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