The Penguin’s Progress

:
A Mashup for Managers

by

Stephen Brown

In Loving Memory

Isobel Brown (1919-2008)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VII

Brands Can Only Get Better

Chapter Nineteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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