors of humanity. 3.com Notes and References 1. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals.Mike Daisey. Yes. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. bears are renowned spirit guides. scientific and irrational.sfxbrown. you! If you have any comments on the novel. 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. and Christ the Lion of Judah. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting.feathers. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. This may well be so. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. 209-238. 1986). “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. I’m acutely conscious that. 2. are available in his excellent anthology. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. As with all symbolic representations. London. incidentally. New York.
pp. 21. Sunday 25 April. 9. pp. 5 June. Braun. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. On the on-going copyright debate. 2009). 19 (1). Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. “Entering a whole new head space”. London. p. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. 2008). 2002. John Naughton. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. The Observer. London.for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. 8. 2008). The Sunday Times. 10. 2005) and his more recent polemic. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. Kathryn A. Chicago. 2010. 2010). Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. Loftus. 2010. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. New York. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. Culture Magazine. . Psychology and Marketing. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. 1-23. 6-7). check out Lawrence Lessig. London. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton.
Joe Isuzu. Cheeka. the Vlasic stork. After trawling through websites. all told. assorted Scottish Widows and many. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. a shades-wearing. the Coppertone Girl. Most of these mentions. the Bon Ami . a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Veritably Clean. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. the Michelin Man. Bertie Bassett. the Hofmeister beer bear. the Vodaphone pug. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. my dataset comprised 1. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. 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. perhaps inevitably. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). Crazy Eddy.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Nipper. We know a lot about ourselves. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. Anthropomorphically speaking.2 It follows. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man.com sock puppet. the Bisto family. the Pets. the Mytag repair man. Ronald McDonald. Morris the Cat. Aunt Jemima. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. the Burger King. the Gold Blend couple. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). Julius Pringles.R. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. or the Noid. Colonel Saunders. the HMV dog. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Pillsbury Doughboy. the Morton Salt Girl. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Uncle Ben.1 Well. J. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. 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. whether it be A Bathing Ape. moreover. not entirely. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Johnny English. Hartley. such as Hello Kitty. Captain Birdseye. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. are made in passing. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. Elsie. many more. Fido Dido. Howard Brown. the Borden cow. Of this total. this is as it should be because “We are people.151 individual entries.
dolphins. Kangaroos sneakers. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. spiders. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. Aliens. the Calvin Klein polo pony. freedom. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. As you might expect. In some cases. Jaguar cars. Birds. Mr Clean. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. when the space race. Insects. fecundity. multiply. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. Penguin books. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. 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. whereby the brand name. the Dodge ram. ladybirds. Cobra beer. perhaps surprisingly. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. anthropomorphic mobile phones. storks bring children. South Africa of springboks. Woodpecker cider. bring up the rear. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. unsurprisingly. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Chiquita Banana. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. Australia of kangaroos. the Monster. Toilet Duck. Crocs shoes. the Aflac duck. needless to say. Dove deodorant. France is fond of roosters.com and Bell Canada beavers.chickens. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. mystify. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). India of elephants and so forth. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. Shell petrol. This is very much in keeping . Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. Tom Tomato). More recently. as are personified fruits. In addition to the overall pattern. Wild animals are rather less popular. the logo. the Lacoste crocodile. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Mr Kipling cakes.3 A secular trend is evident too. vegetables and plants (e. Broadly speaking. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). albeit butterflies. fireflies and. Camel cigarettes. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. caterpillars. cuckoos cause trouble. owls impart wisdom. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). The match model is characterised by congruence. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. However. turtles and lizards. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. Puma sportswear. Mr Peanut. no less). whales. for instance. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. Cap’n Crunch cereal. Betty Crocker. mix. furthermore. Californian Raisins. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. etc). The first of these involves national animals.g. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. seahorses. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. thanks to Steven Spielberg. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. eagles and horses are popular in America. Le Coq Sportif.
the Budweiser Clydesdales. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. The fourth stage. don’t complain. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. There are currently six M&M spokescandies.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. begat Chipper. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). all things considered. Multiply. by contrast. rarely go off the rails and.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. 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. similarly. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. the Lacoste crocodile. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. Geoffrey. though. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. Chester. whose name you’ll never ever guess. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. believe me). the MGM lion. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. the Kool cigarettes penguin. the belief that if one critter is good. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. the Toys R Us giraffe. each with their own colourful personality. glowering. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. but the mystify strategy is something else again. the 9Lives spokescat. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. Maturity is marked by multiplication. the penguin. the Trix rabbit. Morris. Since 1994. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. In effect. Willie. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. Larabee. the HMV dog. the Airwick ostrich. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. basically speak on behalf of the brand. At one stage. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. black. Nipper. way back when. Beauregard. That said. animal mascots are not immortal. Congenital critter creep is one thing. fire-breathing dog with six legs. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. the Cheetos cheetah. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. the Hush Puppies basset hound. indeed. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. Leo. except that they work for free. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. is perhaps the .
5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music.most fascinating of all. promiscuous rabbits etc. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. age. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). their “natures”. religion. uncertainty and rapid technological change. which increases opportunities to view. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. more cherubic. the same is not true of animals. nevertheless. their personalities. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. if anything.7 Whatever else is . We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. Childhood is a time when animism runs riot and if consumers are becoming increasingly child-like in their buying behaviour then the cult of kidulthood is a blessing in disguise for animal brand managers. like death. 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 childlike. 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. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. social class. gender. Pace Goya. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. wise owls. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. animals remain fair game. etc. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. The brand character. sly foxes. etc. the sleep of reason produces mascots. 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. more cuddly.0 – cf. stupid cows. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. Their characters. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). In this regard. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. Le Penguin notwithstanding. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. gets younger. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). cheeky monkeys.6 Be that as it may. so too today’s terrorist outrages. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. True. In general terms. continue to be caricatured and vilified. sexual orientation.
1936). p.com. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Stewart Guthrie. Note. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The sum effect is arrested development.said. Stephen J. New York. www. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. 89). 3. far less hardy. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. the more things stay the same. Gould. pp. If you want to suffer further. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. Oxford. 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. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). 1979. Anthropomorphically. Pegasus and so on). 13 July. however. 89) explains. accessed 4 May 2010. London. 129. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. 2009). more submissive. C’est la vie. 88 (1). twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. griffins. My database. check out Stephen Brown. about our great economic cataclysm. xi. Cambridge. in years to come. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. 30-36. 2001). London. 5. BTW. at any rate. London. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. Tony the Tiger’s only son. 4. 2000). Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage.rollingstone. phoenixes.8 Notes and References 1. 1964. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. Matt Taibbi. Claude Lévi-Strauss. p. 8. 2009. incidentally. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. “The great American bubble machine”. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. p. 2.This worldview. 2004). Natural History. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. [original 1962]. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. Cambridge. . “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. Lovejoy. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. trans. 7. many of which can fly (dragons. The more things change in western capitalism. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. 1995). There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). Totemism. p.