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A Mashup for Managers
In Loving Memory
Isobel Brown (1919-2008)
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead
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 . Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples. Tony.Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony.
pig. 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”. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. via the “beast fables” of Aesop.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. Sydney Swans). I don’t know. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. dance steps . Anthropomorphism. as are our haircuts (pony-. Andersen and Adams. is a universal trait. How he got in my pyjamas. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. It is ancient and ineradicable. The totem poles of native Americans. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. 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”. 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. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. however. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. There’s one thing I do know for certain. one and all.and duck-tails). never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. like Tony the Tiger. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. A great mascot. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. Apuleius. the constellations in the heavens. We’re anthropomanes. Chicago Bears.1 Twenty years hence. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. They are the embodiment of the brand. presumably. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man.
graphic novels (Maus. cash cows. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. orbiting hairballs.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. For others. self- . hidden hands. SimAnimal. welfare. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. breathing. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. Fables. cartoon strips (Peanuts. emotions. find that this is much easier said than done. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters.(foxtrot. because it is in our best interest to do so. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. men on the moon. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. Fred Basset). horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas.6 Even natural scientists. for example). furthermore. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. dead dogs. which considers our earth to be a living. hearts. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. Needless to say. are routinely regarded as organisms.3 For some. Ninja Turtles). limbs and the like. bunny hop. its ubiquity is not in doubt. consciousness. getting ducks in a row. 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. Angry Birds). hive minds. It helps us identify potential predators. animal spirits. apes in the corner office. fail whales and weasel words beyond number.9 Business organisations. long tails. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. If anything. tarantella). lungs. associated with childhood in particular. fat cats. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. Far Side. computer games (EyePet. big hairy audacious goals. black swans. Getting it right means survival. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. storytelling squirrels and so forth.5 What’s more. dancing elephants. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. cheese moving mice. it is a developmental trait. 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. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. with brains. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks.
However. moreover. Squirrel Inc. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. forage. is to educate as well as entertain. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts.13 This is a book about brand mascots. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. flourish and fight for the right to party. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. say. Undergraduate students especially. Who Moved My Cheese?. Guinness. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. the legendary American adman.11 Viewed in this context. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. But many of them lack pizzaz.10 Indeed. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. Meanwhile. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. It’s a work. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. Brer Rabbit. Winnie-the-Pooh. managers and would-be marketing managers. Black Beauty. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. much as I hate the neologism. The Way of the Rat. Wind in the Willows. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. is “alive inside”. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. Its ultimate aim. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. much less White Fang. Or. flirt. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. 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. There are lots of books about brands and branding. both tearful and terrifying. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. much to the relief of consumers. to be more precise. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. after a fashion. insofar as it features a secondary world.regulating entity. . advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. of edutainment for marketers. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. Watership Down. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. 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. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. As such.
The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. new offer. then. not to say a “take-away” or two. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. Products and services do not sell themselves. Hopefully. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. are inherently conservative (raving fans. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. however. have been around for a very long time. Persuasion is the key word here. In a world of identikit products and services. All the way to Clone City. The fifth P. especially so). in short. though. cajoled. facts and more facts. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. They increase output. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. The theories. like the fifth element. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. they are prone to the next big thing thing. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. The Customer is Always Right Wing. The Next Big Thing Thing. new whatever). persuaded. It is also true of principles. To Thy Own Brand Be True. frankly. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. The go-to brand. Worse. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. new platform. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. Less is Sore. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. if one makes a move (new feature. shake things up and refresh the brand. better yet. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. it is matched forthwith. Just for you. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. long before customers feel that way. for fear of being left behind. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. prosumers. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. They don’t need more of anything. of out-and-out obstinacy. The best loved brands. hive minds and what have you. though. all of which are functionally equivalent. They have to be convinced. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. is quintessence.14 I’m conscious. of antipathy. Consumers. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds.15 The Fifth P is a Q. however. they extend the range. they . the epitome. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. by and large. new product. Managers feel the need to make changes.As a storyteller. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. the exemplification of that niche. in the mass. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. becoming the embodiment. Action-minded by inclination.
as was the dismayed £ sign. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. Childishness. . 4 June. as academics like me are inclined to do. Zoomorphism is the opposite. 23 May. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. 2010. Campaign. 4. “Money”. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. the brand may benefit in the long term. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. targeting the child within is no bad thing. Thumper. “Crocodile” Dundee. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. likewise. for instance). 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. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. Thomas the Tank Engine). p. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. there’s one other issue. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle.make the products more readily available. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. Reduced availability increases desire. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. see Matt Williams. 2010. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. free gifts. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. is not to be sneezed at. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. Dumbo. 3. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. 2010 Notes and References 1. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. 31. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. However. 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. But don’t take my word for it.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. The Observer. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. Donald Duck). p. “reification”. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. Richard the Lionheart). Christine. Oh yeah.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. Strictly speaking. 2. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. nostalgia-prone world.
Oxford. 2007). My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. BTW. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. 2010. 343-373. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. It’s full of animal errors. pp. 15. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. London. 7. 1993). Images of Organization. 14. the key statement is John S. 11. According to Morgan Trimble. “Smarter than you think”. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. 9. 215). A story without conflict is not only anodyne. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. Naturally. 23 May. The Observer. Cambridge. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. Journal of Consumer Research. “Scientists are people too. 14. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. They fail to appreciate that conflict. p. Kennedy. 10. This book. updated edition (Sage. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. 19. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests.4. See. for example. 6. stories are on the up and up. Incidentally. p. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. soporific and so forth. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. 1992). 12. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. The companies acts. 2005). 8. 2010. New York. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. “If you want to survive. 2006). pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. it’s not completely inaccurate either. insipid. 2009). 13. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. don’t be ugly…be cute”. are second to none. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. Needless to say. Gareth Morgan. 1998. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. 2008) and Tony Thorne. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. 5. 24 (3). London. . nevertheless. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. by all accounts. 2005). Why Look at Animals (Penguin. They are bland at best and boring at worst. The Sunday Times. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. London. 17 January. London. 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. the character may well go global in due course. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. John Berger. Richard Conniff. London. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. Lions.
The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. . where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol.16. bottled water. sugar and so on). This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. salt. etc. though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread.). It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods.
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
” The tease worked. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics.” Paris pouted. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. one-piece costumes. you know. The S&R logo. for one.” she said. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. Not only were they completely unnecessary. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. She had more important things on her mind. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. She twisted and turned. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. Paris. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. Fashion. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. gloves. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. “Pelican pink is so this season. Bella Adélie shook her head. what do you think? Am I way cool. “It’s a Silo & Roy. Silo and Roy. berets. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit.” Exasperated. “I’m not sure pink suits you. a joint venture with Versace. figure-hugging. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. struggling to keep her face straight. beakaplasty. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. Pounds too. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. “Hmmm. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. bending this way and that. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. “Seriously. The fad started innocently enough. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. She needn’t have bothered. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. was almost as well known as . hot to trot. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt.
kicked up a heel. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. you should be more careful. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. darling. A sob stuck in her crop. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. whirled. 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. the wind was light. smiled. and share a McFlurry with the great man. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. You should try some of this. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. crunchy crustaceans. the temperature hovered around freezing.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem.” She said it without thinking. Mmmmm. Bella. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. some said. “With your genes.Armani’s stylised eagle. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. “Mmmmm.” Paris warned. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. she twirled. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. I’m lovin it. others contended. in truth. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. It’s delish. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. Consequently. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. Or several. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. simpered. which was tantamount to tropical. Paris. “I’m sorry. But Bella knew better.” Bella mumbled.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. yet others complained. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. admiring her outfit. For all her selfabsorption. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark.” Bella replied lightly. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. She adored McDonald’s. An egomaniac. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. iPods to dolphins. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. a spoiled rich kid. The sea was calm. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. Bella. as she so often did. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror.” Paris stuttered. the sky was blue. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. she was a bit roomy at the rear. the brand mascot’s brand mascot.
admittedly. her gene pool. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. Okay. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Bella.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. her uniqueness. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. They’re making another Madagascar movie.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. Darling. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. I’ve got something for you. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. Paris. preened and paused every so often to fling open her outfit for the fantasy A-listers in the front row and the admiring ranks of imaginary photographers at the end of the runway. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. Except that pink was now in. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. Bella. But Paris declined. surely you know that. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. I trust. much better than black. “Here. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded.” Bella commanded. Paris wiped her eyes. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. in fact. flicking open the Happy Meal container. fast later.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much.” “Oh goodie.” Paris exploded with laughter. “No can do. “Come here immediately. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. I won’t take no for an answer. Be honest. “What do you reckon?” she called. black and more black. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest. where elephant seal pups frolicked. Gastric band. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. posing provocatively. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. Clearly. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. Paris. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. On the contrary. starve now. Brown was the new black. if she was related to a leopard seal. A gift? Tiffany. flipper on hip.” “What.asked. She did. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. Cerise was chichi.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. sniggering. “Get this down your gullet. like hedge-hopping rainbows. They looked delicious. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. Penguin porn degrades our species. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. bar none.” Bella said. “Okay. Right now. You’re coming with me to the food court. “Don’t be a silly billy. Casting next week.” .
I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna.” the soon-to-be superstar said.“And the drastic gastric band.” “No. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. hoping against hope that . “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. “I always carry one.” Filling up.” “Well. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. Paris hugged her mottled companion.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. Her face was a frozen mask. maybe?” “Um. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. Bella. She turned to her companion on shore. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. as was the polar predator’s wont. They’ve been performing since incubation. Penguinapping is commonplace. Panic stricken. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. if not before. “Grrr. Grrrrr. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. oblivious to the threat. you know how it is in showbiz. She knew that the part was hers. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. “Tell you what.” Paris doth protest too much. “Grrrrrrrr.” “Grrrr. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan.” she said with an apologetic smirk. as anyone would. right?” “Le Tigre. 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. apparently. “It won’t take long.” Bella knew very well.” Bella shouted back. I’ll be fine. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. never mind “this’ll do fine”. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. just in case. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. tossed her up into the air. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. Bella mused.” “Whatever you say. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages.
There was no sign of life. Ripped. indeed. her designer pride and joy. Bella took a closer look. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. . bitten and bloody. Aghast. Bella wept. Bloodstained. A dismembered limb. Tearful.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. Sodden. To die for. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. she fished the outfit out.
penguins of every imaginable breed. In more ways than one. Stifling a sob. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. Distraught. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. The sun was stronger. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. bellowing elephant seals. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. clusters of chinstraps. she clambered up the ice steps. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. bands of blackfoots. hushed. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. expectant. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. in the lee of the LG glacier. With a heavy heart. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. onto its snow-strewn top. more likely. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. Gentoos. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. perhaps. nevertheless. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. Blamed. There were knots of kings. like stones across a millpond. Reported to the penguin police force. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. belching. and emerged huffing and puffing. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. the views were spectacular. stumbled toward the shoreline. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. Oddly. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. No parent. as everyone knows. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. What else could she do? It was her duty. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. A microphone screeched. weeping all the while. where she paused to catch her breath. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. overcome with grief. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. the agglomeration was completely silent. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. Picking up speed as they descended. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. species and stripe.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured.
cheating layabouts. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. Until the crowd closed up. the sapphire-studded collar. “Nice outfit. Her presence was not appreciated. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. some bristled their feathers. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. BrandLand. They couldn’t be trusted. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big.. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. bitch. who were no-good.multitudes. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. His crest. lying. Bella ignored the crackpot celebrity’s irresponsible rant – it was the usual right wing nonsense about breeding and purity and bloodlines and ethological cleansing – while steering a course through the tightly packed penguins. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. Her rate of progress improved immediately. S&R. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. “This. the carefully clipped pelt.. “is Dr Dogeatdog. double-dealing. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. nodding their approval. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. Although she was well used to hostility. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Curiously. Devils in disguise. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. Hesitantly. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. blubbery macaroni. Not never. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. As the long way round would have taken forever. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. she had no alternative. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. bloated. Lookin’ good. It was magnificent. A few snooty royals turned to attack. Not now.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here. though. husky or not. as the star took to the stage.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech.
Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. has concluded that a cull is called for. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. ACME. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. ACME. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. Worse was to come from the canine. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. The penguin brand is overexposed. “Six weeks ago. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. Out. bluster.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. Out. Shouts of “ACME. Penguins have jumped the shark. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. the worst in living memory. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. Out. The kings kept their own council. however. ACME. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they.” Screeches of feedback. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. they’d be okay. 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. in other words. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. oversold. overstretched. Whatever happened. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak.” The uproar was indescribable. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. Out. Emperors exploded in anger. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. Worse. ACME’s chief executive. the legendary Mr Kipling. Charlie the Tuna. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. Out. blether. ACME. and that’s saying something. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. Penguins have saturated the market. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation.” Dogeatdog reported. Penguins are out of fashion. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. “ACME. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. The bubble of blarney. on account of the drastic economic recession. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. Out. ACME. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . unperturbed by the distant disturbance. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. to be precise. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. Over. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. A 10% cull.
his voice a low-throated rumble. his raddled face set in serious mien. There were no dissenting voices. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. by far the most populous penguin species. No. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma.” Le Penguin croaked. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. chinstraps and gentoos. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. no penguin gain. We’ve cornered the mascot market. The decision is yours. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%.term. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. Good day to you all. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. Why would there be? . Indeed. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. “Brothers and sisters. a blessing in disguise. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. He reported that the emperors. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. No penguin pain. if the least high profile. as the order’s most overexposed species. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. “Fellow penguins. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.” he began. 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. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. No. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. However. “the last few years have been good for us. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. The multitude fell silent once more. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. he paused for effect. He announced that his own macaronis. We’ve got to face facts.” 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.” Ever the showman. It was a done deal. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders.” The big screen went blank. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. They know what needs to be done.
Bella was falling behind. rockhoppers. their marvellously mottled appearance. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. anything. The superslick surface. Paris’s parents would have to wait. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. it was a death trap. their difference. She had to warn them. was almost entirely frictionless. they’d taken pride in their otherness. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. 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. Her parents were dead meat. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. it came pretty close. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. 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. She had to do something. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. however. Bella stared into the chasm. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. pitch-black ice tunnel. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. with murder in mind. The rookery nook. Digging in her heels made no difference. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. Bella jumped feet first into the void. There was only one thing for it. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. breathing heavily. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. On the contrary. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. Petrified. There was no time to waste. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. The hostile crowd was already dispersing.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. she closed . Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier.
skimming. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. And failed. Anguished. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. panting with exhaustion. A petrel. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. Luckily. hunched behind a boulder. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. backing it into a corner. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. probably. A large leopard seal loomed before her. A dirty rotten rat. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. Fffft. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. Ffffft. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. possibly. though. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. She didn’t know which way to turn. Excitedly. It stopped. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. They’d been rounded up already. She opened her eyes fractionally. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. in the community’s communal crèche. The wetsuit. Then stopped. Ffft. Ffft. deserted. It was completely devoid of life. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. Then started again. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. was ripped to shreds. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. you slimy son of a sheathbill. carooming.” . Our Flipper. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. Fffft. yet with a mounting sense of dread. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. Some nests were still warm. licking his lips. They’d been taken away and taken out. Ffffffft. but a great divide in the path. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. “I’ve got you now. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. Flippers fully extended. Bella cried out. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. A crab. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. she advanced toward the creature. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. disturbed the eerie silence. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. it wasn’t a wall. she clambered over the rocky detritus. close to her parents’ nest. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. She screeched and tried to stop. most likely. twitching. Something was moving.
“Aleksandr Orlov. I think you have. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit.” Bella was at a loss.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder.Astonishingly. London’s over there somewhere.” he drawled. erect-eared. sharp-faced. We know a . inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled.6 million hits on my homepage. “Modesty forbids.000 Twitter followers and 3.” Orlov said. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. dragging deeply.” he drawled. Sleepy. all things considered. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year. “You. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. I don’t know who you are. you understand. Very. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge.” Bella was baffled. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. “I haven’t finished with you yet. Sleepy. Not in a good way. “How dare you address me like that. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. at your service. The Russian steppes are thataway. I am the face of a price comparison website. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. My catchphrase is Simples. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. With a so-what show of indifference. You are feeling sleepy. a radio talk-show compère. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica.” “Simples?” “Simples.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. Towering head and shoulders above her.” he sighed. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. Don’t you know who I am?” “No.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. “Sleepy. 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. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. but I am big in Britain and Russia and.” the penguin snarled. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. Taken aback. 32. you disgusting wetback.” “Oh. the slender-torsoed. my dear. the proud possessor of 600. bless his cotton candy socks. of course. Very. trying her best to appear menacing.000 Facebook friends.
However. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. Hit singles. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME. she was first in line for the chop. perhaps we could pool our resources.” With a glottal gabble. she blocked his path.” But Bella beat him to it. Advertising awards. He knows the score.” he said. if you must know.thing or two about hypnotism. “since you put it like that. Not so Simples now. where she’d left it. I’m looking for someone. But I prefer not to mix with the. Flippers on hips. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. Two species are better than one. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. As the only mottled penguin in residence. not to say subliminal advertising. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. “Simples.” Bella started to step aside. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. avian classes. “Well. He looked around. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. . much less dun-coloured rodents. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. “Sorry. Flat Eric’s been there. They’re here. “He was a sort of soft toy.” “I see. “Flat Eric. meerkat. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. “Suit yourself.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. ripped and ragged. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. They looked resolute. Are you going to explain yourself or am I going to poke out those pretty little eyes of yours with this big bad beak of mine?” The aristocratic rodent showed no dismay at the failure of his mesmerism demonstration. he dropped off the grid. Nor did Orlov. It’s a life-long learning.” “Mmmmm. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. Enormous name recognition. right beside the isabelline refuge. “Too late.” He made to go. as if taking in the cave for the first time. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. We meerkats are social animals.” Bella shook her head. 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. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside.” He winked.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. The S&R wetsuit lay. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. “I don’t think so. um. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. a sock puppet.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
And bickering amongst themselves.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. as he excavated ever-faster.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. he was off. Indomitable. “Well. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. Every second was precious. stab. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. There was no way those monsters could follow. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. although the fit was tight. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. clawing like crazy. I can’t believe it’s not butter. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. They paused at the mouth of the cave. determined. She could hear them discussing their strategy. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. they said.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. Their bulk. scurrying. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery. you flat-footed fool. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. don’t you know. suspecting a trap. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. but nothing like it used to be.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. who stopped again. Bella shook her head. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. “Meerkats. . Orlov seized the moment. The old enmities are behind us. tear. We didn’t think we needed it any more. There was no escape. scampering. She struggled to keep up. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. “Let’s go. Bella snuggled in behind him and. There’s still a bit of discrimination. uncompromising.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. mercifully. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. searching for the ice. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice.and snow-filled shaft. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. ever-upward. adélies are much more petite than emperors. blocking out the bright sunlight.
not a shearwater in sight. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. My routine is sacrosanct.” With a heavy sigh. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. Simples. Stand-ins. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. You’ll have a lot to talk about. body doubles. The thin crust gave way from time to time. frankly. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. he spluttered. dropping down on all fours. apparently. if you’ve had enough for one day. allegedly. Pity. Or earshot.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. “Oh. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. He fell into step beside Bella. They’re famous for it. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. The reshoots were ridiculous. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. You have a lot in common. then it’s midnight through September. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . through the worst of the winter. The place was deserted. However. digging.” Bella snorted. but ACME is not on my agenda. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. sometime in the middle of April. Enjoy the twilight while you can. I’ll accompany you for a little while. even more gallantly. They never let anyone forget it.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. dashing forward. not a skua. “The rookery’s thataway. darting back.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. “Sundown?” she scoffed.” Chastened for the moment. my dear. It must be adhered to rigorously. “When danger calls. blocking her path. They had a lot of reshoots too. though. The man’s a slave driver. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. They’re big girl’s blouses.” Agitated.” he observed. claymation models. Orlov said nothing. Their feet sank in with a hiss. digging. They march for months on end. you know. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. not a penguin. The snow squeaked as they walked. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. “Forgive me. digging. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. Gallantly. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. Orlov just kept digging. Orlov scampered alongside. “Impossible. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. “dandies discard. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair.
With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. But you didn’t believe me. preventing further progress. “Explain yourself. You’re a minx. It was feline. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. Astounded.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. they ploughed on. sleepy. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. “I like a bird with spirit. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. Let’s wake him. Minxes and lynxes . apart from a slight headache. fast asleep. pointing into the distance. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. He rose up on his hind legs. Let me know how you get on. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind.” Bella apologised. Do you believe me now.” “My paws were cold. “I told you I could do it. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. Smaller than a snow leopard. that’s what you are. “It was because it didn’t work. so far from home.” he purred. “The bear is completely under my power. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. the meerkat refused to budge.” Louis meowed throatily. I’m out of here.” Bella said. Orlov stopped suddenly. You mocked the master. It works on everyone. Poleaxed. “Yes. that is. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. “Louis the Lynx. Chins tucked in. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. On me. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. bigger than a mangy moggy.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. Bounding towards them at top speed. Bravely. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. “What’s that?” he said. I think you’re my kind of penguin. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. A black dot was coming towards them. A wild cat. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. Smirking. snoring loudly. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest.” Orlov inveigled.” She made to move on. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. at your service. still with snow under the nails. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up.” “The simples minded. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. perhaps.
were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”
“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”
Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales
They make movies about mice that speak. crows that crack jokes. advertising. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors.” Louis mused. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. Anything after. as Neolithic cave art attests. Even his chortle was charming. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. When you put it like that. Anything before B he was unbeatable. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. extermination. the bigger and nastier the better. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. .” Orlov boasted. wildlife programmes in particular. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said.” Orlov smiled. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. Lurchers. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. Louis laughed out loud. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs.territories. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. Lhasa Apsos and the like. Louis asked. moreover. so selling to them is the next natural step. I can see the campaign now. “How come you know so much about marketing. “Anthropomorphism. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. I read Wikipedia incessantly. We’re built on a bubble of belief. hope. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. “don’t knock it. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent.” “Hmmmm. not that there’s much else to admire. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. a brand in a highly competitive market. Plus. lions that sing show tunes. he was a busted flush. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. sensing a stay of Axecution. putting poor critters down. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. anyhow?” “Simples. You test the things on animals. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard.” Louis chuckled. with a grin. since Axe carries connotations of execution.” “Hey. moreover. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. A sexy smelly shampoo. Ask yourself. don’t you.” Bella quipped. But she wasn’t quick enough. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. “Correct. Orlov lit up. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. my dear boy. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. red.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. desire. adélies. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter.
With an almighty roar. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind.” The group descended into grumpy silence. He’s not best pleased. “Actually. Bella wondered. “Yes. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. though. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. Mmmmm. Louis. I wanted to rouse it. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. You tried to run off. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey.” “You suggested no such thing. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. the moraine started moving. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. she wondered. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. “it was all a mistake. perhaps. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. the Romanovs. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. Has been for years and years.” he said.” Orlov said testily. she looked around. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. His eyesight is not what it was. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. cruel culling. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. understandably. He’s been plagued for years by an annoying cartoon fox that’s trying to reclaim its own-name mints and depose the bear from its perch on top of the crystalline confectionary. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. The earth quaked. Or a meow meow overdose.” Orlov observed dryly. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. A joint venture. Bella and Louis said nothing. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. What wild accusations. Penguins pong pretty bad. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. I couldn’t shake him off. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. scratching occasionally. the hillock erupted. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. Bella felt sleepy. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. Feathers? .” Louis was at a loss. He thinks I’m the fox. Their shelter. Or Freudian psychosis. like a karaoke Krakatoa.What do they put into their toiletries. She tried to resist. Eyes drooping. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. well.
“Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. Ally of Aladdin. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. Companion to Marco Polo. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other. “Well.” “Zat I am. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent.” Orlov insisted. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. flapped them vigorously. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. “How far can you take us. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. isn’t it?” he said. “Zat is so. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights.” “Zat is impossible. “But this is BrandLand. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. Everyone knows zat. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. Hans Christian. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. “We have three wishes. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. face creams. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD.” “Take us to New Yorkie City.” Bella added. “Zat I can. Lord of ze skies. Unscented. Bella chanced her arm. none of which are tested on ze animals. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. uh. while hopping from foot to foot. He knew his Ali Baba too and. It wasn’t every day that an economy line of masculine personal care products encountered an exclusive range of fancy French feminine beauty aids and accessories.” Bristling.” Gallic to its wingtips. they might even end up where they wanted to be. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. with a smirk. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. as well as Aesop. “Zis is not BrandLand.” “So. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. it isn’t. Not only were they getting somewhere. “SoHo. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories.” the Roc crowed. Having watched the negotiations in silence. “Three wishes. s’il vous plait.” “No. with poststructuralist precision. no less. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. Zis . Flipper. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. as for Andersen. if it’s not out of your way. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra.” the creature conceded.” Louis said.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. Encouraged.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. rather. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics. “I am Roc.
“is Adarctica. Zis.” . “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. a contiguous territory.” “D’Accord. as yet untouched by civilisation. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding.” he sniffed.” Orlov commanded.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all.is a mere dominion. “We’ll make our own way from there.
Orlov. in all its magnificence. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. . as its tagline proclaimed. it flapped once or twice. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie.” Louis said. by contrast. and advertisers don’t either. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. inviting. The meerkat glared at him. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. Wings fully extended. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. lake-dappled lowland. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. Having read up on aeronautics. They dismounted shakily. with a disbelieving look. Clinging on for grim life.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. the trio was taken by the scenic route. as her mother often observed. Isabellines can’t be choosers. then invited the threesome to mount. The storm-tossed. Beckoning. he knew there was nothing to fear. Within a few minutes. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. “If it offers us a choice of seating.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. the bird-borne party was above the storm. lay spread-eagled beneath them. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. sat calmly.” “According to ancient myth and legend. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. Far from being dropped from a very great height. rising thermals. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. And then some. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. never mind jumbo jets. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. captivating. don’t travel claw class. into the eye of the snowstorm. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. aerobatics. heading north. With a low rumble of discontent. BrandLand. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. Many hours later. snow-capped mountain ranges. A driving tail wind. eventually. then took off vertically. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm.” “Yeah. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. taking in the scene.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. And we’re not talking Dumbos. Back-beating furiously.
which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. We might learn much from big biomass brands. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles.” Louis enthused. swirling. wondering which territory to try first. we might learn much along the way. Crackle.” “Can’t you count. . It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. reportedly. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino.” the Roc said disdainfully. surely. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. My contract is complete. The Roc refused to elaborate. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district. “And we’re not on vacation. then took to the air. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. One wish per passenger. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned. the stomping ground of Snap. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. directly ahead. In the far distance.An acknowledged expert in domain names. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. the local authority. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. 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. and make Mr Kipling see sense. Be veri. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone.” With that. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. We’ve only had one wish.” Conciliatory though it was. The threesome looked up expectantly. find ACME ASAP. Pop and similar elfish creatures.” it said. penguin. pronto.” Orlov. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest.” Bella snapped. We’ve two more to play with. “Steer clear of ze jungle. PDQ. “A word of advice. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. “Am I free to go. took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. Our task is to get to Madhattan. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. disconcertingly. the Lacoste crocodile. veri careful. USA.” “This isn’t a theme park. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man.” the big bird boomed. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator.
though. larch and juniper. making a vast grassy corral. The air was noticeably warmer here. Jingles rather. joined the others on their high country hike.” Bella muttered. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony.“The nerve of it. Louis scampered after her. tussock-strewn. stream-silvered dell lay below her. after being frozen in flight. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. Each accused the other of ignorance. Orlov. plaidshirted. . “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. “Only the crumbliest.” A row erupted. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country.” “Cardboard cut-outs. Dangerous though it was. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. Not designed for yomping through pastureland.” the meerkat said. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. Perplexed. She badly needed a breather. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. Especially for a penguin. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. arrogance and absence of brand sense. Bella stumbled on several occasions. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. steaming waterfalls. Bella left them to it. birch-fringed. “A Mars a day”. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. you twat. That’s what Paris once told me. a frisky Ferrari broke free. Bella recognised some of the tunes. she was too astounded to rest. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. “I may be mistaken. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. But when she crested the rise. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. A blissful. flakiest chocolate”. Every so often. “Hands that do dishes”. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. the My Little Pony palominos. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. And that’s her smiling flock. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. cedar. like an Alpine Shangri-la. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. interspersed with red-berried rowans. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places.
a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. let alone love. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. “Don’t worry. sonorous and compelling. where the village people would point them in the right direction. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. Welcome to God’s own country. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. The legend introduced his pardner. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. The advertising icon was bemused. no siree. Big Flavour. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. Big Brand Equity. the wide. not when there’s a lariat to hand. Even Orlov. Apart from an occasional wheeze. tilted back his hat and grinned. “Village people?” Louis echoed. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. Generously. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. they’re not axe-murderers. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. It bespoke Big Country. Much as the trio loved the mountains. as were her awe-struck associates. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. “Mr Marlboro. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. Big Satisfaction. Big Emphysema.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. Agog. He had heard of ACME. where men are men. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. There was no need to explain. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. was impressed. Bella was buying. The bad folks don’t call me at all. son. Whatever he was selling. but paid city slickers no heed.She signalled for the others to join her. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. with only cows and cowpokes for company. The good folks around here call me Duke. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. I presume. of course. “At your service. with an anxious expression. Duke’s voice was deep. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range.” . the bracing air. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid.” The older cowboy. ma’am. wide west. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. Big Sky. Bella opted for a formal greeting. an urban cess pit was their priority.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation. never will. of all things.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. on account of the filter tip. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. as did the manicured fields. And as for “In the Navy”. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. might be more than even he could handle. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. After a fraught brainstorming session. “Yes. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. plus several infuriating false starts.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm.” Orlov stage whispered. But the tat was an accident. A camp camp containing red Indians. traffic cops. Modest to a fault. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. As the party progressed down dale. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. As things stood. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. “Though if anyone asks. Louis might have agreed with the rodent. 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. “Never had. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. of all things. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. If they started up “Macho Man”. the cowboy archetype was adopted. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. The rest is history. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame.” In ordinary circumstances. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. round rivulet and through thicket. he’d join in the chorus. the Bon Ami chicken.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. It was originally targeted at female smokers. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. Marlboro Country was invented and.
but Orlov wasn’t convinced. garden hoses. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. Then. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. A pretty parish church. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. abandoning lawnmowers. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. Coors Country and their high. Swan matches and . Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. the Bull Durham bull. Ar-har.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. redundantly. it added. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. overhanging eves. the everenergetic Red Bull. which looked the worse for wear. However.” Louis observed. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. saloon bars. to Louis’s annoyance. watering cans.” Bella sighed. mounting up.. where Aflac ducks. pruning shears. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. wished them well in their quest for ACME. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. garden path. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché.. though the salty sea dog was so sozzled on his own brand dark rum that they couldn’t get a sensible word out of him. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. “Wonder what’s eating them. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. Smelt of chewing tobacco. Hamlet half a mile. “What a guy. the Bisto gravy family. as the company advanced into Hamlet. arhar. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. with the Kid by his side. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground.” Bella said wryly.the Anchor butter cows. He had a peri-peri in every port. a time-worn market cross. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. it said. edge trimmers. wide and handsome cognates. “Hmmph. He glared at his feline acquaintance.
Each was armed with a blunt instrument. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. All were empty. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. wearing blue overalls. a firkin of gassy French lager. I’d recognise you anywhere.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. that were a long time ago. “You must be Gaffer. Nothing. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. “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.” she went on.” she continued. “are Sydney. my good fellow. they followed him into the homely hostelry. however. Clarence. The leader. The place was deserted. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. a hogshead of mead. “And you. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family.” she concluded triumphantly.” Bashful as ever. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. Penguins and Tetley go way back. Or gassy lager. slippers! – stood between them and the door. or whatever it is they do down there.” “Aye. granite inglenook. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. Undaunted. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern.” Bella said. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. stepped forward. “And you must be Maurice. brass-banded pumps. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. old chap. lad. if there’s naught else on tap. Still nothing. lass. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. “We’ve b-b-been…” . the consummate cuppa-maker. mine host. simple Sydney smiled shyly. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. polished horse brasses. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. one with a sharp carving knife. The usual array of barroom grotesques. You look fantastic. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. as sheepish grins started to appear. quacked and chirruped incontinently. a peppery little man with a self-important air. They waited for a few minutes. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand.” The tea folk tittered. Or best bitter. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. “You’re Gordon. Archie. was unsettlingly absent. “We prefer to work with Clubs.” the curmudgeon grunted. A line of local yokels. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust.
Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. Lipton.” Bella gulped audibly. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders. P.G. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. Assholes. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. brand animals like us. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight. lass. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. Bushells. brandishing their blunt instruments. as did Gordon with his andiron. yes. Tips is a Unilever brand. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Because P. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. Could put a word in for them. “We’ve been on holiday.G. Lyons. He met the T-birds once. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. A lot. ominously. lad – but tha triangular bag was P.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. reminding them who’s boss. Psychosis is not uncommon.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. then glared at his gang. Tips. Sydney shuffled his feet.” Gaffer spat. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain.” “That’s torn it.” . “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. Tips people. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon.” Orlov whispered. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. “Assam. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. We liked the T-birds. the T-birds. I suspect. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls.” Louis groaned. The tea folk advanced. “Tetley. But.” he growled.G.G.But he was cut off by Gaffer.G. Lever lover? Menacingly.” “Tannin poisoning. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. along with Brooke Bond. “Tbirds were P. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing.
Far from the madding firs.” Bella smiled modestly. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. a copycat called Tim Tam. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. There’s nothing to choose between them. oak. Tea’s time is up. “It was nothing. unawares. They’ve reverted to commodities. Tips.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. no.” Bella had said. heavy trees. The glory days of P.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing. deciduous trees. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. Coffee culture’s king. The air was chilly. fighting on price. They’d have to stop soon. proper trees like hornbeam.” Orlov interrupted. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. beech. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. After looking around and sniffing the air. Night was falling. you two. insidiously. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture.” “Yes. poplar. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. walnut.G. like most FMCGs. “The reason you didn’t know about it.” Louis finally said. she decided it would do for the night.” “No. elm. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. A stroke of genius. and arsehole begins with A. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. “An old trick.” Bella said. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. Tea brands are identical nowadays. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. sycamore. lime.G. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. unobtrusively. Defeated. ferret. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. these were big trees. It tasted delicious too. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone.” . “Now push off the pair of you. attempting to mediate between her warring associates.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking. fur bristling on the nape of his neck.” Orlov snarled. you can bicker without me. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot.” Louis didn’t mince his words. I’m amazed they fell for it. “Look. “It was brilliant.
She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. only to disappear when anyone came too close. scrutinising the strangers. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. Smiling. Watching the frolicking creatures.” “I’m just glad they let us go. looked over and waved affably. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. pipits. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. Immediately adjacent to the path. “Actually. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. the Glenfiddich stag. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight.” Orlov added. Swiftly followed by another. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. exhausted. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. wearing a skintight yellow dress. “Look. Louis was in his element.” Louis laughed. flitting in. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. Not this one. with an irresistible . before evaporating into the undergrowth. lay languidly beneath it. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. a fire was crackling in the glade and.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. the Nesquik bunny. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. The next day saw an early start. thanks to a babbling brook nearby.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. rotten logs. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. Crackle and Pop. In a most unladylike manner. the Trix rabbit. out and around the trees. only to find herself drifting off. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. most likely. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. the Hartford elk. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. Scania’s and Saab’s. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. the Unibank unicorn. On picking herself up for the fifth time. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. Keebler’s elves also showed up. she offered a square to Louis. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. A figure was flitting through the trees. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers.” Orlov said with atypical glee. her parents. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. but it was pleasant all the same. the Kirin dragon.Chastened. “there’s Snap. Vauxhall’s. linnets and the like. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. when something caught her eye. she surmised.” With a sigh of contentment. A singularly sultry rabbit. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. And another. the Schnuffel rabbit. They made good progress through the forest. for once. Before long. she was struck by the absence of bird song.
Daddy’s coming baby.” “Yes. She’s Circe. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. Rrrrrrrrrrr.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. Get out of my way. all growling.” The lynx laughed in his face.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. and not a little need for nourishment. I can see that.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. sniffed the air. the oldest trick in the book.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. she’s cursed. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. mainly nocturnal. my. peered around myopically. A second bear followed. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. Dark Temptation. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. This doesn’t look good. It paused for a second. However. And then some. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. Louis. as if to reset her audio receptors. they don’t actually hibernate. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. “Something smells good around here. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare.” Bella butted in. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. Together. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. “Arctophily. “Don’t fall for it. all ponderous. Quick. then a steady stream. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. all hulking. clicked his foreclaws. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. “they’re solitary creatures too.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. polecat. Rrrrrrrr. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. actually.” In normal circumstances.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. famously omnivorous creatures. since you ask. Bella. Well. they roused Louis who woke . “Quick. However. An unearthly hush descended. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns.” she said.” Orlov hissed. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. “My. Must hide. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. which was still rustling. trying not to breathe. tongue hanging out. no. then a fourth. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. Bella bided her time. Bravely. A for Argonauts. “No. sotto voce.” she smouldered. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. “Let me guess. “Aeaea. Quick. then shuffled on. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. sensing Bella’s unease. It’s a trick. Fancy a bite. Bella followed suit. A big brown bear lumbered past. They hunched together biting their tongues. I’m doing him a favour. then a third.
Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. At least they seemed civilised about it. Smokey. brown bears. “has left the building. George. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons.with a blissful smile on his face. “Told you so. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. Big bears. Cresta lemonade bear. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. The dell. Boo Boo bear. peeping out a knothole.” his said. Larynges lubricated. small bears. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. It was worse than bear baiting. the iconic US Forest Service bear. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. a snivelling wimp at heart. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. In fact. the Hofmeister bear. Even Pudsey.” Hiding in the wounded tree. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. BearPG rifles. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. They didn’t get very far. Carried back to the ice floe. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. Only Gulliver. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. “We should be able to get away then. Pipes were smoked. “Let’s get out of here. “They’ll be asleep before long. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. The fat bastard. the easyJet bear. . Gulliver. “The bear. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu.” Pooh simpered. He died with his Wellington boots on. Bundaberg rum bear. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. Labatt’s blue bear. Appallingly. Charmin paper towels bear. whose charitable work is second to none. firing indiscriminately. Hamm’s beer bear. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. Bearzookas. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw.” Orlov murmured. SuperTed was also in attendance. as were Pudsey bear. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. meanwhile. Yogi bear. before a head shot finished him off. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. the bears burst into song. inevitably. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. begged on his knees for mercy. was filling up with bears. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. friendly bears. fierce bears. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. Paddington was a sitting duck. cans included. Biffo the bear. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. SuperTed. the biggest jambearee. black bears. the easyJet bear.” hers replied. wasn’t spared by the assassins. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Paddington bear. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. The massacre was relentless.
. There was no sign of Winnie. The dirty deed was done. Supported by Charmin and Cresta. In so doing. They raised their weapons as one. he sealed the fate of his comrades. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell.showed any sense of self-preservation. A second troop of baby-faced. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees.
Frantically. stealthily. That’s the frightening thing.” “Okay. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. A chill was in the air. Hallmark’s main rival.” Louis answered dully. Bloodstains.” They knew she was right. the better.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. Great mark-ups. steadily. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. Working together. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. paw-prints. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. listening intently for any indication of military activity. We talked joint ventures with them all. you see. But drew a blank. Very profitable business. “Greeting cards. “There’s nothing we can do here. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. you say?” “Yes. Night was falling.” Louis groaned. Suddenly. A Lynx card range made sense.” Louis wept. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. Me-to-You they’re called. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. most with decades of distinguished service. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. such was the bloodletting. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. They pushed on slowly. . man” before breathing his last. On returning to the path several hours later. if only to work out what they were up against. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. Cautiously. “We talked about a co-branding deal once.” Orlov ordered.” “Explain. tears streaming down his ashen face. sensible as ever. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. “Greeting cards. “I know who did this. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. It doesn’t bear thinking about. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. frozen in its death throes. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. failing to focus on the salient facts. jolted out of his rambling account. Led by Tatty Teddy.” Orlov said calmly. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots.” Bella said. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. They kept going. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. Heavy shadows fell across the path. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. the baby-faced ones. the trio forged ahead.
There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. “That’s no phantasm. Second Life players. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy.” Orlov answered with equanimity. bath salts and what have you. Orlov laughed. We have nothing to worry about.” “Looks pretty scary to me. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. They searched for shelter. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. sat a glowering gothic castle. cold and cutting.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. Never the best of hikers. familiars.” Bella was incredulous. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. slipping and sliding and slithering. above the sodden forest floor.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. “Think about it. 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. Surely some of them are still with us. full and ominous. Thousands of critters have been created since. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. “Potentially big market for personal care products.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. “I know what they are. deodorant. they opted for the latter. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. High on a crag. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. never mind feline chat-up lines. no. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. they made reasonable progress. I don’t like the look of them. “I think I know what this place is. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. The path soon turned into a slough. Invizimals. Country Story. They struggled along.” . since her body wasn’t built for trekking. At night. if anything – just that fetches. Until the rain arrived. They’re avatars. with witching hour approaching. Eyepet.” he said. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. The first brand character dates from 1877. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. It’s simples.” Louis said. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. They’re nothing to be afraid of. teeth chattering. Most have been axed ruthlessly. Bella was exhausted before long. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life.” Louis said.” Louis said.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. Pet Society. They’re breakfast cereal characters. But shelter found them. according to recent news reports. often in the prime of life. They’re called Furries. which stopped them in their tracks.
He must have betrayed his companions earlier. Bella was too tired to care. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. wondering what he was waiting for. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. Bizarrely. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. “Mummy. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. swords and stuffed animal heads. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. Be careful what you say. lined with oil paintings. nor were Piglet. Are you thinking of using her as bait for the undead cocoasucker? Or have you got a garlic-flavoured body spray that’ll give her some protection from the beast?” Drained. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. Tigger. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. spread out on a table before him. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. Mr Lynx. though. lances. mead and beeswax markets. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. was positively cadaverous. “I’m waiting. “Mummy. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. . however. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. We didn’t see anything. “Tell them about the honey bunny. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. It’s Mummy. After licking his lips with relish. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. as the drawbridge fell. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. Eyes rolling like lottery balls.” Louis ventured. By then it was too late to retreat. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. Mummy”. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. Bagheera. head tilted back.Orlov was not convinced. much less amused.” it shrieked. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. the portcullis rose. His cavernous smile.” the creature rasped. The travellers looked at each other. She had second thoughts. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. But not the once and future Honey Monster. always on the creepy side of welcoming. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. The latter included Dumbo. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. He looked enormously pleased with himself. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. shields.
His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. Walls have ears. we’re history. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. so too slogans calm the savage brand. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. “Or he’ll overhear us. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. as the reality of their situation hit home.” Orlov said. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. “There’s no honey in Penguins. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. Let’s keep it that way. Just as music calms the savage breast. mummy!” they shouted in unison.” she murmured. Otherwise. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. it was the least he could do. Apparently. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest.” “We’re doomed. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan.” “Lucky for us. psychological or otherwise. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. So it proved on this occasion. he showed the threesome around his stately home. like himself. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . we’ll never get to ACME. after breakfast. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies.Shaken to the core. As if by magic.” She looked at Orlov coldly. “It’s simples.” Orlov hissed. As every brand manager knows. Doom was unaccountably delayed. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. hence the bee laboratories. The next morning. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter.” Bella gloomed. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. He doesn’t know what we know. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. “Tell them about the honey.” Louis chipped in. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community.” “Keep your voices down.” Bella was not amused. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. pausing to point out the bee laboratory. “All together now.
. “Not that kind of pooh. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting.” the Honey Monster said.Character Mediation Enterprise. “I thought honey was a natural laxative. without smiling. innocently.” Orlov observed.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. All of a sudden. golden. the brand band exchanged wary glances. fences. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. long. Increasingly alarmed.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. 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. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. strapped them in securely and. “Don’t be afraid. saplings. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. though. where it charged between the trees. railings. stood before them wagging its tail. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. They should buy us some time. while straining on its leash. There was no sign of Cerberus. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. offering little by way of illumination. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. rivulets. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. bounding over fallen logs. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. raising its paws and barking excitedly. It was replaced by frantic barking. Peanuts. air-conditioned cabin. circling steeply upwards. giving way to the rich arable farmland . He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. A gigantic silver Greyhound. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. sleek and in perfect physical condition. tree stumps. gratifying. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction.” Legend the unicorn announced. Luckily. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. Bella. dodging. A perfect day was in prospect. What there was.” Orlov reassured his companions. glorious. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. leaping. was pretty impressive. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. The growling stopped. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually.
” Louis said casually. Pet Shop Boys. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). Sheryl Crow. infuriated by his insensitivity. “ACME is top of our agenda. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned.” Orlov added. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. An open air charity concert.” Bella noted. Eventually.” Squelched. bunny hop. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. Wolfmother. Orlov snorted. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. Then we can foxtrot. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. Followed by Flat Eric. Louis sulked. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. The line up included Gorillaz. their mode of conveyance was. Wild Beasts. better yet.” Bella gasped. “Business first. 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. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. pleasure later. Fleet Foxes. FAO Schwarz. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Before long. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. before dashing off again in the direction it came. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. . the Natural History Museum. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. if not quite the bees’ knees. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly.” “Maybe we should check it out. Seven minutes later. Literally. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. the new Eagles. Scorpions. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Doves. Glinting on the horizon. Snoop Dogg. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. Market leader in Britain he may have been. Noah and the Whale. Central Park Zoo. Bat for Lashes. Seal. “I thought they’d broken up. rubbing salt into the wound. As ever. “Must be a homing greyhound. Danger Mouse. pointing at the billboard. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. Mastodon. Whitesnake. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. amongst many others. Grizzly Bear.
Horribly disfigured. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. Squeeze This. druggies. yakking. Mutant maybe. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. 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. I’m sorry. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. A chill wind whistled in from the east. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. squalid. as they advanced towards Timex Square. devoid of hope and authenticity. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. Aleksandr. just like you said. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. as if a performance was about to begin. perhaps. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. in as cutting a way as he could manage. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. shoving.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted.” . Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. though. “I think I know what’s happening here. The human world is a horrible place. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. security guards. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. caught in the inter-building eddies. “The real world is breaking through. panhandlers. they go. Forty-second Street was equally empty. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. That’s what I think. “But surely. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. while stuffing their faces with fast food. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. If we go. dirty. Oh. indicated that the place was operational. hookers. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. was nowhere to be seen. Marketing gives it meaning.” he said. yelling at one another. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. Surely everyone knows that. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. many of which strobed intermittently.” Bella said. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. buskers. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. animal brands especially. But survivors all the same. you never got as far as B.” “Why are there no humans. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks.
Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. Then another. it went on. off. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off.” “Gotcha. spend. Another followed. it added. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. unwelcoming place.” Louis said.” Louis gasped. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square.” Orlov took off.com critter. Monkey from Sky TV. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron. 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. Timex Square was an empty.” Bella groaned. off. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. lynx and meerkat in their midst. . horse-mounted traffic cops. “Well. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. then get the Dell out of here. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. spend. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated.” Orlov exclaimed. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. it stated. Skittles’ shuffling tube sock and something that looked suspiciously like Flat Eric – which squeaked in panic and ran hither and yon like Foster Imposter chickens of the headless variety. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. Luckily. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. “Holy Doughboy. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. Led by Cheeka. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. “Well. an irresistible urge to spend. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. “Bloody Hellman’s. the Dulux sheepdog. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. stunned by the update. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone.
Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. flapping idly in the breeze. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. They stood snout to snout. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. eyes locked. “Calm down.” Orlov was fit to be tied. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. followed by “Louis. start. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. breathing heavily. I thought you’d been here before” strop.” . Orlov backed down. We don’t have much time. “No signal. “Let me handle this. The meerkat glared at them both. stand up. look left. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. Scampering ahead in his stop. Even in Madhattan. ferret. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. no doubt.” Infuriated. 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. drop down. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. Having stared the meerkat out. getting more infuriated by the second. Bella looked at Louis. ready for fisticuffs. “What’s the address? Quick. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. “For your information.” he said curtly. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. look right. “Wait for us.” Louis snapped. Quick. Louis looked down at him.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. look round again manner. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle.” Impatient as always. Louis turned to Bella. Smirking. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. The fashion week tents were still standing. while they were in mortal danger. But Louis cut him off. It was a brand free zone. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. Patrolling down 42nd Street. Growling. Fox Head’s eponymous renard.
Rrrrrrrrr. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. research. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here.” The meerkat was off like a shot. down-sizing. Adidas. believe me. The Young and Rubicund building. Monkey. The stress of the quest. “It doesn’t say. She was sure of it. The building was just a couple of blocks away.” Bella moaned. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. “Look. “Just get Google.” “Read that in Wikipedia. did you?” Bella shouted.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. Something or someone was watching them. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. “Let him go. Critters he called them. 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. It was her imagination. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. feeling edgier by the second. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . “I don’t believe it. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. Panther. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged.” Bella had no time for legends. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. Once production goes. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west.” He switched off his iPaw. Camel. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage.” Louis sighed. in a downtown direction. He’s barking up the wrong office block. originality disappears. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. Nothing.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her. He’d clicked through from Google Street View. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. officiating bodies like ACME. Racoon. creativity evaporates. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. design. innovation follows. Louis held her back. not to say incredulity.” The connection took forever. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. will you. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. publicity.” “What?” Bella retorted. “designed to justify cost cutting. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. As included. Bella made to follow. “World Wide Webster. He was a Panther man himself. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. “It’s number 285. the brains behind the Smash Martians. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster.
” Louis said laconically. stiff and straining in the breeze. A conspiracy theory. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. Bella refused to take the bet. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. Arm & Hammer toothpaste.” Louis let her vent. Orlov missed the sarcasm. The curt note on the door. With a heave.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. The locked ACME offices. The big city was distorting his thinking. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. Yes. hot. brand mascots. “We know. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. their Old Glories unfurled. jingles. let alone embarrassed. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. He had a theory. Exactly. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. Aleksandr. Chuckling. Hard sellers hate whimsy. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. They especially hate cute critters.us the journey. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. extremely agitated. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. only with account managers and art directors. “Yes. There was no brand war. bothered. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. The wreckage all around. as did his equally dumbfounded . advertising characters. Fearing another tantrum. subtlety. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. The vacated Y&R floors. Startled. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory.” Louis yawned. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. It too was devoid of life. a bit like The Sopranos. a strop and sulk situation. They passed a Starbucks. arm in arm. though that may have been the art directors’ department. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. all disconcertingly empty. A couple of minutes later. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. isabellines especially. they strolled down to 285. he looked around. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. The whole place was completely empty. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. “Corleone the copywriter. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. no winners or losers.” Far from being crestfallen. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. mouth agape. reason-why. Although they look laid back.” “Oh. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. Nodding enthusiastically. the Russian emerged from the elevator.
The door burst open.” he added. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. the former sliding on the marble. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention.companions. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. Thump. Caught betwixt and between.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been.” Louis yelled. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. jumping to his feet. thump. the latter sprinting on all fours. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. . The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. The alarm alerted the undead. the three of them backed up several paces. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. A crack appeared in the pane. Nada. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. thump. thump. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. then another. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. thump. “lock the revolving door. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. “Lucky I checked out the building. They spilled into the street. the zombie was momentarily confused. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage.” Bella urged.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. An earsplitting alarm went off. Nothing. Eyes glassy and unseeing. Then a third.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. Almost. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. Thump. however. Frantic. then another. Bella and Louis did likewise. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. They picked themselves up. thump. “Quick. Arms outstretched. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. He pushed again. round. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Without pausing to dust themselves down. out. Glancing round as he ran. It was locked. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. Its catatonic associates followed suit. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. thump. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. then charged at the barrier together. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. Then a fourth. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. It suddenly shattered. There was no time to lose. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. 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. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. like a fire tender on emergency call. Louis lost the head.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. and pushed on the side door. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. the trio dashed up East 40th Street.
This way. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. where they paused to catch their collective breath. “No. with an unrepeatable oath. They’re milkshakes.” Bella said. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown.” Orlov said to himself. “Let’s stand and fight. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue.” He galloped up Park Avenue. no. No surrender. in the direction of Brand Central Station. “We’re trapped. This way. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. They’re softies. Bella. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. They’re wusses. “I think there’s a food court in that place. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish.But the quarry was too quick for them. 40th . With no realistic alternative.
those McTofus are really something. The Ronalds were coming from downtown.” she added. looking anxiously behind them. gasping for breath. by way of explanation. “A good brand is hard to find. “How can you be so sure?” . But my sprinting’s not so good.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. “That’s where Flat Eric lives. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space.” Bella deadpanned. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line.” Wiping her eyes.” Unabashed. albeit with difficulty.” Suppressing a smile. grinning. “But downtown’s not a good move. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. right Louis?” “Right. “Never meet your heroes.” Louis laughed. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota.” Louis continued.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. “Yes. “I’m starving after all that exercise. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. “Stitch. As Bella.” he commiserated. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days. “Different muscle groups.” “Yes. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter.” The meerkat cracked up. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. No bother. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. you know.” Orlov empathised. “Lynxes excepted. which ordinarily copes with 150.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. 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. But none of them are McDonald’s. Giggling.” Orlov said. “Don’t bet on it.” he conceded. “I can swim for hours. Too worked up to worry. holding her side. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble.000 passengers per day. He won’t be there anyway.” Orlov said. Rrrrrrrr.” Bella panted. “Okay guys. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. face contorted in agony. “I think we’ve lost them. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains. Sniggering to start. winking at the other half of his double act. the lynx tried to sympathise.
was made for them. He looked around in that ever-wary way. Then Orlov followed suit. though. We should be safe there. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. the moment of light relief forgotten.” “Decisions. Things’ll be clearer then. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. decisions. Boiling sun. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella.” he said. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. It’s relocated to India. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. exhaustion soon caught up with them. trying to make the peace. “I’m heading for SoHo. We need to make our way to JWT Airport.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. 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. “We’ve had a very trying day. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. “ACME’s our priority. ACME. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. “We must have missed our stop. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. swivelling his head this way and that. peeping outside. And tasted like it too. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. Aleksandr. Have you?” The decision. Inside a greenhouse. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. decisions. Louis?” “It’s getting late. Bella’s obsession with ACME. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. “Coming with me. If not quite melting. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. Inside a smelting plant. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. as he pressed his face against the window. “If that’s where we decide to go. as they tried to get their bearings. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. The place felt like an oven. Settled in their seats. On Mercury.” She looked from one drained friend to the other.” Louis croaked.” Louis sighed. because there’s no public transportation. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. she shook her still-slumbering companions. It’s well uptown. Hot sun. the one that does international flights. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. “Looks like Coney Island. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction. until he too failed the sleepy-time test.” Bella said.” The meerkat hesitated.” . just as the doors were closing.” the lynx said. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage.” Understandably perhaps. Bella awoke with a start. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. ACME. as it happened. “All of which are moot.
Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. piled upon dune. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. was a poseur. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. an imposter.” Too parched to say anything. top-hatted. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats.” Orlov rasped. Except that they weren’t flies. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. Unselfconsciously. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. like eco- . Botanic Gardens too. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. the monocled. It was hotter outside than in. when brand icons were dapper men about town. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. Mercifully. Far Away. boys. The door hissed open. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. most of which were counterfeit. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. dune piled upon dune. not only looked inviting. twisting and turning. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. ghost trains and roller coasters. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. Gasping for a drink. We’ll be safe among the carousels. The heat was fearsome.” Bella struggled to speak. in short. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. The barflies hung on his every word. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. Whatever their phylum. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing.“Not a problem. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. flat-roofed and ogee arched. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. The Birds Custard bluebird. Mine host. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. Much as he loved dry heat. Bertie Bassett. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. Gathering their wits. Grill and Waterhole. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. beckoned from the other. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. Bella stood in the doorway. Bella wished she was far. a fraud. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. far away. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. as best they could. Welcome to Mirage. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. be gone. held court behind the bar. it said. and how Mr Peanut. Self-respect be damned.” Orlov remarked. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. Onlookers. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern.
consisting of Wild Turkey. Louis didn’t . The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. Louis.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. Howlin Wolf. Lapsed. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. the lusty lummox. Bella and Louis supped up. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. the proper name for the peanut family. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. just as the stork’s set was finishing. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. Famous Grouse. Grey Goose. Orlov persisted. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. Unconcerned. followed by “Wild Thing”. Panicking. was in seventh heaven. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. “This is the last brand saloon. Horse Feathers. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. All axed by their advertising agencies. spokespenguins held to ransom. Brusquely. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. Meanwhile. The Animals. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. We’ve got to get out of here. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. History. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. Smirking.” “Right. No sign of Owl City. the audience roared. “Chicken feed. for eucalyptus. nor did he want to know right now. Monkey Business and more. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. A poultry matter.” “It’s mambo. Louis was collared by the meerkat. The Beatles. much to his annoyance. The Monkees. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. We’re in Brandablanca. No matter. Adam and the Ants.” Undeterred. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. Meerkat mambo. let alone an LAX. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. he didn’t give a 4X.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. spokescreatures sold into bondage.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. The lynx hadn’t. Orlov didn’t join in. A hen party. “Hound Dog”. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. a sure-fire floor filler. Dropped. never mind “Fireflies”.
while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. then. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. He made his way to the restrooms.” the abstemious meerkat said.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. No sign of her there. There was no sign of Bella. However. trying to get to Hamlet. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries.” “Let’s get going. deep in thought. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there. Releasing his grip. having a cigarette. Orlov gave up on the lynx.” “Don’t tell me.” “Exactly. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. They’re in transit.” Bella nodded. It wasn’t so funny the second time.” . Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. the CEO is. Bella was outside. I need something to calm me down.want to know. a Happy Meal. “What’s up.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. doc?” Bella forced a smile. then. He’s on his death bed. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.” “Excellent. standing in the shade.” “I don’t. He slipped into the backstage area.” she said. apparently. “Okay. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. though never rising above ill-at-ease. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. either. trying to hide his relief. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. “I didn’t know you smoked.
Part V Just Deserts .
he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. spices. a stylised scarab in a circle. Ali Burberry. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. The meerkat was much less impressed. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. He Dead Decision made. Ali Brioni. “He’ll be there when we get back. Reluctantly. They shoved him aside. Unconcerned. The lynx didn’t care. He didn’t want to know. Talking all the while. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. He introduced himself as Mustapha.” Bella promised. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. carvings. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. Louis wasn’t in the same league. They explained the situation to him again. sweetmeats. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. fashion designer to the stars. As a feline of sorts. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. he refused to let go. shouting over the music. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. they returned to the bar. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. was also quite striking. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. Ali Balenciaga.” Bella wasn’t reassured. Ali Boden. Irate. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. Ali Bally. So they left him to it. “I’ll be back. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. Bella was impressed. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. They explained the situation to him. Orlov made for the door. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. He still didn’t want to know. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. more emphatically than before. carpets. He paused to get his bearings. “Do you think he’ll be all right.” Bella asked anxiously.” Orlov answered. A mere man. awimoway. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. Awimoway. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. Louis was on the dancefloor. Mustapha cut his prices even more. laying out his wares as he talked. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. Ali Bottega Veneta.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. Pelican and Penguin. despite her desire to depart. awimoway. His logo. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies.
they’re hot. nostrils flared. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. Still no sign of a subway. The old lungs weren’t what they were. Only a palm-fringed oasis. good-for-nothing. Scorpion armoured vehicles. looking down on all he surveyed. Puma helicopters. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. He offered one to Orlov. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. . Careless squawk costs lives. They were worrying animal omens. up dune. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. “Whoops. through tamarisk thickets. hoping to bond with the brute. “So much for kat-nav. very.” Bella said beneath her breath. Eventually. down dune. indifferent to everyone around him. It was Joe Camel himself. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular.” he decided. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. plus provisions for their journey. Orlov offered him a Lark. very bad idea. grumbling and griping all the while. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. 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. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. But business was business. Must be the other way. they’re a delight. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. There was no sign of the subway station. Even in the searing heat of the desert. eyelids narrowed. Unwisely. The shit of the desert set off. Orlov accepted. Way too hot to argue. good fun. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. Joe was undeniably cool. Breath like a brazier. Brands come. Bella decided. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. “This way. A dung beetle barred their way. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. past thorn-bush. Mr Midden said that was a very. head aloft. Instead. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. after much pushing and shoving. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. blowing smoke rings. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. This way was the wrong way. Harrier jets. Orlov didn’t. brands go. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. Bella waved back.” He plunged back into the casbah and. populated by belching braying camels.merchants. Joe called a halt. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. dragging deeply. emerged on the other side. as a peacemaker.” Orlov apologised. She told the beetle of their intentions. stood between them and the same sand sea. “sorry about that. they’re not. He looked supercool too – haughty. detached. a disgrace. he explained with a bronchial cough.
You know how it is. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. Sobbing uncontrollably. speaking slowly. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. Momentarily inattentive. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. Aleksandr. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. after all. style’s forever. She could taste him. to put it mildly. his sang-froid abandoned.” He indicated with his hoof. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them.bad influence.” “That’s true. having finally found gainful employment. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. “…brand characters talk. Bella nodded appreciatively. “I can carry you the rest of the way.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. I’m going to see it through. tennis courts. Whatever. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. they clambered up the dusty gulch. Supporting each other. . Amazed. “Take care of Louis for me.” she shouted over her shoulder. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. I’m an icon. Bella hobbled on.” Bella replied brusquely. who once bestrode BrandLand. “It’s just over that rise. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. earnestly. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. I’ve heard things. She waddled up the wadi. dead daddy. Rumours. It was all too much. undecided.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw.” “Ciao. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. Don’t lose hope. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. Customers are fickle. Joe shrugged. having decided what to do. a benison.” Orlov murmured. Sorry. Bella. Mr Kipling was near now. Fashion changes. if you want. “I’ve come this far. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. This is as far as I go.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. causing a mini landslide. Don’t pander. dead best friend. “Looks innocent enough.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. smiling. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. Aleksandr. she wept for her dead mummy. Five minutes later. or something similar. a tropical island in a sea of sand. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. bad as in good. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. You can go back if you want to. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. Stay true to yourself. “What rumours?” The camel explained. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. “Your funeral. It was a refuge. which rolled back down the ravine. The Maytag repair man. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert.
Orlov tried to get through to it. increasing market share. Betty herself had seen better days. assorted Scottish Widows. as they were ushered into her office. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. the convenience stores and the community centre. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. Bow-wow.” Betty said. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. Nicole and Papa. look. woof. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked.R. woof. Grrrr. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. smiling benignly. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. “I think you’ll be impressed. the golf course. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. taking in the gymnasium. “Look. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. the coffee shops. “Woof. Crazy Eddie. Nipper responded eagerly. The mute mutt kept mum. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. which offered a variety of time-filling activities.” Without further ado. Woof. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. Joe Isuzu.” Orlov cried. plump cushions. Beattie and Buzby. Yap.“Welcome to paradise. “Would you like to look around?” she said. thick carpets. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. Frankie and Louie. They peeked into the communal sitting room. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. However. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. regretfully. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. Hartley. who’d seen better days. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. Aunt Jemima. sitting in a circle of silence. the Tango man. explaining the rationale for their operation. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. the Coppertone girl. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. Frito Bandito. the arts and crafts studios. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. woof. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. rising from her sofa.” . their raping. On a whim.” Orlov replied. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. as orange as ever. It was filled with immortal brand icons. the forgotten British Telecom titans. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. Ruff. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. Howard Brown. Clippit. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. But she was friendly enough. Bow-wow. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel.
Right now. They were there for the duration. Kipling’s a come-on. He’s not here. They’d walked into a trap. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. .cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that.. Get out.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere. Smiling benevolently. Thinking quickly. Their accommodation was waiting for them. Crocker’s a…c. Never was.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger.
Lynxes were lithe. mercilessly. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. Chirpy. followed by “Chirpy. Dawn would be up and about before long. the lynx tried to get his bearings. He looked around. Groaning. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. “lie still”. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. However. Can’t be too careful. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. frankly. With a sudden shudder of horror.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. which tightened inexorably. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. “don’t move”. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. Cheep”. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. he remembered several more moments of madness.” The pain was excruciating. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. given the free floorshow Louis provided. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity.” The torture wouldn’t stop.” The agony was unrelenting. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. as are bladders full to bursting. . the mortification or the migraine. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. but there was a limit. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Head splitting. followed by “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” followed by…Louis felt a wave of shame wash over his shattered body…”Three Little Fishies”. He was lying on a small camp bed. Louis sat up with a start. Better not. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. though they only had to ask. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. He was in a storeroom of some kind. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. youza. It was the least the bar owner could do. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. feeling queasy. well. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. Then things got a bit hazy. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. Louis had never had a hangover like it. He flopped back down again. though he wasn’t as young as he was. youza. Red Robin”. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. 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. “Oooooohhhhh. “Noooooooooo. Cheep.
you son of a bitch. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. It was sweet. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. “Avoid the Noid. He paused. eyes fixed on the smart phone. grabbing hold with both hands. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. He reached for his iPaw. Anxiety mounting. head thumping. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. He shouted for assistance. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. peered through the iron bars. There was no sign of a cell phone. Ooohhh yeaaah. Presumably. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. briskly. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. trying to place the aroma. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. His red-suited. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. Only the minarets showed signs of life. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. fiddling with an iPaw. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. He unlocked the door. which flapped to and fro in his wake. “Christ. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. with a view to ringing the bar. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. He sniffed. waited for the palpitations to pass. Louis’s iPaw.” There was movement. then tried again. Louis needed all the help he could get.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. rabbiteared guard remained silent. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. Louis angled his face on the bars. liquorice-like. Livid. holding it in. albeit not on account of the nausea.” he shouted. sugary. Louis played it cool. And a figure sitting silently at the end. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. Louis looked up. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window.” he called out.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. Sobriety took hold. Mr Bassett. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. He banged on the door. the shakes. “I’m talking to you. before disappearing through a swinging access door. Suddenly. kicking the door and shaking the bars. His iPaw was missing. “I’m talking to you. If not Bertie himself. He squeezed his face against the bars and. Apart from the sacks of snacks. hoping to attract someone’s attention. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. “I’ve been expecting you.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . shoved it open with difficulty. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. dying for a drink. A call to prayer was imminent. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away.
Instead. He kept his cool instead. an escape route for persecuted brands. not even “My name is Bassett. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered.” There was no time to lose. the liquorice magnate said nothing. Louis refused to be drawn. “Maybe. Well. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. They never come back. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. buy-or-die issues. some parts of them come back. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders. in response to the ridiculous death threat. some of them come back or. hangover overcome by willpower alone. Unilever boy?” He stood up. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic. Bertie Bassett”. It might already be too late. he realised that something wasn’t right.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel. And today’s the day when your number’s up.” “That’s what we want them to believe. and suchlike.” “I’m not with you.” he said. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. should I say. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. “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. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. Mr Lynx. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. He had to get moving right away. Mr Lynx.” . “That’s a bit melodramatic. Here’s lookin’ at you.” he said. nodding toward the barrels once more. Bassett or no Bassett. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. Have you forgotten your training. “They come from that. We represent the end of beautiful friendships.” “I see. Nonchalant yet nasty. kid.” Bassett smiled. “But why. round up the usual suspects.” he said. continuing to play it cool.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. Bertie. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening.” Louis countered. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. rising energetically from his camp bed. We make dramas out of crises. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. “Your days are numbered.
Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. He should have known better than to tempt fate. Anything to make the memory go away. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. he sensed that Bassett was serious. He soon would.Ordinarily. . However. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. Although he was still alive. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather.
where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. The accommodation was superb. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. No soft soap. Bella could see the attraction of the place. The food. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. Bella was kicking herself. The recreational facilities were wonderful. There was no perimeter fence. were a bit like piggy banks. as Nipper made clear. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. Tom Tomato. clearly. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. Brands. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. never mind a sickening stench. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. Mr Soybean. part of the brand trafficking operation. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. something strange was going on. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. no matter how outmoded. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. No hard sell. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. neither electrified nor chain link. Bella well knew. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. with watchtowers and guards. Bella could understand why any brand icon. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. Every brand icon. its equity was still there. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. no matter how venerable. much less the physiology. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. As a consequence. But. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . Far from being a place where superannuated brands. Crocker’s camp. No hustle. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. as per ACME’s edict. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. The forbidden fruit trick. like Mr Kipling. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. 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. There was no unscalable wall. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. No hassle. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. She was very tempted. was a crock of marketplace gold. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. That investment kept on growing and growing and.
retching in a revolting manner. Orlov looked up. He offered her one. He didn’t look up to the challenge. Doubtless Tiger. Hundreds of sports team mascots. “It’s a bit like a civet.” Orlov gasped. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. She declined. “Orlov insisted. struggling to his feet. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. for one – but this was ridiculous. Orlov was doubled over. there’s a plume of smoke over there. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. only with incense that’s gone off. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. It was worse than she thought. He spluttered. no less. “Definitely acrylic. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. “Burning acrylic. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. only smarter. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. She was a penguin ignoramus. “Look. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. There was no escape. The aroma.” he added. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. patting him on the back. That’s where it’s coming from. Bella told him so. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite.the perimeter. Some chance. footloose and fancy free. their . The stench was stronger now. minging and malodorous. “I still can’t smell anything.” She let him splutter. Bella was beyond belief. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. Even Bella could smell it. Still. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. Orlov thought for a second. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. behind a dense stand of leylandii. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. It worked. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. a penguinoramus. then took in the nine-hole golf course. He coughed. Undeterred. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. “Acrylic. was somewhere between niffy and noisome.” Bella said. just to see the look on his face. low-rise glass building. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. “Maybe it was something you ate.” she said.” he said. Not wanting to attract undue attention.
nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. Gruesome as the big screen was. There was only one problem. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. Norwich’s Captain Canary. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen.” Bella whispered. Aberdeen’s Angus. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. a brand abattoir. they’re cuddly toys.” At a loss. targets similar work schedule metrics. let alone A Bug’s Life. Peppa the Pig was no more. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. was extinct. It was apocaplush. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. As a democrat.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. which fell away when full. nothing less than the furry solution. the questers considered their options. Samson and Delilah. quotas. the purple dinosaur. pampered.” “Yes. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. Desperate times require desperate measures.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. Portsmouth’s Frogmore. It was about to launch into . In the annals of advertising slogans. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. sadly. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz.” Raging. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. “They certainly kept that quiet. Appalled. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. It was Pegasus. Beanie Babies had been and gone. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. But Olov’s hope that the extermination process was limited to the football league was dashed when Bella drew his attention to an electronic scoreboard. As a Russian. And won the election by a landslide. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. He Gives a Monkey’s. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. From its perch above the production line.” Orlov said. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. The guard. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. Stamford the Lion. The guard was no ordinary guard. Barney. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. Bella. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. as had Go-Go Hamsters.
Bella. Orlov. She says you’re a sell out. she does. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. Just ask Tiger. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. I’m the offspring of Medusa.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. “However. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. “The Roc sends her regards. A god’s gotta graft. She says you’re dead horsemeat. preparing to shift from hover to swoop.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. We’ve still got a wish in hand. there’s only two of us.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously.” “Your wish is my command. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry.” Bella acknowledged. If so. It’s the way of the world. as you can see. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead.” “Yes. Once one sponsor departs. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. Poseidon.” Pegasus whinnied.an “how dare you”. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. BTW. the rest soon follow. that its father. remember. Orlov cut the creature off. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. However. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. Whatever. Call her. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. in case you’d forgotten. She’s full of it you know. Bella seized her chance. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. Orlov. I’m not choosy. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. Oh. Pegasus looked unimpressed. and don’t look so surprised.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. 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. “I’m calling security” spiel. I’m not proud.” . I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. I dropped Bellerophon in it. “Is that so?” “Yes. “you shouldn’t be here”.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. “I’m Julius Pringles. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing.” Louis snarled. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. The cry caught in his throat. And squeezed. You may also have heard that we get what we want. “This is my esteemed colleague. he was distracted by a cough. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. Mr Clean. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. Shaven-headed. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. They had a rope. “Let me guess. the chatterbox beetle explained. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. He could hear the door opening. They were going to pull the bars out. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. a celebrity camel. preparing to call for assistance. In Cin City. Naturally. I’m hoping it will . by fair means or foul. Bleary-eyed. he picked himself up.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. P&G shakedown. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. Intrigued. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. no one could hear brands scream. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. Get ready to run for it. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. turning defence into attack. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. The other was lean. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. At one stage. allegedly. mean and muscular.” he said. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. You may have heard of us. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. he glanced up at the Proctoids. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. A camel was outside. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. Bella sent them.
“Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. The persecutor paused. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. the pain would have been intolerable. began dragging him out of the cell. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. Is that what you’re saying.” the lynx sang tunelessly. “And grease in just a minute. Ping. This was no ordinary water. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand .” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. “Let’s find out what he knows first. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. However. It contained a chair. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. It was P&G water. Not so surprising. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. Clearly. the one that controls cross-dressing. come to think of it. Ping. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. Instinctively. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. Under normal circumstances. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. Surprisingly feminine forename. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. “You know I can’t tell you that. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. both literally and metaphorically. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. Sorry. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. Without pausing for breath. especially for a brand with a raging hangover.” Pringles ordered. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. past the Noid who’d nodded off. moreover. Louis?” Playing for time. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously.be fair. “Take it easy. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. a bucket. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. Julius. With enormous effort. Stoically. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. Mr Clean will clean your house. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. One-handedly.” Clean went crazy. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. Ping. with a butt-ripping jerk. With a bestial bellow. Veritably. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. asswipe. Ping. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. Pantene Pro-V enriched. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. a board.
“Tell us what we want to know. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. Wouldn’t they? . he tied Louis down. especially for so little reward. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. The one without the battery. Mostly. But he had miscalculated. though. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb.” Admirable though it was. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. “Recognise this?” he raged. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him.” Louis retorted. Rrrrrrr.” Clean crowed.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments.secrets. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand.” “Correct. Masochistically shaving against the grain. it was costing him a small fortune. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture.” “Glad to hear it. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. Yes. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. Even at wholesale prices. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. fraught though they had been. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. Howling with fury. which creaked and groaned from want of use. Louis. eyes glinting.” he spluttered. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. Cursing and swearing.” Muscles bulging. The ladies like it that way.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. pate glistening. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. His training kicked in. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. He had overlooked one crucially important item. “Nice lather. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. It’s common knowledge. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. You don’t owe Unilever anything. Quickly and efficiently. “I could do with a shave. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. he asked Louis to reconsider. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. though. Strangely. They’re about to abandon your brand name. It’s the best a brand can get. Make it easy on yourself.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. “Five precision blades.
gibbering wreck in no time. the American management guru. lynx? You look like the ticklish type.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner.” . “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled.” Louis gasped. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. “We blindsided you with that one. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. though.” Pringles suggested. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. Clean. he was a giggling.Clean was getting nowhere fast. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt.” Louis tried to resist.” “Cool. “Kill him. “You learn something new every day. Are you ticklish. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. But securely bound and helplessly splayed. “It doubles as a tickling stick. It was time for a change in tactics. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. By blindly following Gladwell. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent.” Pringles said. electrostatically. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. He really did. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. Cats love a tickle. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. they tell me. then turned to go. “Well. “Try the swiffer.” Pringles said. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do. I never knew that.
They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was.” Unconvinced. then high-tailed it out of Mirage.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. Far from leading Louis to his doom. bluffed the brusque beast and. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. First. We can talk to ACME. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. They were part of the plot against the plot. which was worrying for a working dromedary. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. Third. He was capitalism in microcosm. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. Not long after liftoff. Second. ethical. They weren’t part of the plot. move the merchandise. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. release the furry football prisoners. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. Reluctantly. “But see your vet anyway. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. keen to do good. Qualitywise. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. just perfect for recessionary times. cut corners. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. He was on a rescue mission. but wish three was unnecessary. He owed them three wishes.” “What about you. Your prices are competitive. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. Pegasus was basically kind. The reason rather was that. They had raised the stakes. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. He couldn’t help it. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. That little brand of yours has potential. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. when the chips were down. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations.” . All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. “It’s nothing. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. make the sale. Pretending that they hadn’t noticed the state of his kisser – though both had heard scandalous stories about promiscuous Puffin Books – Bella and Orlov forgave him. keep body and soul together. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. as gods go.” Orlov lied authoritatively.
He’d take them as far as he could. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. yet beautiful.com basin. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. he’d learned something from the Roc. they came to rest beside a small jetty. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. Although Bella didn’t like heights. as brand names go. There’s the Raid Bugs. but no further. sludgy and sluggish. though. There’s Caterpillar. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. “The objective you seek is upstream. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. But dung beetles are persona non grata. herds of wild horses. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. Evidently.” the flying horse finally announced. It was forbidding. With no realistic alternative. laid into the winged god. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. And. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. Pegasus didn’t pause. one step above slugs and snails. Forthright as ever. “Hold tight. As far as most people are concerned. half as old as time. I’m in the dingleberry business. snaking camel trains.” There was no persuading him. Pegasus was getting frisky too. with a slight cough of embarrassment. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. The beetle had a business to run. Bella. Flashes of lightning. A flurry of feathery flutters later. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. “specially designed for young children. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation.” Orlov added. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. Nobody loves us.” Louis chipped in.“I’m a dung beetle. closely-packed settlements. rolled before them. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape.” He circled and banked and glided. the brand band agreed. the threesome took off. That vessel will take you there. “Okay. there might be one or two. okay.” Pegasus snorted. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. “we’re coming in to land. soaring up and away. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. Decrepit. How dare he drop them . There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. “What’s this?” Bella asked. Not as beautiful as the jungle. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. dotted with iridescent oases. “This is as far as I go. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. A vast river.
Calvin Klein.” the captain conceded. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. modestly. you see.” With that. snapped open its wings. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. “Yes. aka Iglo.” They didn’t know how it was. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. with its connotations of edginess. “I’m called Iglo in France. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. plosives. Welcome on board. “Have a nice day. Coca-Cola. energy: X-Factor. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. brothers and sister. “I intend to. Krispy Kreme. aspirates. landlubbers. “Betty Crocker. “The B-sound’s effective too. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. The old salt nodded sagely. There wasn’t much to see: a . KFC.” “Correct. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. You don’t belong in BrandLand. Campbell’s Soup. X-Box. A flash in the pan website.” he corrected. Birdseye showed them around. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name.” Feeling a little left out. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. I don’t particularly mind.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. “I guess we better get going then. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. sibilants.” “Captain Birdseye. “Captain Iglo. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. Kit-Kat. K-X soda. Hence Kodak.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. open-faced figure.” Louis said nothing.” Orlov contributed.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. You’re a joke.” a cordial voice chortled. Earnestly. up and away. X-tra strong mints. It’s the k-sound. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye. 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. P-P-P-Penguin. X-series sports cars. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. A grey-bearded. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. “Compare the market. I presume. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. excitement. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. “I can see into the future. apparently. “Welcome to the jungle. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. 4X beer.” Bella ventured. They use my proper name in Britain. You know how it is. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. but as long as they keep the Captain part.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. You’re no loss.
“Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. The Trove of Death. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. “The Cokenoco. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. not to say faintly ludicrous. “There are three tributaries. every free gift scheme.” He handed her an old pewter cup.compact cabin. “Before you ask. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. I know treasure seekers when I see them. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. by others. It’s pretty inhospitable country. every loyalty .” Bella didn’t quite believe him. it was a plausible brand yarn and. it shouldered its way upstream. Every sales promotion. Bella. We’ve been on a long journey. Captain. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. Classic and Zero. He’d been there. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. a gimcrack forecastle. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. And was wearing it under his uniform.” Birdseye replied. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged. steering a route of least resistance. The jetty was soon behind them and. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. every lucky winner draw. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. done that.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance. “Taste it. Diet’s the least turbulent. With a barf and a bellow.” “Right.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. it’s called by some. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive.” “I wasn’t going to ask. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. every air miles offer. albeit steady as she goes. “I’ll take your word for it. lost in their own thoughts. Just. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. “So. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. stained with jolly jack tar. However. Diet. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. as if unconvinced by her reply. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander.” “I think it’s exhaustion. at the Rainforest Café syrup works.” she said. As shipshape as they’d ever be. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. Sceptical yet intrigued. Progress was slow. “The ACME Horde. Captain Birdseye cast off. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation.” He nodded. After the requisite toot of the whistle.” Eyes twinkling. bought the T-shirt.
And it’s buried in them thar hills. every collect the tokens. win a car. who sells it on. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality. privilege card redeemable premium. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings.” .card. scratch card. reward or guarantee. every money off voucher. win a house. In return for a fee. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. win a million. According to old wives’ tales. that is. win a holiday. complete the sentence. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME.
The throbbing ceased. “Must be a nightmare after a storm. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. yammering at top speed. “Instinct?” Bella asked. shoving aside the creepers and climbers.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. guys. Riboflavin. Her companions didn’t disagree.” “It’s okay. they forged forcefully ahead. Tips.” he said. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. It’s one of our special editions. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch. “I’ll wait for you. The noise was deafening. to everyone’s relief. It’s big in Brazil. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. the Exxon tiger. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. However. or had been fairly recently. as Bella. “No added sugar. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. if a trifle slippery. Niacin. She didn’t want to know. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. Screeches. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. The horror.” “I’ll say. The path was narrow but passable. It was humid.” the old boatman added. . Louis and Orlov disembarked. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. “Intuition. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. screaming the praises of P. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly.” Grinning despite herself. Guinness is good for you”. He can always swab the decks with the stuff.” the lynx intervened. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. Burning Bright The jungle closed in. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. catchphrases and suchlike. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. the MGM lion. Guinness is good for you. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. in a foot race. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. “It’s that way.Chapter Eighteen Tony. slogans. A trail of hoof. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. as the going got increasingly rutted. “The horror. 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.” it parroted. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. “I got it covered. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims.” she observed. Tony.” Orlov winked at Bella. straplines.G. “You can’t miss it. as The Diary Queen sloughed on.” Orlov murmured. Every so often. It was hot. “Calcium.
Boom. With a blood-curdling yell. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike.” Orlov whispered. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. posters.” Bella hissed. The clammy heat was. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. Boom. A second drummer joined in. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. Bella burst out laughing. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. must have carried for many. coupons. however. Emboldened. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances.” Louis was less than impressed. Unfortunately. Fast as the cobra was.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. Suddenly. Boom. If ACME’s behind this. then a third. “Let’s just watch and wait. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. Boom. as the ceremony proper commenced. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. many miles. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. easing a succulent aside. shelf-talkers. This was no ordinary ceremony. cut cases. A great shout of glee rose up . if not quite unbearable. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. Boom. decidedly unpleasant. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. “Advent. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. The drumming stopped. Chuckling. Orlov and Louis looked worried. The crowd held its breath. it didn’t last long. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. minus the vocal accompaniment. dump bins. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. Boom-boom. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. big brand in west Africa. they inched forward and. Boom-boom. brandishing a burning brand. Boom.” “Ssssshhhhh. though they weren’t the centre of attention. as well they might. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. Boom-boom. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. was scattered around the periphery.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. “Ssssssshhhhhh.listening intently from time to time. a big. the high priest of high fashion.
circled slowly searching for an opening. she started dancing. Clearly. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. as the onlookers went ape. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. Peanut paused. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. Ingeniously. the cruiserweight climax of the card. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. she encouraged the crowd to join in. Which of course it did. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. This also ended on a disappointing note. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. meanwhile. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. The response was lukewarm. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. Bella concluded that Louis was right. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. Booing derisively. Miss Banana. Luckily. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. pretending it had steamed up. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. The drums started up again. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. The polar bear burst asunder.from one group of onlookers. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. the main event. as a groan escaped from the majority. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. an attempt to propitiate the gods of western capitalism – gods who were deserting their true believers in the deepening economic downturn – with appropriate acts of brand sacrifice and marketing mortification. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. those whose side-bets were misplaced. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. Howling with bestial abandon. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. with fighting as part of the fun. Mr Peanut. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. belly dancing. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. Without further ado. Transfixed. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. because a lot of money had been lost. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. Aghast at the brand butchery. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. slowly. The first combatant strode in imperiously. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. seductively. She started peeling off her skin. Then another brand character contest kicked off. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. His followers showered him with confetti- . however. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. removed his monocle and. In his top hat and monocle.
like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the
opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.
Brands Can Only Get Better
Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.
The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the
Aleksandr was in awe of the master. brand. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. Izod and analogous alligators. rapids. slow travel. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. the jungle less and less dense. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. apropos of nothing. They stopped. 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. eddies. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. He knew what P&G were capable of. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. slow parenting and so on. shook him down. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. 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. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. But not right away. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. . when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. He was a Mars Inc. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. similar to slow food. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. after asking what was biting. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. which was a first for Mustapha. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. The river got narrower and narrower. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. But she said nothing. chewed the fat about brand longevity. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. of conviction. He’d been there. whirlpools. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. The lynx laughed it off. Understandably. The captain said they were Crocs. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. A strange strain of fish. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. Bella wasn’t so sure. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. CEOs need to chill a little. of continuing with the same basic proposition. If anything.form of sandbanks. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. since they are exposed to them more frequently. He added. top-hatted and smirking. and whisked him off to meet his doom. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. exchanged greetings and. shallows. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably.
though not inaccurately. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath.” Mustapha said. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. in an awestruck voice. The Michelin Man. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. “Jeez. he’s really let himself go. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. all right. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. The overweight icon said nothing. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). “They were airbrushed. like little boys playing truant. At a bend in the river. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. no. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. “Who?” “Bibendum. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. There were no signposts to speak of. That’s definitely not Doughboy. a superhuman snowman. “They’re all at it nowadays. held her steady in the centre of the stream. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably.” “Photoshop. either. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.” Bella contradicted. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. Barclays Bank. they spotted Strider. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently.” “No. “Five star restaurants. believe me. Mustapha looked confused. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. bigger than the Marlboro Man. Not far ahead of them. asking after his welfare. He doles out the awards. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. The remains of a massive . more like. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. He looked in pretty good shape. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. Louis and Orlov fell about.” Louis said.” Bella snapped. No sweat. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. run a few errands.As the brand band slid upstream.” Orlov quipped. the Johnnie Walker whisky character.” Louis continued. don’t forget.” “He’s big. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. allowing for the onrushing current. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. He throttled back and.” “Heaven help us. wondering if they could do anything for him.” Louis sighed. right in front of the distended inner tube. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. even though he knew he shouldn’t.” Orlov gasped. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman.
Red thereafter. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. . but he still said nothing. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb. Smiling appreciatively. And it was.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. ravaged by fine wines. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. White to start. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. “It isn’t alive. “I think it’s a statue. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more.” But it wasn’t. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. the mist descended. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. The blimp burped instead.” Orlov said. Before long. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere.
who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. UFOs. There was Quisp.” More in hope than expectation. She could sense it. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. Orlov?” Bella called. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. “Maybe back in the good old days. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. Her brain had gone numb. The fug literally vibrated at one point. Taking command once more. at least. sometimes arcing across the sky. “We’re entering Aliens country. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. “Area 51. No good will come of this. “But in this day and age. sometimes to starboard. practically. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. A humming sound started up to starboard. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . “What do you reckon. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. such as it was. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. pulsing intermittently.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. They moved around above them. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. sometimes to port. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. smell it. ACME was within her grasp. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Bella stood in the forecastle.” he shouted. touch it. like an air raid siren. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. But Bella wasn’t listening. Bella bellowed back. She had other things to attend to. Another loud hum struck up to port. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. right? Since the 1950s. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. Brand abduction. There’s nothing to worry about. Close encounters. There was Google’s Android software icon. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. Little green men. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. She couldn’t think of any more. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. he gurned from time to time.
“This is Fanta Falls. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. Bella’s band were close. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. A vast orange sodafall. Ho. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. flight by flight. Eventually. but Bella said no. Ho. The buzzing had stopped. He’s done his duty by us. presumably to another planet. though. eyeball-melting orange in hue. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. broke out his wings and took flight. The acme. he gave up. cut into the living rock.” Louis didn’t disagree. legs lashing.” Bella hissed. bubbling and fizzing. sucking his thumb. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. They’re impassable. “Please. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. rather. “Shut him up. feelers flailing. Brand stretch is bad news. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. Spectral silence reigned. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. even. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. it was definitely the colossus of brands. very close. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. Louis made to tie the tub up. It got louder and louder. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. allegedly. Bella licked the side of her beak. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. to the tableland above. Said they were legendary. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. as a wall of fizzy water. let her go. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. At the side of the falls. An intense stare. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle.” she called.” With a natural nautical flair. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. Before long. “I know where we are. The lull didn’t last. bramble .” Orlov did the needful. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. The epitome. There’s no point persecuting him any further. someone.yammering that prevented rational thought. they mounted purposefully. Smirking despite their perilous situation. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. The landing lights had moved on. “Hush. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. The captain’ll come round soon enough. “This is where we get off.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. bracken patches. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. Several flights of stairs later. Without pausing for breath. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. A dull rumble roared ahead.” she shouted to Louis.
bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways.” she said. “I just don’t get it. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. neo-classical pastiche. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. “and then see what’s what. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. “It’s Professor Kipling. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were.” he said. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. They set off for the administrative building. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. Truth. I suspect. It was a university. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. Bibendum. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. However. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. As they drew closer to the structure. more beautiful still were the students. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. too. As Bella and the boys strolled past. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. Beefeater. almost art deco. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME.bunches and hardy karst grasses. surely. According to a poll in Time magazine. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. He was right. grikes and runnels ahead. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. cold. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. nothing less than BrandLand University College. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . wall-mounted day planners. to be precise. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. of course. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. Certainly. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. The others gathered round to do likewise. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. Bella was bewildered. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. while trying to work out where they were. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. a new university. cold.
Top medics are always called Mister. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. a kind of inverted snobbery. rats. Kipling’s door was at the very end. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by.s.p.” Orlov corrected. then reappeared waving excitedly. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. Not him too. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. That’s a good thing. “He isn’t a professor after all. disappeared into the belly of the beast. “This is the place. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. “There’s a board by the door that says so. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor.a.body. mouthing bowwow for good measure. Pochacco the dog. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. Understandably.” “He’s in. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. Picke Bicke mouse. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline.” Mustapha crowed. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. Louis. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. “It’s Mr Kipling.” a melodious voice responded. bats and gnats in full academic regalia.” “Actually.” Orlov sighed.” he shouted. “At last. They knocked politely.” Bella noted. “Excellent.” There was indeed. while holding open the heavy glass door. Exasperated. Louis would have volunteered to help. Don’t be bashful. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. Bella shook her head. There’s hope for us yet. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body.” “Great.” . Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. a. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. 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.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. It’s even more elevated than Professor. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. He winked by way of replying. “Enterrrrr. Pekkle the duck. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. “Enter. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. They piled into the lift and. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. if not exactly in seventh heaven. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. a few moments later.
Undeterred. raised her flipper. Orlov shrugged. .Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. Louis nodded. then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Bella took a deep breath. thought about things for a second. and pushed. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably.
curled in a ball. As Bella gazed around the room. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. Pussain. But there were long chains of Russian cats. which stretched from floor to ceiling. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. Whereas dogs are everywhere. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. “Second. Cataletto. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets.” she asked. Catstable. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. “First. are often negative. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. as product spokespersians. “only for cats?” Smiling. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. She was right on the first count.” Mr Kipling said. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. all silent. His handlebar . Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. cats are discriminated against and. She imagined.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. as brand mascots. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. “Before you ask. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. Books there were. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. and several others she didn’t recognise. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. with black necktie and starched collar. “Is that like the glass ceiling. Salvadore Kitty. Statues of cats. She didn’t know what to expect. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. but not on the second. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. Dozens of them. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. It was the statues that surprised her. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. though most of these were open and in use. dewy eyed. etc. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. all ceramic. smiling obsequiously. what few portrayals there are. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. that it would be filled with books and not much else. somehow. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. There were paintings by Catavaggio. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines.
since the brand was a lynx in name only. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. He knew her grandfather well. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. As it was true confessions time. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. . “And you. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. “Correct. The patriarch pushed back his chair. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Louis.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. along with the space-invader sound effects. he was less impressed by. industrious. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. it transpired. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. turning to Orlov. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. He rubbed his chin idly. However there was a good reason for that. proper. much less the BrandLand University campus. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. intellectual acuity. To all intents and purposes. which was disappointing given the manifold myths.” he continued. Black Beauty. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. when the English Literature department came up for discussion.” Kipling conceded. then rose to greet his visitors. about flipper fatigue. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. nor the surrounding countryside. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. or said he did. Bella inhaled deeply. clandestine success. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. He recognised Bella right away.” Kipling said. Indeed. “I see. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. Orlov. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. peering at her intently. rose from his desk. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. “I see.” Kipling said calmly. “Let me show you something. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. unerring. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. lost in thought. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab.” he called. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered.
What you see. Bella. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. to Kipling’s irritation. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. There is no controlling force. She’d been out for hours. It’s a fake. Bella was too stunned to respond. She was lying on a leather chaise longue.” “An exceedingly good fake. She tried again. animal emblem products in particular. worried looks on their faces. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. Bella. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist.” A light went on above her head. where we study black swans. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. “It’s more intangible than that.Animal Farm. ACME is a generic term. Watership Down. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment.” Orlov quipped. “We’re talking about a state of mind. surrounded by plaster cats. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. Academy Country Mammal Education. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. “Take a sip. let alone a committee that calls the shots. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. Bad as capitalism can be. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. Toad of Toad Hall. Call of the Wild.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. unprotected by copyright or trademark. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. a glass of hard liquor in hand. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. Mr Kipling sat beside her.” Bella said.” “In a way. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. with a . “So. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. The Gruffalo. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. I take it.” he said. purple cows. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. Everything became clear. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. is an agglomeration of ACMEs.” At a loss. Bella awoke. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. “If it’s not any of the buildings. The clouds parted. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. The Ugly Duckling. used by all and sundry. the Hare and the Tortoise. Bella. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. With a start.
emphasising. “I’m impressed. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. “This isn’t a snack. Exactly. “We live in a world of identical products. “Almond slices. As Bella sat up.” Bella said. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection. “I’m not hungry. Very impressed. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. It was a rhetorical question. It looked and smelled delicious. however. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole.” The meerkat nodded sagely. He was starving. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. However. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. .” Disappointed. to her companions’ relief. say. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. “Exactly. The rewards are enormous in the end. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. distilled from dead dogs.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. then stowed the bottle away. instant returns. instant rewards. though. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. You should consider a career in academia. instant impact…or else.” With a good-try smile. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. We need people like you round here. though. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis.twinkle in his eye. “Oh. separates the inseparable. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. Orlov dropped his eyes. One was right in front of the lynx. someone once said. or so the story goes. I’m okay.” 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. “No really. It’s a test. I could acquire a taste for that. perhaps? Apple pie. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. raising a flipper in protest. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. All this way for what? What indeed. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones.” he said.” With a knowing look. Curvoisier delivered. especially in these days of instant results. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. renders the similar dissimilar. just like these slices of cake. “Branding. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. “These are the essence of branding. He succumbed. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. she thought. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. Aleksandr. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. Kipling returned to his desk. aren’t they? Angel cake. Effective branding is a very slow process.
You establish a monopoly.” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. eyeing up the other slice. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties.” Bella said. Louis struck his best cute cat pose... He needn’t have bothered.” Louis added. It’s cheap. You swallow the competition. at least in the short run. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. “I think you do. finishing her brandy. fast and effective. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face.” “I still don’t see.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed.” . his rudeness. Exactly.” Mr Kipling replied. “Exactly.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. Next are bipedal animals. Bella cursed herself bitterly. Michelin Man. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. Captain Birdseye. was motivated by self-interest. It was a blatant power-play. chinstraps or rockhoppers. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. say anything. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough.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. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. Humankind. If anything. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. Models and Explanations. The irony. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. as did the early 1900s. those that walk or stand upright . The demand for spokescreatures. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. though. Dogs’d do anything. Bella had never heard the expression before. As did the Great Chain of Branding. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. when western capitalism also wobbled. they were much less photogenic than adélies. according to Kipling. Had it been McKitty. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. He’d concocted a credible external threat. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. the suckers at the centre of it all. his slaughter of the innocents. frankly. swear to anything. However. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. Breed-interest. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. Accordingly. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. in short. his call for a cull of isabellines. to say nothing of tourists. is that penguins are as popular as ever. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. Le Penguin didn’t want that. emperors. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. was counter-cyclical. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. He wanted power. Cute critters remind them of childhood. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. designed to make his breed the boss. rather.
Beaten. Le Penguin had won. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. cats. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. Not by a long chalk. She glanced across at Kipling. by and large. monkeys. with shame. Not yet. Quadrupeds like cows. Branding. rhinos. Louis seemed excited. to the top of the penguin pile. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. or so she believed. “I’ll be staying here for a while.” Bella purred. or possibly rockhoppers. naturally. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. She’d been outsmarted. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. The entire journey had been a waste of time. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. They were a study in contrasts. they say. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. She was going to miss him. But all was not lost. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. Recession. sheep. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. crocodiles are further down the rankings. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. “Rrrrrrrrr. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. She’d fallen for it. is red in tooth and claw.in semi-human fashion. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. She turned to her companions. the climax of Animal Farm. spiders and cockroaches. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. sadly. Not completely.” “Actually. Bella felt fit to be tied. meerkats and prairie dogs. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. They hugged. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. most notably bears. She recalled. Bella. they’d been living on a pig’s back. “I think it’s time to go. However. much less millipedes. . She’d been a fool. guys. at bottom. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. She’d been beaten. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. dogs. Well beaten. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. The Great Chain explained a lot. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. penguins. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. Easy-going as a rule.” Louis said. Worse. Clearly. though not as far down as six-legged. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. because penguins had done pretty well. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. given its size and growth prospects. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. Literally. tigers.
he looked forward to attending her lecture. the way I skimmed so many others. condiments and preserves. pickles. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. before whispering in his ear.” She leant forward. “I think we can do better than that. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. I could do with it.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. “Thanks. “You gave Kipling the look. Attenborough. for example. Assam. and the not so highly regarded Department of . Ever proper. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. She held him tightly. “I’ve got a lot to learn. “If ever you need…” “Yes. I’m afraid. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. “I’m staying too. Skin It.” Mirthful. Follow me. Her latest was called Snare It. including Catch It. Aleksandr. “…and. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. But I skimmed that particular entry. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. eyes shining with meerkat tears. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. The meerkat was mistaken.” he giggled. as well as with sauces. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). “That’s our Simples secret.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. Shoot It.” the great brand man chuckled. To his shame and embarrassment. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. for starters. Toast It. Apparently. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. which was sure to prove provocative. the vaunted TV naturalist. Bella. I know. Still chatting. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. Beaten to his own punch line. I’m Flat Eric 2.” Touched. Trim It. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement.” he said. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. Scoff It. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. Cambridge. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble.0. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. I know. You’re too kind.” Louis laughed. However.Sad-faced. I’m a fad. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. Clean It. Taste It. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. I’m a fraud. with a come-here gesture to Louis. kissed him on the cheek and. Thanks. Bella. “Why’s that. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. Cook It.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me.
though. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. Mustapha. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. don’t you know.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. I’m a desert rat. “I’ve got something for you.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. Under normal circumstances. the great . With six legs and a little get up and go.” Orlov said. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. With the hood up. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. bobcat’s your uncle. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. plus matching undergarments. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. credit…” No less nonplussed. raw material.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak. before you know it. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more.Popular Culture. Eventually. “After you’ve cleaned up here. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. They were a perfect fit. “All sold out. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. one Mustapha Midden. “But where?” Louis inquired. All six of them. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. So much so. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. suppliers.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). Can’t stand the cold. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner. “you need permission. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. “But surely. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. the throng dispersed. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest.” Orlov said. she looked like a sacred ibis. bookstore. ponytails. lookingood-ladies palaver. they emerged into a compact. Mustapha stared at them askance. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors.” “No can do. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces.” He rubbed his claws again. “But how?” Bella asked. Her utter amazement. beehives. however. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. all with a snazzy scarab logo. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally.” With a flourish. while rubbing his legs gleefully. Before long. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. “I like this place. “You might be needing these for your journey. and. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. Bella tried them on.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types.” “Many claws make light work.
glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. where she awaited further instructions. the scribe. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. then mounted her de luxe conveyance.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. Louis. On Kipling’s call. she was gone. Bella hugged Aleksandr. the arbiter. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. . Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn.
During the appeasement era. redolent of Roedean.” Ecstasy said immodestly. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. she was getting used to it.” she replied diplomatically. serene. with impenetrable jungle on either side. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. Why. Bella didn’t hold that against her. much less defeated fierce macaronis. Bella thought. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. Paris Humboldt. Bella replied in the affirmative. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. she asked.” she said. 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. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. apparently. yah. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. If not quite Anna Karenina.” “Rather. As they flew over Fanta Falls. Bella was spellbound.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. If he’d been on this Rolls. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. Isaac and Nina. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. “We fiddled while the brand burned. the offbeat plan solidified. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. I am. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. she had lost her best friend. It was true what they said. under German ownership. As they rose to their cruising altitude. suffice it to say. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. “You’re looking well on it. then proceeded to deliver a blowby-blow account of the torrid love affair between Lord Montagu and Eleanor Thornton that instigated the emblem’s creation. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. “Yah. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. though. She had nothing to lose. anymore. So did Bella. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. luxurious. But after Pegasus and the Roc. She had lost her parents. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. “They don’t make ’em like you. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. Ogilvy hated flying. She asked instead about the brand. lowly place though it was.
Perched on the back of a flying angel. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. A murmur commenced.” Taken aback. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. in the far distance. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. Sad. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. 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 bitter.” “Tell the tale. look. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Better yet. She could see them pointing their flippers. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. It was déjà vu all over again. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. It’s a trick. moreover. Look.” Ecstasy sighed. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card.” All talked out. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. even though she’d no home to go to. Bella screeched at the multitude below. Before long. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft.” “Quite. She could see the Homebase Glacier. Buffeted by howling winds. wrapped up . More and more turned round and faced skywards.” Carried away on the wind. the Iceland ice shelf. folks. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. Bella could feel herself welling up. all equidistant. except that there were more macaronis than before. the deep blue Boots crevasses. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. don’t fall for it. Bella whirled round. He’s a tyrant. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. I suppose. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. He sounded crazier than ever. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. It was invigorating. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. The bitterer the better. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. The muster was much better organised. Almost instantly. Suddenly she could. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. a penguin power play. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. She was home. Bella felt a chill in the air. taking in the incredible apparition above them. she mused. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. looking for a suitable landing site. all shouting as one. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. It was beautiful too. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. all regimented. make the sale.“That’s where we went wrong. Bella believed. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. an enormous shocked intake of breath. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. though some adélies looked up. It was wonderful. Outraged. She couldn’t make it out at first. “Yes.
which of course is our community’s speciality.” she whispered to herself. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. had finally arrived. as her image appeared on the giant screen.in a great taupe cloak. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. the coming creature is the prairie dog. She bit her lip. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. because she was one of their own. while pulling back her khaki cowl. The crowd gasped again. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. Denunciation was doomed. He vacated the microphone. “Seize the day.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. head covered in an enormous cowl. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. “According to the Meow Jones Index. Emperors. Bella swallowed. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. It was hard to control her anger. it seemed.” . It was risky. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. We’re all macaronis now. with only her beak protruding. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. These were the people who’d killed her parents. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. Antithesis. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. I met him. in delight and relief. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. Ten days ago. The Ibis. “There is a solution. However. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse.” She paused again. followed by those of gentoo descent. as he tried to work out her angle. But he couldn’t interrupt. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. Even macaronisation won’t save us. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. Very risky. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. He quickly regained his composure. There is no hope for us. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face.” Bella announced to the multitude. All brands must pass. a way out for us all. it needed several seconds to germinate. Having planted the seed of hope. She knew she only had one shot. here on behalf of ACME. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. “I am. however. Inadvertently. She held fire. She took a deep breath. a sign. The entire crowd squawked in horror. another rises. she must have been a baleful sight. Would it were otherwise. It requires a little lateral thinking. a messenger. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. they seemed to say. however. a shot across the bows. As one creature falls in human estimation. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held.
Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts.” There was complete silence for a second. The dream did. Not bemused. one for all. “I want my MuMi. The old order would re-establish itself. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured.” the audience shouted. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. will have to depilate. Today is my day. she turned away from the podium.” . Bristling with rage. because I’ll be back. Enjoy it. The blackfoots went bananas.” “Catch you later. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force.The audience exchanged glances. Prairie dogs are tuftless. penguin parity didn’t exist. And take your tufts with you. asshole. Suddenly.” “Don’t cull us. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. we’ll cull you.” “Not today you won’t. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. I’ll make an exception. sadly. Penguins are passé. royals royals. Playful as always. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. No more tufts. critter. “It means removing all tufts. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. you isabelline bitch. In reality. of togetherness. “I’ll get you for this. Bella thought. The gentoos jumped for joy. She had another card to play. Not sceptical. a huge roar of approval rent the air. They live in large communities like us. “Every prairie dog has its day. complete with stylish scarab logo. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. No more macaronisation. she looked incredible. She already had. even though their natural crests would have to go too. a little like isabellines.” Mmmm. “Fear not. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. It was the riskiest of the lot. such as our beloved macaronis. This is a heavy price. “I want my MuMi. It was all or nothing.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. Kings could be kings. where you belong. No more hairpieces.” she said calmly. emperors emperors.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. but the rewards are enormous. Even our most extravagantly crested species. Having won over the doubters. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. though. Victorious. But with a sick slimeball like you. as the gathering made up its mind. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities.” He glared murderously. like us. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. “Fellow penguins. I want my MuMi. I know. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. of all for one. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. though. They look a little like us.
For ever. In the meantime. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. be it the iPod. she told herself. She didn’t belong anymore. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. she’d never felt so lonely. if not his totemic tufts. they dreamed dreams of freedom.and laptop-equipped cubicles. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. since penguin popularity had never been higher. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. Rin Tin Tin. Sean the Sheep on the other. 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. Alone with her thoughts. there were MuMis to move. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. However. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. but really didn’t now. according to Mr Kipling. the more they exploited it. Look on the bright side. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. admittedly. Akin to chained animals in their phone. 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. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . Stuart Little on the one hand. Still. Except it didn’t last long. prevalent though pigeonholing was. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. It was unnecessary. She never really did. Where there’s muck there’s brands. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. or to complain about stereotyping. Finny too. trampled on though they were. Mickey Mouse. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Thoughts of her dead friend. Donald Duck. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. mashups and graphic novels. was draining away inexorably. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. 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 had a job to do. Orlov had said. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. The cuter the critter. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. Thoughts of her late parents. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. True. Pixar and Dreamworks.
gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. especially to those without them. because they already embody the brand. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. She had a busy time ahead of her. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. Mustapha.” she chided. Air kiss. you know. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. I’ll be passing on P&G. On a whim. “I hope you realise.deliverer. Actually. The crevasse caught her eye.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. was drawing in. let alone satanic macaronis. She glanced around. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. She checked her MuMi ensemble. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits.” “I hope you realise.” Mustapha countered. The sun was low in the sky. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. if there were problems with build quality. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. Bella was all alone.” With a smile of admiration. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. Laughing. “I’ll work on it. air kiss. She stared over the edge of the glacier. smiling at the strangely distant memory.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. Mustapha changed the subject. It was time to pay her final respects.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. ideally someone with a flair for logistics.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. such as it was. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. she said her fashionista farewells. suffice it to say. However. Bella. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. she Skypied Mustapha. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. “that there are forty million cats up north. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. . many maintain. She felt the material with a flipper. Logistics. Seemed pretty stout. Mustapha. Mummies are special. Mummies mean a lot. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. the ride was really rather thrilling. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. Evening. No one was looking. “I’ll be needing agents. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. who was hard at work on his furballs.” “Goody! Gotta go. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. Ciao. darling. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis.
Both of them did. more like. She could see stars. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. She corkscrewed like crazy. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. BMW Blue. Pepsi-cola Blue. it descended through IBM Blue.“Weeeeeeeeee. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. Alarm bells ringing. She’d forgotten how fast it was. in fact. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Despite her abject terror. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. the great divide. Recklessly. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. Bella shook her head. screaming. were incredible to behold. slow-witted leopard seals. A sheet anchor. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. her death wish. Pale Tiffany blue to start. howling. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. She pushed and pushed and pushed. unquestionably. Head throbbing. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. yourself especially.” he observed. Uncle Izzy. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. as there always are. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness.” . Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. She bounced over bumps several times. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. the warp-factor slide into the sea. It got caught around her ankles. She hurtled round bends. water-resistant. eyes watering.” “I…I…I…Oh. The kaleidoscopic colours. Go faster. A death sentence. not looking where she was going. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. Paris. The looming twosome merged into one. All of a sudden. Waterlogged. beak aching. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. punctuated by periods of blind panic. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. apart from that downpour up the jungle. But only for a second. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. to no avail. trying to focus. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. however. Isaac and Nina.” Bella dived head-first into the void. shrieking with alarmed laughter. She tried to kick the thing off. moaning and groaning. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. the precipitous final plunge. The previous ride was coming back to her. “Izzy. more like. but was far too fearful to care. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. she remembered the wall of death. young woman. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. my head hurts. across the bay. past slackjawed. no way.
huddled together. They all talked at once. daddy. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. They assumed the worst. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. Daddy. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. to one side of the wall of death divide.” Smiling indulgently. Bella’s parents came to join her. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. you know. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook.” . as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. you say?” “Yes. and then she saw them. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. “Mummy. She peeped anxiously over the screen. They had their hands full with Paris.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way.” He had her on “are”. dearest. surrounded by screens. However. Bella leapt up. sleeping gently.” They looked up. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. backs bowed. head completely clear. You owe them an apology. There’s a bit of scarring. mummy. she didn’t know what to say. a proper job. “Paris is perfectly fine. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. looking pale and interesting. not knowing what to expect. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. But her outfit saved her. no.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. Bella scampered across to her best friend. all distant relatives. what have you been doing with yourself. manifestly in mourning. worried sick. mummy. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. Plans to get a real job.” “Miracles never cease. “So. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. “Your parents are worried sick about you. Overcome with emotion. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. heads bent. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. There the heiress was. she hugged her parents with all her might. but she’ll live. “No. They rushed toward her. Staggered. They couldn’t find her. it was Bella’s decision.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. The decision was made. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. “Worried sick. daddy. daughter of mine. Disappearing off like that. Ecstatic. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. she toward them.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. followed his indicative flipper. daddy. to his delighted consternation. We smuggled her to safety. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. young lady. She’s happy the way she is. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. Without a by your leave.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse.
Let me explain. it’s a long story.“What??!!” “As I said.” THE END .
” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. the ebullient founder of Amazon.” Needless to say. 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. who would win?” And. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. Who will win. I have no fucking idea. because we need to be the . basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. Although no topic was taboo. prospects. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. plans and profitability. you know. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. Daisey. 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.com. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. without fail. on the web. for example. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace.” “Like a secret message.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. “That’s a good question. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos.” “Or a plan. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. that at some point in the proceedings. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. Way back in the early days of the company. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. and the perfect work will do both. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. 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.
nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. the students hated Levitt’s essay. Bears with guns. enthusiastically. Aflac duck. Slazenger’s panther or Chester.2 Much to my surprise. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. bombastic and. 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.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. I surmised. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . Some time ago. I didn’t get round to most of them. Maybe. I mean. boring. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. Maybe. I cast around for excuses. 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. short. I conceded. a sure fire cure for insomnia. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. though. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. today’s multi-tasking. Granted. Puma’s puma. it pains me to report. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. We begin with a little bit of backstory. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. 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. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). Some students were blown away. petroleum. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer.armed bears. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. hey. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. admittedly. They found it dull.3 Taken aback by this reaction. Maybe. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. and. But. the bears who come equipped. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. I made a start on several others. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. I fully expected the students to respond positively. the case studies in the original – railroads. favourably. Jaguar’s jaguar. I mused. interestingly. All things considered.
4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. One was the latest management bestseller. Once again. Undeterred. as a quirk of the Irish. I did what many novice novelists do. and The Lost Logo. There was only one problem. But then I noticed something intriguing. Except that I did. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. Marilyn Monroe. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. if not undaunted. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. The antidote. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. in effect. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. If anything. while queuing up for the cash register. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. as an aberration. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. Nevertheless. As an inveterate booklover. by the task I’d set myself. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. . I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. They cost an absolute fortune. secret codes proliferated. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. what’s more. My students. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). naturally). Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. You couldn’t make it up. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. I had never written fiction before. tongue-in-cheek. as they say. clearly.Unfortunately. In my case. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. When flying around the country. the writing role model was Dan Brown. Let alone thrillers. much less reading the wretched things. Agents & Dealers. as did Bono. Between 2005 and 2008. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. a literary genre that may or may not have been my own invention but which appeared to offer the best of both worlds by combining relevance and readability. The second was a Stephen King or a Robert Ludlum or a John Grisham or a Jackie Collins or a Barbara Taylor Bradford or something broadly similar. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes.5 Dead bodies abounded. The Marketing Code. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse.
I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. By far my biggest mistake. if truth be told. However. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. similarly. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. Nowadays. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. Yes. The whole process. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. Red Bull energy drink. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. funnily enough.). 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. Students. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. It seemed like an interesting project and. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. full stop. the kernel for the covering. Ditto my fiction. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. Essentially. My original intention was to leave things there. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. 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. of William Golding. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. was that I tried to do too much. real world marketing problems don’t come in neat and tidy packages and to that extent my works of fiction are more true to life than traditional textbooks. chronology. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting.In retrospect. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. Like any learner. And quite a few of my later ones. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. pacing. though. characterisation and more besides. Crocs shoes. never mind bring them all together successfully. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. However.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. techniques and writing style of academia. I suppose. consumer behaviour. as it gave me . etc. The same is true of fiction. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. True. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. action sequences especially. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. Stork margarine. say.
In movies. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. he commanded. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. are exemplary media mashups. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. car parking in Tel Aviv. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. bits of bytes brought together as books. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. mashups are digital medleys. Rob Williams. In television. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. My brilliant publisher. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. In the literary world. computer applications et al. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. meanwhile. videos. the way I did before. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). wasn’t impressed. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. In this case. not unlike those in the Decameron. I mean. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. the breakup of rock band Oasis. Pom Somkabcharti. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Stop writing parodies. Let the brand characters be characters. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. Rob cut through the crap.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. the reader. 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”. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” .7 In music. Arabian Nights. Whistler. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. What’s more. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. The Penguin’s Progress was born. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. Canterbury Tales. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. et al. songs. In the visual arts. admittedly. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. Bring the brands to life.
It gathers together several hundred brand characters. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. As one commentator ruefully observes: . In a shared narrative space. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. consumer response has been highly favourable. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. she’s Borden born and bred. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. True. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. Jennifer Government. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. Pattern Recognition. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. of late. fan fiction. let alone Red Lobster. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Ask any counterfeiter. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. That said. Brand characters are trademarked. however. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. What’s more. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. between the covers of glossy magazines. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. their copyrights. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. 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. on roadside billboards. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. among others). in the main. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. That elephant is called copyright. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. Charlie the Tuna. their intellectual property. for certain consumers at any rate. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. There’s an elephant in the room.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. though a hardline. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. Indeed. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. which features more than 3. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes.
For one thing. the author. the genius screenwriter. It does so with satirical intent. their teeth and genital organs. Any criticism. last but not least. As a critic by inclination. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. then we may all. but the conventional marketing textbook. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. Alun Richards. I grant you. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. live to regret it. nations. As if. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. hawks or eagles. unconventional ways. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. 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. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. we pulverise their livers and bones. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. To normal human beings. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. except for the lawyers. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. This attempt may not be successful. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting.10 I can’t deny. . That’s their prerogative. The Bedside Book of Beasts. my incredible family – Linda. the dreadful how-to tome. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. and. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. though. who was a notorious borrower. the “Faber Fellowship”. Madison. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. Rob Williams. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. And yet. the standard academic article. however. should be directed at me. bears or tigers. Just think of Handel. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. original. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. Holly and Sophie – who listened to my blossoming “beast fable” with a mixture of mild amusement and mounting concern that daddy had finally taken leave of his senses. We seek to empower kingdoms. TPP is an attempt to do just that. As pastoralists and sport hunters. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. professional sports teams. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated.
arguably a symptom of the male menopause. I’m acutely conscious that. The younger generations are prepared to read. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. or a deceptive mixture of the two. from Claude and the comic book. You glutton for punishment. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. 2005). computer games and videography. we need to explore other platforms. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. 6.feathers. bears are renowned spirit guides. you! If you have any comments on the novel. However. mine has been reasonably productive. are available in his excellent anthology. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. 209-238. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. compared to some mid-life crises. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. experiment and belief. whose art takes from then and now. Both. As with all symbolic representations. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. 5. 2. 2002). the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were.com (Fourth Estate. Yes. See Stephen Brown. 2004. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. London. incidentally. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. As a group. in what seems to be a search . I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. and body-parts from the earliest of times. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. 7. Thank you for reading this far. and the ancestors of humanity. pp. and Christ the Lion of Judah. or scavengers. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal.com Notes and References 1. 1986). Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. New York. London. 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. It’s very widely cited. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. My only defence is that. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. scientific and irrational. pp.sfxbrown. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. as a card-carrying academic. for example. 9899. Among northern peoples. helpful or destructive. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. 4. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. Don’t all rush at once. Speaking personally. This may well be so. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. Still available from all good charity shops. 3. such as iPhone apps.Mike Daisey. Marketing Theory 4 (3). Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage.
Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. 1-23. 2008). London. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. pp. On the on-going copyright debate. . Culture Magazine. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. Chicago. 2005) and his more recent polemic. 2010). Sunday 25 April. 2010. London. The Sunday Times. 6-7). p. Loftus. 2010. Kathryn A. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. 8. 2002. 9. John Naughton. pp. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. Braun. 2008). Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. London.for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. Psychology and Marketing. The Observer. New York. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. “Entering a whole new head space”. 21. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. 10. check out Lawrence Lessig. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. 2009). 5 June. 19 (1).
the HMV dog. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. Captain Birdseye. assorted Scottish Widows and many. all told. Morris the Cat. Aunt Jemima. J. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. the Mytag repair man. or the Noid. Of this total. Colonel Saunders. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). Elsie. Fido Dido. the Vodaphone pug. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. are made in passing. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Joe Isuzu. this is as it should be because “We are people. Hartley. 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 Hofmeister beer bear.151 individual entries. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. the Burger King. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. Johnny English. Ronald McDonald. the Borden cow. We know a lot about ourselves. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. Crazy Eddy. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. the Vlasic stork. Pillsbury Doughboy. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. Cheeka. After trawling through websites. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. Uncle Ben. the Bisto family. a shades-wearing. the Gold Blend couple. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. many more. perhaps inevitably. Nipper.2 It follows. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Veritably Clean. the Bon Ami .1 Well. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). whether it be A Bathing Ape. Howard Brown.R.com sock puppet. the Coppertone Girl. the Pets. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. such as Hello Kitty. moreover. the Michelin Man. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. Anthropomorphically speaking. the Morton Salt Girl. my dataset comprised 1. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. not entirely. Bertie Bassett. Julius Pringles. This concept – an admittedly glib adaptation of the medieval belief that all living beings are arranged in accordance with their distance from god – is not a figment of my imagination. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Most of these mentions.
and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). the Lacoste crocodile. Wild animals are rather less popular. Crocs shoes. eagles and horses are popular in America.chickens. Tom Tomato). the Dodge ram. Shell petrol. France is fond of roosters. the Monster. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. Mr Kipling cakes. caterpillars. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). Aliens. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. as are personified fruits. dolphins. seahorses. However. for instance. anthropomorphic mobile phones. The first of these involves national animals. whales. Jaguar cars. mystify. albeit butterflies. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. India of elephants and so forth. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. storks bring children. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. Mr Clean. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. when the space race. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. In some cases. the Calvin Klein polo pony. Chiquita Banana. Puma sportswear. no less). four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. Dove deodorant. perhaps surprisingly. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. vegetables and plants (e. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. etc). spiders.com and Bell Canada beavers. Le Coq Sportif. freedom. thanks to Steven Spielberg. the logo. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. Cobra beer. needless to say. Broadly speaking.3 A secular trend is evident too. The match model is characterised by congruence. Penguin books. Californian Raisins. As you might expect. Insects. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. unsurprisingly. mix. Toilet Duck. fecundity. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. bring up the rear. ladybirds. multiply. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. Woodpecker cider. Mr Peanut. Camel cigarettes. owls impart wisdom. cuckoos cause trouble. In addition to the overall pattern. South Africa of springboks.g. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. fireflies and. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. the Aflac duck. whereby the brand name. furthermore. This is very much in keeping . Birds. 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. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. Cap’n Crunch cereal. Australia of kangaroos. Kangaroos sneakers. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. More recently. Betty Crocker. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. turtles and lizards.
Beauregard. by contrast. glowering. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. the Lacoste crocodile. rarely go off the rails and. begat Chipper. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. Chester. way back when. is perhaps the . the Airwick ostrich. believe me). The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. the Toys R Us giraffe. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. the Hush Puppies basset hound. the penguin. 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. don’t complain. Leo. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. The fourth stage. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. Geoffrey. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. the HMV dog. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. each with their own colourful personality. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. the Cheetos cheetah. That said. the MGM lion. but it doesn’t do brands any harm.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. At one stage. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. the belief that if one critter is good. the Trix rabbit. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. Congenital critter creep is one thing. In effect. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. Morris. basically speak on behalf of the brand. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. fire-breathing dog with six legs. Maturity is marked by multiplication. the 9Lives spokescat. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. black. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. whose name you’ll never ever guess. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. Willie. the Kool cigarettes penguin. similarly. though.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. the Budweiser Clydesdales. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. Larabee. all things considered. Nipper. Since 1994. Multiply. but the mystify strategy is something else again. indeed. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. except that they work for free. animal mascots are not immortal. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand.
Their characters. social class. the sleep of reason produces mascots. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). religion. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. sexual orientation. promiscuous rabbits etc.7 Whatever else is . the same is not true of animals. like death. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. if anything. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. True. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. 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. 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. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). In general terms. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. more cherubic.6 Be that as it may. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). etc. their personalities. Le Penguin notwithstanding. so too today’s terrorist outrages. 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. sly foxes. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. age. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty.0 – cf. uncertainty and rapid technological change. their “natures”. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. gets younger. animals remain fair game. more childlike. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. stupid cows. The brand character. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. 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. cheeky monkeys. continue to be caricatured and vilified. gender. etc. 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.most fascinating of all. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. which increases opportunities to view. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. more cuddly. In this regard. 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. nevertheless. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. wise owls. Pace Goya.
This worldview. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. 5. The sum effect is arrested development. Lovejoy. 129. 89). 2004). at any rate. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. more submissive. 3. My database. many of which can fly (dragons. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. far less hardy. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. London. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. London. Gould. Tony the Tiger’s only son. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. . griffins. New York. 2009. pp. Note. The more things change in western capitalism. Claude Lévi-Strauss. BTW. “The great American bubble machine”. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Oxford. phoenixes. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. 8. C’est la vie. in years to come. Stephen J. Cambridge. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. 2009). Natural History. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. 13 July. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. 4. check out Stephen Brown. xi. 30-36. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. 1979. Anthropomorphically. Cambridge. London. 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. 2001). 1995). p. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. the more things stay the same. 2000). If you want to suffer further. 88 (1). and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. however.said.com. Totemism.rollingstone. [original 1962]. accessed 4 May 2010. Stewart Guthrie. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. 1936). trans. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. Pegasus and so on). www. 1964. 2. about our great economic cataclysm. 7.8 Notes and References 1. Matt Taibbi. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. p. incidentally. p. p. 89) explains.