The Penguin’s Progress
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
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. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding
A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. one and all. They are the embodiment of the brand.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. the constellations in the heavens. We’re anthropomanes. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Anthropomorphism. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. however. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. Apuleius. Andersen and Adams. The totem poles of native Americans. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. as are our haircuts (pony-. I don’t know.Animal Crackers
A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers
One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. dance steps
. like Tony the Tiger. It is ancient and ineradicable. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course.1 Twenty years hence. presumably. 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”. is a universal trait.and duck-tails). Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. A great mascot. How he got in my pyjamas. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. Chicago Bears. —Groucho Marx
On 19 May 2010. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. 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”. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. Sydney Swans). mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. There’s one thing I do know for certain. pig. 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.
animal spirits. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. 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. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. cash cows. which considers our earth to be a living. men on the moon.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination.9 Business organisations. are routinely regarded as organisms. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. orbiting hairballs. storytelling squirrels and so forth. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge.6 Even natural scientists. fat cats. lungs. cheese moving mice. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. 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. dead dogs. because it is in our best interest to do so. It helps us identify potential predators. self-
.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows.(foxtrot. Ninja Turtles). limbs and the like. big hairy audacious goals. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. consciousness. emotions. hidden hands. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters.5 What’s more. black swans. hive minds. hearts. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. furthermore. getting ducks in a row. Far Side. breathing. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. For others. computer games (EyePet. find that this is much easier said than done. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. Fred Basset). If anything. SimAnimal. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. welfare. it is a developmental trait. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. with brains. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. tarantella). apes in the corner office. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. cartoon strips (Peanuts. graphic novels (Maus. for example). bunny hop. Getting it right means survival. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. Fables. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. dancing elephants.3 For some. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. Needless to say.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. Angry Birds). coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. associated with childhood in particular. its ubiquity is not in doubt. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. long tails.
10 Indeed. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. both tearful and terrifying. is to educate as well as entertain. flourish and fight for the right to party. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. 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.regulating entity. 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. Or. is “alive inside”. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. Undergraduate students especially. Guinness. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. However. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. But many of them lack pizzaz. much as I hate the neologism. much less White Fang. Wind in the Willows. It’s a work. Squirrel Inc.13 This is a book about brand mascots. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. As such. much to the relief of consumers. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. after a fashion. Winnie-the-Pooh. say. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. forage. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. managers and would-be marketing managers. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. Meanwhile. Black Beauty. Its ultimate aim. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition.
. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. the legendary American adman. to be more precise. There are lots of books about brands and branding. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality.11 Viewed in this context. flirt. Watership Down. moreover. of edutainment for marketers. Brer Rabbit. insofar as it features a secondary world. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. The Way of the Rat. Who Moved My Cheese?. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal.
This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. however. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. Less is Sore. especially so). if one makes a move (new feature.15 The Fifth P is a Q. though. Managers feel the need to make changes. becoming the embodiment. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. of antipathy. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. To Thy Own Brand Be True. The fifth P. the exemplification of that niche. Products and services do not sell themselves. They have to be convinced. facts and more facts. shake things up and refresh the brand. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. In a world of identikit products and services. They don’t need more of anything. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. Action-minded by inclination. the epitome. are inherently conservative (raving fans. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. like the fifth element. new whatever). The Customer is Always Right Wing. frankly. they
. for fear of being left behind. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. in short. by and large. of out-and-out obstinacy. have been around for a very long time. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. The best loved brands. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. they extend the range. The theories. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. hive minds and what have you. It is also true of principles. new platform. better yet. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. The go-to brand. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. Just for you. All the way to Clone City. is quintessence. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. Consumers. all of which are functionally equivalent. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. they are prone to the next big thing thing. though. Persuasion is the key word here. new offer. Hopefully. long before customers feel that way. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. The Next Big Thing Thing. in the mass. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. persuaded. not to say a “take-away” or two.As a storyteller.14 I’m conscious. prosumers. however. cajoled. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. Worse. They increase output. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. it is matched forthwith. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. new product. then. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever.
since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. free gifts.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. 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. 2010. The Observer. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. 31. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. Campaign. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. “Crocodile” Dundee. 2010
Notes and References 1. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. targeting the child within is no bad thing. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. Thomas the Tank Engine). However. Strictly speaking. 2. 23 May. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot.
. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. Richard the Lionheart). 4. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. see Matt Williams. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. p. Donald Duck). especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. is not to be sneezed at. 3. 2010. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Thumper. “Money”. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. as was the dismayed £ sign. p. Reduced availability increases desire. nostalgia-prone world. But don’t take my word for it. “reification”. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. Childishness. Zoomorphism is the opposite. Dumbo.make the products more readily available. 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. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. Christine.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. likewise. 4 June. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. there’s one other issue. the brand may benefit in the long term. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. as academics like me are inclined to do. for instance). Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. Oh yeah.
The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. for example. don’t be ugly…be cute”. 24 (3). See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. 1992). London. pp. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. insipid. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. “Smarter than you think”. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. They fail to appreciate that conflict. Incidentally. 11. 2007). are second to none. soporific and so forth. The Observer. 9. 1998. 23 May. the character may well go global in due course. it’s not completely inaccurate either. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. Naturally. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. 17 January.
. 6. London. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. p. Journal of Consumer Research. 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. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. The companies acts. 10. Kennedy. Cambridge. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. by all accounts. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. This book.4. 13. London. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. 5. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. 15. 2010. the key statement is John S. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. 2008) and Tony Thorne. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. London. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. London. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. updated edition (Sage. 7. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. According to Morgan Trimble. 12. It’s full of animal errors. Richard Conniff. They are bland at best and boring at worst. New York. See. Images of Organization. 2010. 343-373. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. 14. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. Lions. John Berger. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. Needless to say. The Sunday Times. 19. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. stories are on the up and up. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. “If you want to survive. Oxford. 1993). “Scientists are people too. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. 2005). 2005). Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. 8. 215). 14. nevertheless. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. 2006). Gareth Morgan. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. 2009). p. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. BTW.
though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread.16. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods. sugar and so on). The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. bottled water.
. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. etc. salt.).
The Penguin’s Progress
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel
“Hmmm. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. berets. “It’s a Silo & Roy. one-piece costumes. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium.” she said. figure-hugging. She needn’t have bothered. Fashion. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. Bella Adélie shook her head. She had more important things on her mind. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. and craned anxiously over her shoulder.” Exasperated. The fad started innocently enough. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule.” The tease worked. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. Not only were they completely unnecessary. a joint venture with Versace. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. “Pelican pink is so this season. She twisted and turned. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief.” Paris pouted. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. was almost as well known as
. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. beakaplasty. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures.Chapter One
Where the Wild Brands Are
“Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. struggling to keep her face straight. “I’m not sure pink suits you. Paris. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. you know. “Seriously. what do you think? Am I way cool. The S&R logo. Pounds too. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. hot to trot. gloves. bending this way and that. for one. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. Silo and Roy.
she twirled.” Bella mumbled. But Bella knew better. Mmmmm. “With your genes. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. simpered. She adored McDonald’s.” Paris warned. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. The sea was calm. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. You should try some of this.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips.Armani’s stylised eagle. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. For all her selfabsorption. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. An egomaniac. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. I’m lovin it.” She said it without thinking. Paris. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. admiring her outfit. “I’m sorry. in truth. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. the temperature hovered around freezing. yet others complained. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. the sky was blue. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. crunchy crustaceans. she was a bit roomy at the rear. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. It’s delish. whirled. the wind was light. “Mmmmm. others contended. Bella. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. Bella. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. some said. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. as she so often did. darling. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. a spoiled rich kid. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or
. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. you should be more careful. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. Consequently. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. and share a McFlurry with the great man. Or several. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. which was tantamount to tropical. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. smiled.” Bella replied lightly. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity.” Paris stuttered. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. kicked up a heel. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. A sob stuck in her crop.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. iPods to dolphins.
“Come here immediately. I trust. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early.” “What. like hedge-hopping rainbows. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. fast later. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. followed by the International House of Fishcakes.”
. Except that pink was now in. flicking open the Happy Meal container.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. her uniqueness. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s.” Bella commanded. “Don’t be a silly billy. “Get this down your gullet. Darling. Be honest. But Paris declined. Penguin porn degrades our species. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. Paris. if she was related to a leopard seal.” Paris exploded with laughter. Gastric band. her gene pool. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest. Right now. They’re making another Madagascar movie. You’re coming with me to the food court.asked. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. black and more black. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. where elephant seal pups frolicked. flipper on hip. Cerise was chichi.” “Oh goodie.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. Bella. Okay. bar none. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. much better than black. “What do you reckon?” she called. I won’t take no for an answer. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. A gift? Tiffany. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. I’ve got something for you. Paris wiped her eyes. starve now. She did. in fact. On the contrary. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. surely you know that.” Bella said. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. “Okay. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. They looked delicious.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. 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. sniggering. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. Brown was the new black. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. Bella. Clearly. admittedly. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. “No can do. Casting next week. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. posing provocatively. Paris. “Here. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring.
” “Well. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped.” “No. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway. oblivious to the threat. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. Her face was a frozen mask. maybe?” “Um. “Grrrrrrrr. right?” “Le Tigre. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. She turned to her companion on shore. wiggling her tail feathers with glee.” Bella knew very well. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. Penguinapping is commonplace.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. She got to the end and surveyed the scene.” Filling up. “I always carry one. never mind “this’ll do fine”. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. I’ll be fine. Grrrrr. Bella. “Tell you what. They’ve been performing since incubation. apparently. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind.” “Whatever you say.” the soon-to-be superstar said. “Grrr. She knew that the part was hers. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. Bella mused.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. 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. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. as was the polar predator’s wont. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines. Paris hugged her mottled companion. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. as anyone would. Panic stricken. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. you know how it is in showbiz. if not before.” “Grrrr.“And the drastic gastric band. The role’s already in the bag. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism.” Paris doth protest too much. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. just in case.” she said with an apologetic smirk. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. hoping against hope that
. “It won’t take long. tossed her up into the air.” Bella shouted back. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway.
Bella took a closer look. Bella wept. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. To die for.
. Aghast. Bloodstained.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. Tearful. Ripped. her designer pride and joy. indeed. There was no sign of life. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. she fished the outfit out. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. bitten and bloody. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. Sodden. A dismembered limb.
BrandLand was truly beautiful. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. Blamed. Oddly. There were knots of kings. clusters of chinstraps. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. where she paused to catch her breath. hushed. Stifling a sob. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. In more ways than one. With a heavy heart. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. overcome with grief. Distraught. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. bands of blackfoots. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. nevertheless. the agglomeration was completely silent. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. weeping all the while. No parent. perhaps. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. penguins of every imaginable breed. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. expectant. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. Gentoos. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. the views were spectacular. as everyone knows. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. stumbled toward the shoreline. species and stripe. she clambered up the ice steps. onto its snow-strewn top. What else could she do? It was her duty. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. A microphone screeched. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the
. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. in the lee of the LG glacier. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. like stones across a millpond. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. Reported to the penguin police force. Picking up speed as they descended. The sun was stronger. belching. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. more likely. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. bellowing elephant seals. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. She threw the abomination over her flipper and.Chapter Two
The Pied Penguin
The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. and emerged huffing and puffing.
A round of applause rolled up from the audience. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. His crest. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. 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. Curiously. Her presence was not appreciated. S&R. They couldn’t be trusted. bitch. Not now. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. Her rate of progress improved immediately. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute.multitudes. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. 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. “Nice outfit. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such
. blubbery macaroni. cheating layabouts. bloated. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. the sapphire-studded collar. lying. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. Until the crowd closed up. Although she was well used to hostility.. BrandLand. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. Hesitantly.. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. It was magnificent. as the star took to the stage. Lookin’ good. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. “is Dr Dogeatdog. “This. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. though. the carefully clipped pelt. Not never. some bristled their feathers.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. Devils in disguise. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. A few snooty royals turned to attack. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. double-dealing. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. who were no-good. she had no alternative. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. nodding their approval. husky or not. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. As the long way round would have taken forever. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation.
Out. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. The kings kept their own council. Out. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. on account of the drastic economic recession. Shouts of “ACME.” Screeches of feedback. the legendary Mr Kipling. Out. Out. Penguins are out of fashion. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations.” The uproar was indescribable. Emperors exploded in anger. overstretched. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. has concluded that a cull is called for. Whatever happened. ACME. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. Worse was to come from the canine. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. to be precise. and that’s saying something. Penguins have jumped the shark. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. Out. “ACME. The bubble of blarney. oversold. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. A 10% cull. The penguin brand is overexposed. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. Out. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. the worst in living memory. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. in other words. bluster. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long
. Over. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe.” Dogeatdog reported. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. “Six weeks ago. ACME. blether. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. ACME. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. Charlie the Tuna. ACME’s chief executive. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. Penguins have saturated the market. they’d be okay. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. Worse. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. ACME. ACME. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. however.
their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies.” The big screen went blank. However. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. It was a done deal. if the least high profile. his raddled face set in serious mien. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. his voice a low-throated rumble. no penguin gain. We’ve got to get back to basics.” 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. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. We’ve got to face facts.” he began. There were no dissenting voices. He announced that his own macaronis. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. “the last few years have been good for us. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. as the order’s most overexposed species. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. The decision is yours. The multitude fell silent once more. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. Why would there be?
.term. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. even more extreme measures may prove necessary.” Le Penguin croaked. They know what needs to be done. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders.” Ever the showman. He reported that the emperors. We’ve cornered the mascot market. by far the most populous penguin species. “Fellow penguins. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. No. a blessing in disguise. No penguin pain. Indeed. Good day to you all. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. chinstraps and gentoos. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. he paused for effect. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. No. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. “Brothers and sisters. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type.
humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. Digging in her heels made no difference. She had to warn them. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. She had to do something. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. Paris’s parents would have to wait. it came pretty close. their marvellously mottled appearance. with murder in mind. anything. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. She didn’t like heights at the best of times and dropping from a very great height at very high speed was her very worst nightmare. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. pitch-black ice tunnel. Bella jumped feet first into the void. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. The rookery nook. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. Bella was falling behind.Chapter Three
Bella’s first thought was for her parents. she closed
. they’d taken pride in their otherness. Bella stared into the chasm. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. Petrified. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. rockhoppers. their difference. however. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. 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. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. The superslick surface. it was a death trap. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. There was no time to waste. There was only one thing for it. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. On the contrary. Her parents were dead meat. was almost entirely frictionless. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. breathing heavily. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins.
Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. Excitedly. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. was ripped to shreds. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. it wasn’t a wall. And failed. Our Flipper. hunched behind a boulder. disturbed the eerie silence. skimming. you slimy son of a sheathbill. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. probably. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. she advanced toward the creature. though. close to her parents’ nest. Luckily. Ffft. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. A petrel. A dirty rotten rat. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. in the community’s communal crèche. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. backing it into a corner. The wetsuit. possibly. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. she clambered over the rocky detritus. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. It stopped. They’d been taken away and taken out. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left.”
. Ffft. yet with a mounting sense of dread. Fffft. Ffffft. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. Bella cried out. Fffft. Some nests were still warm. Anguished. They’d been rounded up already. It was completely devoid of life. She didn’t know which way to turn. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. licking his lips. Then started again. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. Something was moving. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. but a great divide in the path. She screeched and tried to stop. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. “I’ve got you now. most likely. A crab. deserted. Ffffffft. panting with exhaustion. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. Flippers fully extended. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. Then stopped. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. She opened her eyes fractionally. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. carooming. A large leopard seal loomed before her. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. twitching. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove.
I am the face of a price comparison website. a radio talk-show compère.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. 32. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. you disgusting wetback. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. Taken aback. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. Towering head and shoulders above her.000 Facebook friends. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. “I haven’t finished with you yet.000 Twitter followers and 3. elbow up – then casually blew a cloud of noxious smoke in the face of his would-be assailant. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. “You. You are feeling sleepy. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. my dear. you understand.” he drawled. sharp-faced. The Russian steppes are thataway. bless his cotton candy socks.” Bella was baffled. Not in a good way. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. at your service. London’s over there somewhere. Sleepy. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. dragging deeply. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression. “Modesty forbids.6 million hits on my homepage. Sleepy. Very. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. “Sleepy. the slender-torsoed.” the penguin snarled. of course. trying her best to appear menacing. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. We know a
. I don’t know who you are.Astonishingly. the proud possessor of 600.” “Oh. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. Very.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. Orlov sucked on his cigarette.” Orlov said. “Aleksandr Orlov. I think you have. but I am big in Britain and Russia and. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year.” he drawled. With a so-what show of indifference. My catchphrase is Simples. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. “How dare you address me like that. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. all things considered. erect-eared. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren.” “Simples?” “Simples.” he sighed.” Bella was at a loss.
surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary.” “I see. as if taking in the cave for the first time. “He was a sort of soft toy. He looked around. not to say subliminal advertising. It’s a life-long learning.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. “Sorry. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. But I prefer not to mix with the. We meerkats are social animals. 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. where she’d left it. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach.” He winked. she was first in line for the chop.thing or two about hypnotism. I’m looking for someone. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. a sock puppet. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. um. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. 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.” Bella shook her head. much less dun-coloured rodents. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. They’re here. he dropped off the grid. “since you put it like that. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. right beside the isabelline refuge. Flat Eric’s been there. Enormous name recognition. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. As the only mottled penguin in residence. “I don’t think so. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. However. They looked resolute.” But Bella beat him to it. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. “Well. avian classes. “Flat Eric. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. “Simples. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. Hit singles. perhaps we could pool our resources.” Bella started to step aside. Nor did Orlov.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. Advertising awards. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME.” “Mmmmm. ripped and ragged. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave.” With a glottal gabble. The S&R wetsuit lay. Not so Simples now. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. “Too late.” He made to go. if you must know. Two species are better than one. “Suit yourself. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. meerkat. He knows the score. she blocked his path.” he said.
.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. Flippers on hips.
searching for the ice. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. She could hear them discussing their strategy. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. “Meerkats. as he excavated ever-faster. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. Bella snuggled in behind him and. they said. The old enmities are behind us. who stopped again. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. scampering. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. There was no escape. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. And bickering amongst themselves.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. you flat-footed fool. I can’t believe it’s not butter. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft.
. Orlov seized the moment. suspecting a trap. mercifully. Indomitable. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. adélies are much more petite than emperors. She struggled to keep up. but nothing like it used to be. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. There’s still a bit of discrimination.and snow-filled shaft. clawing like crazy. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. don’t you know. ever-upward.Chapter Four
The Axe Man Cometh
The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. “Well. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. They paused at the mouth of the cave. blocking out the bright sunlight. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. Bella shook her head. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. he was off. although the fit was tight. There was no way those monsters could follow. uncompromising. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. “Let’s go. We didn’t think we needed it any more. stab. Their bulk. tear. Every second was precious. scurrying. determined.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs.” “Where to?” “The bolthole.
They never let anyone forget it. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. Or earshot. Their feet sank in with a hiss. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. he spluttered. not a penguin. “Forgive me. Stand-ins. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. Orlov said nothing. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. The reshoots were ridiculous. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. you know. not a shearwater in sight. digging. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began.” he observed. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. apparently. my dear. It must be adhered to rigorously. then it’s midnight through September. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. However. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. The man’s a slave driver.” Chastened for the moment. dashing forward. He fell into step beside Bella. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. Orlov scampered alongside. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. They had a lot of reshoots too. if you’ve had enough for one day. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into
. Pity. “dandies discard. dropping down on all fours. through the worst of the winter. “Impossible. even more gallantly. frankly. I’ll accompany you for a little while. They’re big girl’s blouses.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. claymation models. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. “Oh. “When danger calls.” With a heavy sigh. though. Enjoy the twilight while you can. Simples. They march for months on end. You have a lot in common. not a skua. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. blocking her path. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. but ACME is not on my agenda. My routine is sacrosanct. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. sitting up every so often – nose twitching.” Agitated. You’ll have a lot to talk about. body doubles. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. Gallantly.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. The snow squeaked as they walked. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. “The rookery’s thataway. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. The place was deserted. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. Orlov just kept digging. allegedly. darting back. The thin crust gave way from time to time.” Bella snorted. digging. digging. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. “Sundown?” she scoffed. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. They’re famous for it. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. sometime in the middle of April.
stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. A black dot was coming towards them. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. preventing further progress. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. “It was because it didn’t work. the meerkat refused to budge. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. that’s what you are. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. Poleaxed. I think you’re my kind of penguin.” Orlov inveigled. so far from home. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. apart from a slight headache. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. He rose up on his hind legs.” “My paws were cold. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion.” Bella apologised. Smirking. “What’s that?” he said. But you didn’t believe me. Bravely. at your service. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. “The bear is completely under my power. On me. Bounding towards them at top speed. “Louis the Lynx. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. It was feline. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. perhaps. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. Orlov stopped suddenly. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day.” he purred.” Bella said. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt.” “The simples minded. that is. Let me know how you get on. A wild cat. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal.” Louis meowed throatily. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. “I like a bird with spirit. Minxes and lynxes
.” She made to move on.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. “Yes. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. You mocked the master. Astounded. Do you believe me now. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. Smaller than a snow leopard. they ploughed on. pointing into the distance. fast asleep. still with snow under the nails. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. bigger than a mangy moggy. sleepy. I’m out of here. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. It works on everyone. Let’s wake him. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. “I told you I could do it. Chins tucked in. “Explain yourself.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. snoring loudly. You’re a minx.
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
“And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. Lhasa Apsos and the like. You test the things on animals. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. with a grin. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. Anything after. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard.
. adélies. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. anyhow?” “Simples. Lurchers. the bigger and nastier the better. Anything before B he was unbeatable. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. lions that sing show tunes. crows that crack jokes. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. my dear boy.” Louis chuckled. “Correct. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went.” Orlov boasted. I read Wikipedia incessantly. I can see the campaign now. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. A sexy smelly shampoo.” Bella quipped. putting poor critters down. so selling to them is the next natural step. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. sensing a stay of Axecution. wildlife programmes in particular. “don’t knock it. moreover. extermination. Louis laughed out loud. as Neolithic cave art attests. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. When you put it like that. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. “How come you know so much about marketing. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. But she wasn’t quick enough. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. he was a busted flush. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. red. They make movies about mice that speak. desire. since Axe carries connotations of execution. hope. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. advertising. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. We’re built on a bubble of belief. Louis asked.” “Hey. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. a brand in a highly competitive market.” Orlov smiled. don’t you. Even his chortle was charming. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten.” Louis mused. Plus. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. moreover.” “Hmmmm. Ask yourself. Orlov lit up. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. “Anthropomorphism. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. not that there’s much else to admire. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. I’ve worked my way through all of the As.territories.
What wild accusations. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. Louis. The earth quaked. like a karaoke Krakatoa.” “You suggested no such thing. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. Bella felt sleepy.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about.” Orlov said testily. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Eyes drooping. perhaps.” he said. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. well. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. He thinks I’m the fox. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. I wanted to rouse it. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. Mmmmm. though. the Romanovs. Feathers?
. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey.” Orlov observed dryly.” Louis was at a loss. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. cruel culling. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. Has been for years and years. the hillock erupted. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. she looked around. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. A joint venture. With an almighty roar. He’s not best pleased. He’s been plagued for years by an annoying cartoon fox that’s trying to reclaim its own-name mints and depose the bear from its perch on top of the crystalline confectionary. I couldn’t shake him off.What do they put into their toiletries.” The group descended into grumpy silence. the moraine started moving. Bella and Louis said nothing. “Yes. Or a meow meow overdose. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. scratching occasionally. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. She tried to resist. understandably. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. “it was all a mistake. “Actually. she wondered. Penguins pong pretty bad. Bella wondered. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. You tried to run off. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. Their shelter. Or Freudian psychosis. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. His eyesight is not what it was.
then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. Ally of Aladdin. Companion to Marco Polo. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. as for Andersen.” the Roc crowed. “Three wishes.” “No. Bella chanced her arm. “Zat I can. “SoHo.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. He knew his Ali Baba too and. “I am Roc. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other. uh. rather. “How far can you take us.” “So. if it’s not out of your way. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. “We have three wishes. none of which are tested on ze animals. with a smirk. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. Lord of ze skies.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. no less. Hans Christian. s’il vous plait. they might even end up where they wanted to be. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. with poststructuralist precision. Having watched the negotiations in silence.” “Zat is impossible. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. Encouraged. “Well. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings.” Bristling. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously.” “Zat I am. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond.” Louis said. flapped them vigorously. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. “Zis is not BrandLand. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. while hopping from foot to foot. isn’t it?” he said. as well as Aesop. Unscented. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. “Zat is so. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD. 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. face creams. Zis
. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. “But this is BrandLand. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics.” the creature conceded. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie.” Gallic to its wingtips.” Orlov insisted. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. Everyone knows zat. it isn’t. Flipper. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner.” Bella added. Not only were they getting somewhere. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band.
a contiguous territory. as yet untouched by civilisation.is a mere dominion. “We’ll make our own way from there.” Orlov commanded.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. “is Adarctica. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding.” “D’Accord.”
.” he sniffed. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. Zis.
” “According to ancient myth and legend. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. eventually. A driving tail wind. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. Isabellines can’t be choosers. punctuated by clearly-defined territories.” “Yeah. “If it offers us a choice of seating. rising thermals. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. lake-dappled lowland. inviting. And then some. taking in the scene. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. captivating. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. aerobatics. Within a few minutes.Chapter Six
“Be careful. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie.
. The storm-tossed. Wings fully extended. then invited the threesome to mount. the bird-borne party was above the storm. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. Clinging on for grim life. Orlov. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. by contrast. don’t travel claw class. then took off vertically. never mind jumbo jets. With a low rumble of discontent. BrandLand. as her mother often observed. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. in all its magnificence. heading north. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. And we’re not talking Dumbos. he knew there was nothing to fear. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. lay spread-eagled beneath them. The meerkat glared at him. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. Having read up on aeronautics. Far from being dropped from a very great height.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. They dismounted shakily. Back-beating furiously. Beckoning. snow-capped mountain ranges. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. and advertisers don’t either. sat calmly.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. with a disbelieving look. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. the trio was taken by the scenic route. Many hours later. as its tagline proclaimed.” Louis said. into the eye of the snowstorm. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. it flapped once or twice.
The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. the stomping ground of Snap. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. “And we’re not on vacation. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street.” Bella snapped. The Roc refused to elaborate. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned.” Conciliatory though it was.” it said. swirling.” With that. “Steer clear of ze jungle. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. and make Mr Kipling see sense. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. disconcertingly. reportedly. then took to the air. penguin. Pop and similar elfish creatures.” “This isn’t a theme park.” Louis enthused.An acknowledged expert in domain names. “Am I free to go. wondering which territory to try first. We’ve only had one wish. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog.” the Roc said disdainfully. Our task is to get to Madhattan. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. the local authority. In the far distance. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. we might learn much along the way. We’ve two more to play with. pronto. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. We might learn much from big biomass brands. USA. The threesome looked up expectantly. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. 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. find ACME ASAP. the Lacoste crocodile.
. My contract is complete.” “Can’t you count. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. “A word of advice. PDQ. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. veri careful. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. surely. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. directly ahead. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone.” Orlov.” the big bird boomed. Be veri. One wish per passenger. Crackle. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans.
The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air.” A row erupted. the My Little Pony palominos. arrogance and absence of brand sense. interspersed with red-berried rowans. Orlov. Bella recognised some of the tunes. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. Each accused the other of ignorance. The air was noticeably warmer here. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. though. after being frozen in flight. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. steaming waterfalls. “I may be mistaken. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. And that’s her smiling flock. larch and juniper. A blissful. cedar. That’s what Paris once told me. a frisky Ferrari broke free. like an Alpine Shangri-la. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. joined the others on their high country hike. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade.” the meerkat said. tussock-strewn. Bella left them to it. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna.“The nerve of it.” Bella muttered. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. stream-silvered dell lay below her. making a vast grassy corral. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. “A Mars a day”. flakiest chocolate”. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. birch-fringed. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. Perplexed. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. plaidshirted. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. Jingles rather. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. She badly needed a breather. Especially for a penguin. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. Every so often. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. Louis scampered after her. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse.” “Cardboard cut-outs. she was too astounded to rest. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. Dangerous though it was. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously.
. Bella stumbled on several occasions. “Only the crumbliest. But when she crested the rise. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. “Hands that do dishes”. you twat.
Bella was buying. “Village people?” Louis echoed. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. “At your service. as were her awe-struck associates. “Don’t worry. Bella opted for a formal greeting. they’re not axe-murderers. Generously. was impressed.” The older cowboy. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. The advertising icon was bemused. Welcome to God’s own country. of course. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. There was no need to explain. Big Emphysema. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. with an anxious expression. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. ma’am. the wide.She signalled for the others to join her. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. Even Orlov. It bespoke Big Country. Big Brand Equity. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. Duke’s voice was deep.”
. Big Sky. where the village people would point them in the right direction. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. but paid city slickers no heed. where men are men. The bad folks don’t call me at all. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. tilted back his hat and grinned. Much as the trio loved the mountains. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. Apart from an occasional wheeze. I presume. Whatever he was selling. Big Satisfaction. The legend introduced his pardner. sonorous and compelling. no siree.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. Big Flavour. with only cows and cowpokes for company. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. wide west. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. He had heard of ACME. the bracing air. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. “Mr Marlboro. Agog. son. The good folks around here call me Duke. an urban cess pit was their priority. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. let alone love. not when there’s a lariat to hand.
Sure of a Big Surprise
“Yes. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. plus several infuriating false starts.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. never will. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. the Bon Ami chicken. If they started up “Macho Man”. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. he’d join in the chorus. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. And as for “In the Navy”. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. The rest is history. the cowboy archetype was adopted. 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. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. on account of the filter tip. Marlboro Country was invented and. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. But the tat was an accident. as did the manicured fields. Louis might have agreed with the rodent. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. As the party progressed down dale. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. of all things. As things stood.” Orlov stage whispered. “Though if anyone asks. “Never had. traffic cops. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. It was originally targeted at female smokers. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties.Chapter Seven
Farewell to Farms
For a famously unforthcoming brand icon.” In ordinary circumstances. of all things. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as
. might be more than even he could handle. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. round rivulet and through thicket. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. Modest to a fault. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. A camp camp containing red Indians. After a fraught brainstorming session. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan.
pruning shears. “Hmmph.” Bella said wryly. Then. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. as the company advanced into Hamlet.” Bella sighed. A pretty parish church. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. Smelt of chewing tobacco. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. He had a peri-peri in every port. 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. the Bull Durham bull. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. it added. “Wonder what’s eating them.” Louis observed. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. Swan matches and
. where Aflac ducks. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. it said. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. abandoning lawnmowers. with the Kid by his side. the Bisto gravy family. “What a guy. Hamlet half a mile.. which looked the worse for wear. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. wished them well in their quest for ACME. 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. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. to Louis’s annoyance. Coors Country and their high. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. mounting up. watering cans.the Anchor butter cows. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. overhanging eves. Ar-har. the everenergetic Red Bull. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. garden path. saloon bars.. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. However. wide and handsome cognates. garden hoses. arhar. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. He glared at his feline acquaintance. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. a time-worn market cross. redundantly. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. edge trimmers.
their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. Clarence. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. granite inglenook. wearing blue overalls. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big.” “Aye. Archie. They waited for a few minutes. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. stepped forward. if there’s naught else on tap. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. simple Sydney smiled shyly. Undaunted. “We’ve b-b-been…”
. The place was deserted. lad. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. a hogshead of mead. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. Nothing. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts.” she went on.” Bashful as ever. they followed him into the homely hostelry. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. the consummate cuppa-maker. lass. “are Sydney. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. “And you must be Maurice. my good fellow. a peppery little man with a self-important air. one with a sharp carving knife. “You’re Gordon. The usual array of barroom grotesques.” the curmudgeon grunted. or whatever it is they do down there. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. I’d recognise you anywhere. Still nothing. polished horse brasses. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. old chap. You look fantastic.” The tea folk tittered. however.” she continued. Penguins and Tetley go way back. Or best bitter. “You must be Gaffer.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. quacked and chirruped incontinently. slippers! – stood between them and the door.” Bella said. brass-banded pumps. The leader. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. All were empty. A line of local yokels. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. Or gassy lager. “And you. that were a long time ago. mine host. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust.” she concluded triumphantly. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. “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. as sheepish grins started to appear. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. “We prefer to work with Clubs. a firkin of gassy French lager. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. was unsettlingly absent.
. Tips people. Assholes. He met the T-birds once. “don’t only make tea bags make tea.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words.G. Because P.G. brand animals like us. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. as did Gordon with his andiron.G. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right.” “That’s torn it. brandishing their blunt instruments. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. “We’ve been on holiday. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. Lyons. then glared at his gang. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. Lipton. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. lad – but tha triangular bag was P.” Orlov whispered. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag.G.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. We liked the T-birds. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat.But he was cut off by Gaffer. A lot. “Tbirds were P. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. Lever lover? Menacingly. reminding them who’s boss.” he growled. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. lass. along with Brooke Bond.G. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight. Sydney shuffled his feet. “Tetley. Could put a word in for them. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. The tea folk advanced. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls. Tips. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. But. Psychosis is not uncommon. “Assam. yes.” Gaffer spat. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely. I suspect. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. P.” “Tannin poisoning. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. the T-birds. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. Tips is a Unilever brand.” Bella gulped audibly. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders.” Louis groaned.
” Orlov snarled. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. and arsehole begins with A. “Look. fighting on price. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. Far from the madding firs.Chapter Eight
Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree
Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. “It was nothing.” “No. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. poplar.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing.” “Yes. these were big trees.G. “It was brilliant. “Now push off the pair of you. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot.” Bella smiled modestly. you can bicker without me. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees.” Bella had said. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating. The air was chilly. The glory days of P. lime. deciduous trees. They’d have to stop soon.G. Coffee culture’s king. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. “The reason you didn’t know about it. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. insidiously. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. There’s nothing to choose between them.”
. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. like most FMCGs. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. Night was falling. After looking around and sniffing the air. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. a copycat called Tim Tam. unobtrusively. proper trees like hornbeam. unawares. heavy trees. “An old trick. elm. walnut. I’m amazed they fell for it. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. oak. They’ve reverted to commodities. fur bristling on the nape of his neck.” Louis finally said. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone.” Bella said.” Louis didn’t mince his words. beech. Tea brands are identical nowadays. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. Defeated. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P.” Orlov interrupted. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. ferret. Tea’s time is up. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. Tips. sycamore. A stroke of genius. you two. no. she decided it would do for the night. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. It tasted delicious too.
Watching the frolicking creatures. exhausted. Before long. with an irresistible
. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions.” Orlov added. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. when something caught her eye. Crackle and Pop. “there’s Snap. Not this one. And another. A figure was flitting through the trees. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. Keebler’s elves also showed up. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. but it was pleasant all the same. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. she surmised. Smiling. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. most likely. A singularly sultry rabbit. she was struck by the absence of bird song. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. Scania’s and Saab’s. the Unibank unicorn.” With a sigh of contentment. out and around the trees. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. pipits. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation.” Orlov said with atypical glee. “Look. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. flitting in. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. “Actually. Louis was in his element. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. The next day saw an early start. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. Vauxhall’s. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. Immediately adjacent to the path. the Trix rabbit. the Nesquik bunny. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance.Chastened. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. a fire was crackling in the glade and. only to disappear when anyone came too close. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. linnets and the like. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best.” Louis laughed. the Hartford elk. before evaporating into the undergrowth.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. the Kirin dragon. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. the Schnuffel rabbit. wearing a skintight yellow dress.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. for once. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead.” “I’m just glad they let us go. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. rotten logs. her parents. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. scrutinising the strangers. she offered a square to Louis. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. On picking herself up for the fifth time. In a most unladylike manner. only to find herself drifting off. looked over and waved affably. lay languidly beneath it. They made good progress through the forest. Swiftly followed by another. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. the Glenfiddich stag. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise.
” The lynx laughed in his face.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush.” she said. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark.” In normal circumstances. all growling. Must hide. Bravely. “Something smells good around here. Bella bided her time. “Arctophily. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. However. It paused for a second. Rrrrrrrrrrr. This doesn’t look good. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. A second bear followed. my. Quick. all hulking. “Don’t fall for it. actually. An unearthly hush descended.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. mainly nocturnal. And then some. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. Dark Temptation. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. “My. then a fourth. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. sensing Bella’s unease. Bella followed suit. then shuffled on. “Aeaea. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. Together. all ponderous. Rrrrrrrr. tongue hanging out. “No.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. she’s cursed. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. “Quick. and not a little need for nourishment. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. A for Argonauts.” “Yes. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. It’s a trick. sniffed the air. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. sotto voce. then a third. They hunched together biting their tongues. the oldest trick in the book. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. Daddy’s coming baby. However. Fancy a bite.” Bella butted in. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. peered around myopically. Get out of my way. I can see that. no. Quick. since you ask. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. famously omnivorous creatures. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. they don’t actually hibernate. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. “they’re solitary creatures too. “Let me guess.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside.” she smouldered. “What’s up?” Orlov asked.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret.” Orlov hissed. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. as if to reset her audio receptors.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. Bella. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. I’m doing him a favour. then a steady stream. they roused Louis who woke
. trying not to breathe. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. polecat. clicked his foreclaws. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. She’s Circe. Louis. A big brown bear lumbered past. which was still rustling. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. Well.
His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. The massacre was relentless. black bears. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around.” hers replied. friendly bears. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. the biggest jambearee. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. small bears. Paddington was a sitting duck. “We should be able to get away then. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. Yogi bear. Even Pudsey. was filling up with bears. At least they seemed civilised about it. begged on his knees for mercy. as were Pudsey bear. George. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Hamm’s beer bear. Carried back to the ice floe. BearPG rifles. SuperTed was also in attendance. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. Boo Boo bear. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. the Hofmeister bear. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. He died with his Wellington boots on. Bearzookas.
. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies.with a blissful smile on his face. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. Gulliver. Biffo the bear. cans included. Charmin paper towels bear. SuperTed. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. the bears burst into song. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. Paddington bear. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. Cresta lemonade bear. peeping out a knothole. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. the iconic US Forest Service bear. Only Gulliver. brown bears. firing indiscriminately. It was worse than bear baiting. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. “has left the building. Pipes were smoked. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. “Told you so. the easyJet bear. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. The dell. the easyJet bear. Bundaberg rum bear. Smokey. fierce bears. “The bear. They didn’t get very far. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. Big bears. inevitably. “Let’s get out of here. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. In fact. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. The fat bastard. whose charitable work is second to none. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. “They’ll be asleep before long. before a head shot finished him off. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”.” Orlov murmured.” Hiding in the wounded tree. meanwhile. Labatt’s blue bear. wasn’t spared by the assassins.” Pooh simpered. a snivelling wimp at heart.” his said. Larynges lubricated. Appallingly.
he sealed the fate of his comrades. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees. The dirty deed was done.showed any sense of self-preservation. A second troop of baby-faced. There was no sign of Winnie. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell. Supported by Charmin and Cresta. In so doing. They raised their weapons as one.
“Sounds like the brandshee to me. Great mark-ups. steadily. tears streaming down his ashen face.” Louis wept. such was the bloodletting. We talked joint ventures with them all. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead.” Orlov ordered. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. if only to work out what they were up against. Frantically. On returning to the path several hours later. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. A Lynx card range made sense. Night was falling. Cautiously.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. the better. They kept going. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. Very profitable business.” “Explain. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable.” Louis answered dully. They pushed on slowly. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. listening intently for any indication of military activity. frozen in its death throes. Led by Tatty Teddy. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut.Chapter Nine
Honey Still for Three?
The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. “Greeting cards. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. Hallmark’s main rival.
. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. Working together.” They knew she was right. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. failing to focus on the salient facts. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. the trio forged ahead. A chill was in the air. That’s the frightening thing.” Bella said. jolted out of his rambling account. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. “I know who did this.” Orlov said calmly. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. Heavy shadows fell across the path. “Greeting cards. you say?” “Yes. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. most with decades of distinguished service. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. stealthily. Suddenly. Me-to-You they’re called. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. But drew a blank. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. the baby-faced ones. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. sensible as ever. Bloodstains. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. man” before breathing his last. paw-prints. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. you see.” “Okay. “There’s nothing we can do here.” Louis groaned. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops.
” “Axeman’s welcome to it. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. full and ominous. above the sodden forest floor. It’s simples. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. Most have been axed ruthlessly. The path soon turned into a slough. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. Eyepet. The first brand character dates from 1877. Until the rain arrived. I don’t like the look of them. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. familiars.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. no. cold and cutting.” Louis said.” Bella was incredulous.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. They’re called Furries. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. They’re avatars. bath salts and what have you. Invizimals. Second Life players. Thousands of critters have been created since. They struggled along. which stopped them in their tracks. Country Story. never mind feline chat-up lines. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. They’re nothing to be afraid of.” Orlov answered with equanimity. often in the prime of life. “I think I know what this place is. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. They’re breakfast cereal characters. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. Never the best of hikers.” Louis said. “I know what they are. according to recent news reports. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. if anything – just that fetches. they opted for the latter. Surely some of them are still with us. At night. 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 moon eased out from the scudding clouds. “Potentially big market for personal care products.”
. deodorant. “Think about it. “That’s no phantasm. Pet Society. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. Orlov laughed. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. Bella was exhausted before long. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. slipping and sliding and slithering. sat a glowering gothic castle. with witching hour approaching. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. We have nothing to worry about. they made reasonable progress. teeth chattering.” “Looks pretty scary to me. High on a crag. They searched for shelter.” Louis said. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. But shelter found them.” he said.
Orlov was not convinced. The travellers looked at each other. nor were Piglet. Bella was too tired to care.
. the portcullis rose. Be careful what you say. “Now we know who we’re dealing with.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. After licking his lips with relish. Mummy”. Bizarrely. as the drawbridge fell. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. lined with oil paintings. Tigger. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. always on the creepy side of welcoming. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches.” the creature rasped. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. She had second thoughts. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. By then it was too late to retreat. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. But not the once and future Honey Monster. “Mummy. head tilted back. wondering what he was waiting for. however. much less amused. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family.” it shrieked. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. He looked enormously pleased with himself. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. “I’m waiting. spread out on a table before him. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. lances. shields. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. 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 latter included Dumbo. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. We didn’t see anything. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. “Tell them about the honey bunny. It’s Mummy. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. though. His cavernous smile. “Mummy. swords and stuffed animal heads. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw.” Louis ventured. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. Bagheera. was positively cadaverous. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. mead and beeswax markets. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. Mr Lynx. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight.
like himself. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. Walls have ears. as the reality of their situation hit home. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. it was the least he could do. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated.” Orlov hissed. So it proved on this occasion. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest. He doesn’t know what we know. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. so too slogans calm the savage brand. As if by magic.Shaken to the core. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. The next morning. Just as music calms the savage breast. we’re history. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. “There’s no honey in Penguins.” she murmured. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM.” “Lucky for us. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. Doom was unaccountably delayed.” Orlov said. “Tell them about the honey. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. pausing to point out the bee laboratory.” Bella was not amused. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. Let’s keep it that way. mummy!” they shouted in unison. he showed the threesome around his stately home.” She looked at Orlov coldly. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears.” “Keep your voices down.” Bella gloomed. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising
. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. As every brand manager knows. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. Otherwise. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. “It’s simples. “Or he’ll overhear us. Apparently. hence the bee laboratories. “All together now. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. after breakfast. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. psychological or otherwise.” “We’re doomed.” Louis chipped in. we’ll never get to ACME.
innocently. “I thought honey was a natural laxative.
.” Orlov observed. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting. “Not that kind of pooh. without smiling.Character Mediation Enterprise.” the Honey Monster said.
I’ll Take Madhattan
The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. sleek and in perfect physical condition. “Don’t be afraid. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. though. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. the brand band exchanged wary glances. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. strapped them in securely and. stood before them wagging its tail. They should buy us some time. golden. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. dodging. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. leaping. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. fences. A perfect day was in prospect. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. offering little by way of illumination. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. A gigantic silver Greyhound. raising its paws and barking excitedly. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. glorious. All of a sudden. Luckily. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody.” Orlov reassured his companions. gratifying. tree stumps. saplings.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. air-conditioned cabin. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. where it charged between the trees. railings. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. Increasingly alarmed. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. Bella. What there was. Peanuts. circling steeply upwards. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. rivulets. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. There was no sign of Cerberus. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. The growling stopped.” Legend the unicorn announced. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear.Chapter Ten
The Sound of One Paw Clapping
The growling got louder as they descended. was pretty impressive. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. It was replaced by frantic barking. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. bounding over fallen logs. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. while straining on its leash. long. giving way to the rich arable farmland
. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest.
Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. amongst many others. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. if not quite the bees’ knees. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. their mode of conveyance was. the Natural History Museum.” Squelched. Wolfmother. Then we can foxtrot. Market leader in Britain he may have been. Pet Shop Boys. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). infuriated by his insensitivity. Literally. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. pleasure later. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. Fleet Foxes.
. Danger Mouse. Noah and the Whale. “Business first.” Bella noted. Snoop Dogg. The line up included Gorillaz. “I thought they’d broken up. Hardly panting at all from its exertions.” “Maybe we should check it out. rubbing salt into the wound. Whitesnake. better yet. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. Followed by Flat Eric. Doves. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. Mastodon. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. Seal. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. Seven minutes later. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. 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. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. Sheryl Crow. Scorpions. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement.” Louis said casually. FAO Schwarz. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. Eventually. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. Bat for Lashes. the new Eagles.” Orlov added. “ACME is top of our agenda. Louis sulked. As ever. bunny hop.” Bella gasped. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. Wild Beasts. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. Before long. An open air charity concert. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. “Must be a homing greyhound. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. Glinting on the horizon. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. before dashing off again in the direction it came. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Grizzly Bear. Orlov snorted. pointing at the billboard. Central Park Zoo.
“I think I know what’s happening here. yakking. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. “The real world is breaking through. perhaps.”
. Oh. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. Horribly disfigured. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. dirty. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. was nowhere to be seen. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. But survivors all the same. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. 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. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. Surely everyone knows that. A chill wind whistled in from the east. though. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. If we go. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. devoid of hope and authenticity. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. Squeeze This.” Bella said. squalid. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them.” “Why are there no humans. The human world is a horrible place. Marketing gives it meaning. yelling at one another. Mutant maybe. indicated that the place was operational. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. in as cutting a way as he could manage. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. druggies. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly.” he said. as if a performance was about to begin. just like you said. That’s what I think. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. I’m sorry. many of which strobed intermittently. shoving. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. Aleksandr. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. they go. security guards. while stuffing their faces with fast food. caught in the inter-building eddies. “But surely. panhandlers. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. as they advanced towards Timex Square. buskers. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. you never got as far as B. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. animal brands especially. Forty-second Street was equally empty. hookers.
a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. Then another. off.” “Gotcha. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. off. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey.” Orlov took off.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. Monkey from Sky TV. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail.” Louis gasped.” Louis said. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. spend. stunned by the update. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. “Bloody Hellman’s.
. horse-mounted traffic cops. it went on. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy.” Orlov exclaimed. then get the Dell out of here. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron. an irresistible urge to spend. the Dulux sheepdog. 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. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. “Well. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. unwelcoming place. Timex Square was an empty.com critter. “Holy Doughboy. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. it stated. Another followed. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. 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. “Well. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. spend. Luckily. Led by Cheeka.” Bella groaned. it added. lynx and meerkat in their midst.
Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. ferret.” Orlov was fit to be tied. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. look round again manner. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. Orlov backed down. The meerkat glared at them both. Smirking. Growling. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. “No signal. look right. It was a brand free zone. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude.” Impatient as always. Having stared the meerkat out. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. getting more infuriated by the second. Louis looked down at him. Patrolling down 42nd Street. But Louis cut him off. Quick. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. drop down. “Wait for us.”
. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. Even in Madhattan. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle.” Louis snapped. “Let me handle this. “For your information.” he said curtly. no doubt. breathing heavily. eyes locked.” Infuriated. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. Scampering ahead in his stop. Louis turned to Bella. Bella looked at Louis. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. “Calm down. We don’t have much time. while they were in mortal danger. “What’s the address? Quick. flapping idly in the breeze. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden.Chapter Eleven
Old McDonald had a Brand
They say you can take a meerkat out of the Kalahari but not the Kalahari out of a meerkat. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. ready for fisticuffs. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. start. stand up. They stood snout to snout. The fashion week tents were still standing. 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. followed by “Louis. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. look left. I thought you’d been here before” strop. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse.
We’re off to see the wizard of ads. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. Critters he called them. The stress of the quest. Nothing. originality disappears. The building was just a couple of blocks away. officiating bodies like ACME. publicity. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. in a downtown direction. As included. “I don’t believe it.” “That was all accountancy bullshit.” He switched off his iPaw. He was a Panther man himself. feeling edgier by the second. “World Wide Webster. Rrrrrrrrr. “It doesn’t say. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. research. innovation follows. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. Monkey. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. Something or someone was watching them. “Just get Google. “designed to justify cost cutting. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite.” Bella had no time for legends. Adidas. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. He’s barking up the wrong office block. It was her imagination. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. creativity evaporates. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station.” The connection took forever. The Young and Rubicund building. “Look. The brand stayed in the west – Nike.” “What?” Bella retorted. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. Panther. Racoon. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. Bella made to follow. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. 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. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. down-sizing. design. Once production goes. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save
. “It’s number 285. She was sure of it. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt.” Louis sighed. will you.” The meerkat was off like a shot. “Let him go. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. the brains behind the Smash Martians. Louis held her back. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. not to say incredulity. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett.” Bella moaned. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. believe me. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. He’d clicked through from Google Street View.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. did you?” Bella shouted. Camel.” “Read that in Wikipedia.
After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. Aleksandr. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. Hard sellers hate whimsy. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. stiff and straining in the breeze. a bit like The Sopranos. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. He had a theory. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. With a heave. they strolled down to 285. the Russian emerged from the elevator. a strop and sulk situation. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters.” Far from being crestfallen. arm in arm. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. extremely agitated. he looked around. Yes. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. “Yes. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. Exactly. only with account managers and art directors. The curt note on the door. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes.” Louis let her vent. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. A couple of minutes later. let alone embarrassed. They especially hate cute critters. mouth agape. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. as did his equally dumbfounded
. There was no brand war. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. jingles. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. bothered. It too was devoid of life. subtlety. their Old Glories unfurled. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things.” “Oh. advertising characters. “Corleone the copywriter. They passed a Starbucks. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. isabellines especially. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. The locked ACME offices. brand mascots. The big city was distorting his thinking. Orlov missed the sarcasm. though that may have been the art directors’ department. Startled. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. all disconcertingly empty.” Louis said laconically. Nodding enthusiastically. The whole place was completely empty. “We know.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak.us the journey. reason-why. The wreckage all around. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. A conspiracy theory. Bella refused to take the bet. hot. Although they look laid back.” Louis yawned. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. no winners or losers. Fearing another tantrum. Chuckling. The vacated Y&R floors.
thump. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. however. Eyes glassy and unseeing. then charged at the barrier together. Almost. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. Without pausing to dust themselves down. He pushed again. It was locked. and pushed on the side door. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. Then a fourth.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories.” Louis yelled. jumping to his feet.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. Nada.” Bella urged. thump.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. Louis lost the head. thump. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. out. the zombie was momentarily confused. An earsplitting alarm went off. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. Frantic. thump. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. Arms outstretched. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. Then a third. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. “Lucky I checked out the building. the latter sprinting on all fours. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. the three of them backed up several paces. Its catatonic associates followed suit. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. round. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. Bella and Louis did likewise. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. It suddenly shattered.
. like a fire tender on emergency call. “lock the revolving door. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. There was no time to lose. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. The door burst open. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. Glancing round as he ran. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. A crack appeared in the pane. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. then another. They picked themselves up. the former sliding on the marble. then went berserk trying to batter its way in.companions. The alarm alerted the undead. “Quick. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. 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. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. Caught betwixt and between. thump.” he added. Thump. Nothing. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. thump. Thump. They spilled into the street. then another.
With no realistic alternative.But the quarry was too quick for them. They’re wusses. where they paused to catch their collective breath. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. This way. “I think there’s a food court in that place.” Bella said. “Let’s stand and fight. No surrender. 40th
. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. They’re milkshakes. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. with an unrepeatable oath. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. “No. Bella. no. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue.” Orlov said to himself. This way. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. in the direction of Brand Central Station.” He galloped up Park Avenue. They’re softies. “We’re trapped. as he scampered after his brothers in brand.
“I can swim for hours. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line. “Stitch.” “Yes. 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.” Wiping her eyes. “I’m starving after all that exercise. “A good brand is hard to find. face contorted in agony. Sniggering to start.000 passengers per day. those McTofus are really something. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks.” she added. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. “I think we’ve lost them.” Orlov empathised. But my sprinting’s not so good. you know. As Bella. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes.Chapter Twelve
Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls.” he conceded. the lynx tried to sympathise. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. winking at the other half of his double act. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. “Different muscle groups.” Louis laughed.” Suppressing a smile. “Okay guys.” he commiserated. grinning. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. Rrrrrrrr. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth.” Orlov said. Too worked up to worry. holding her side. No bother. right Louis?” “Right.” Bella deadpanned. But none of them are McDonald’s. “Lynxes excepted. by way of explanation. “Don’t bet on it. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies.” Orlov said. which ordinarily copes with 150. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains. He won’t be there anyway.” Unabashed. “But downtown’s not a good move. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. albeit with difficulty. gasping for breath.” Louis continued. “That’s where Flat Eric lives.” Bella panted. “Yes. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days. looking anxiously behind them. “How can you be so sure?”
. Giggling.” The meerkat cracked up. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. “Never meet your heroes.
” She looked from one drained friend to the other. If not quite melting. ACME. Inside a smelting plant. The place felt like an oven. Bella’s obsession with ACME. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction.” he said. peeping outside. “All of which are moot. “ACME’s our priority. trying to make the peace. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. Hot sun. Bella awoke with a start. swivelling his head this way and that. Things’ll be clearer then. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. as they tried to get their bearings. It’s relocated to India. Aleksandr. We need to make our way to JWT Airport.” Understandably perhaps. decisions. Settled in their seats. decisions. was made for them. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. she shook her still-slumbering companions.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. It’s well uptown. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. as he pressed his face against the window. 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.” “Decisions.” The meerkat hesitated.”
. because there’s no public transportation. “We’ve had a very trying day. Boiling sun. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant.” the lynx said.” Bella said. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. He looked around in that ever-wary way. though.” Louis croaked. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. Then Orlov followed suit. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. We should be safe there. And tasted like it too. Inside a greenhouse. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. “I’m heading for SoHo. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. “Looks like Coney Island. ACME. On Mercury. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. “If that’s where we decide to go. the one that does international flights. exhaustion soon caught up with them. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy.” Louis sighed. as it happened. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. Louis?” “It’s getting late. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. Have you?” The decision. “Coming with me. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. the moment of light relief forgotten. “We must have missed our stop. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. just as the doors were closing. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT.
. most of which were counterfeit. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. The barflies hung on his every word. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. far away. be gone. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. beckoned from the other. Whatever their phylum. the monocled. an imposter. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. Bertie Bassett. boys. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. It was hotter outside than in. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. Far Away. Gathering their wits. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. Mine host. flat-roofed and ogee arched. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. in short. The heat was fearsome. a fraud.” Orlov remarked. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. and how Mr Peanut. Botanic Gardens too. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. it said. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. The Birds Custard bluebird. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. Bella wished she was far. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. Onlookers.“Not a problem. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. when brand icons were dapper men about town. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. Gasping for a drink. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. dune piled upon dune. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. Unselfconsciously. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing.” Bella struggled to speak. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. Much as he loved dry heat. Welcome to Mirage. Bella stood in the doorway. held court behind the bar. not only looked inviting. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. was a poseur. piled upon dune. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. We’ll be safe among the carousels. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. twisting and turning. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage.” Too parched to say anything. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. Except that they weren’t flies. Self-respect be damned. Mercifully. as best they could.” Orlov rasped. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. top-hatted. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. The door hissed open. Grill and Waterhole. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. ghost trains and roller coasters.
Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. the lusty lummox. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. Smirking. “This is the last brand saloon.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. never mind “Fireflies”. Brusquely. A poultry matter. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. We’ve got to get out of here. Bella and Louis supped up.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. Unconcerned. Orlov persisted. Panicking. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. No matter. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. Louis was collared by the meerkat. Famous Grouse. consisting of Wild Turkey. The lynx hadn’t. Dropped. just as the stork’s set was finishing. “Hound Dog”. spokescreatures sold into bondage. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. All axed by their advertising agencies. he didn’t give a 4X. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. Grey Goose. much to his annoyance. The Beatles. A hen party.” “Right. No sign of Owl City. Meerkat mambo. Lapsed. the audience roared. The Monkees. The Animals. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. Orlov didn’t join in. was in seventh heaven.” Undeterred. let alone an LAX. Louis. nor did he want to know right now. History.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. Adam and the Ants. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. Monkey Business and more. spokespenguins held to ransom. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. the proper name for the peanut family. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. We’re in Brandablanca. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. Howlin Wolf. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. for eucalyptus. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. Horse Feathers. “Chicken feed. a sure-fire floor filler. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. followed by “Wild Thing”. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. Louis didn’t
. Meanwhile. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade.” “It’s mambo.
He’s on his death bed. There was no sign of Bella. deep in thought. trying to get to Hamlet. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. either. then.” “Excellent.want to know. No sign of her there.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. “Okay. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. having a cigarette.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness. apparently.” “Let’s get going. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. the CEO is.” “Don’t tell me.” she said. It wasn’t so funny the second time. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. I need something to calm me down. then. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. standing in the shade. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily. a Happy Meal.” “Exactly. trying to hide his relief.” “I don’t.”
. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. However. “What’s up.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. He slipped into the backstage area.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries. Bella was outside. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books. Releasing his grip. doc?” Bella forced a smile. though never rising above ill-at-ease. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country.” Bella nodded. He made his way to the restrooms. “I didn’t know you smoked. Orlov gave up on the lynx. They’re in transit.” the abstemious meerkat said.
” Bella asked anxiously. He paused to get his bearings. Louis wasn’t in the same league. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Ali Bottega Veneta. Bella was impressed. The lynx didn’t care. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. they returned to the bar. Ali Boden. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. A mere man. Orlov made for the door. awimoway. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. was also quite striking. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager
. They explained the situation to him again.” Orlov answered. Ali Brioni.Chapter Thirteen
Mista Kipling. a stylised scarab in a circle. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. As a feline of sorts. Reluctantly. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. They shoved him aside. more emphatically than before. laying out his wares as he talked. carvings. He still didn’t want to know. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. Pelican and Penguin. They explained the situation to him. spices. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. Louis was on the dancefloor. he refused to let go. shouting over the music. “Do you think he’ll be all right.” Bella wasn’t reassured. Unconcerned. awimoway. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. The meerkat was much less impressed. Irate. Ali Balenciaga. “He’ll be there when we get back. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. despite her desire to depart. sweetmeats. Ali Bally. “I’ll be back. Awimoway. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. fashion designer to the stars. carpets. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. He didn’t want to know. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. He Dead
Decision made. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. He introduced himself as Mustapha. Talking all the while. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. Mustapha cut his prices even more. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. So they left him to it. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore.” Bella promised. Ali Burberry. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. His logo. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies.
Orlov didn’t. detached. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary. Mr Midden said that was a very. Orlov accepted. Orlov offered him a Lark. plus provisions for their journey. “Whoops. Joe called a halt. very bad idea. down dune. dragging deeply. good fun. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze.” Bella said beneath her breath. Instead. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. Bella decided. “So much for kat-nav. stood between them and the same sand sea. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. Breath like a brazier. Must be the other way. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. Eventually. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. they’re a delight. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. Harrier jets. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. But business was business. Bella waved back.merchants. indifferent to everyone around him.” he decided. he explained with a bronchial cough. Only a palm-fringed oasis. a disgrace. looking down on all he surveyed. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate.
. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. blowing smoke rings. “This way. eyelids narrowed. He looked supercool too – haughty. The shit of the desert set off. very. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. They were worrying animal omens. Unwisely. up dune. He offered one to Orlov. 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. grumbling and griping all the while. Brands come. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. past thorn-bush. Way too hot to argue. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. hoping to bond with the brute. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. brands go. She told the beetle of their intentions. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit.” Orlov apologised. as a peacemaker. This way was the wrong way. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. good-for-nothing. through tamarisk thickets. nostrils flared. There was no sign of the subway station. Even in the searing heat of the desert. “sorry about that. Puma helicopters.” He plunged back into the casbah and. It was Joe Camel himself. The old lungs weren’t what they were. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. they’re hot. Joe was undeniably cool. Still no sign of a subway. head aloft. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. after much pushing and shoving. they’re not. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. Careless squawk costs lives. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. Scorpion armoured vehicles. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. emerged on the other side. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. A dung beetle barred their way. populated by belching braying camels.
” The meerkat looked from one to the other. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. Bella nodded appreciatively. “Looks innocent enough. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. Bella. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh.” “Ciao. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. It was a refuge. It was all too much. She could taste him. Supporting each other. “Take care of Louis for me. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. Rumours. Joe shrugged. to put it mildly. undecided. “I can carry you the rest of the way. if you want. Customers are fickle.” He indicated with his hoof. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. as they approached the adobe gatehouse.” “That’s true. I’m an icon. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. You know how it is.” she shouted over her shoulder. “Your funeral.bad influence. his sang-froid abandoned. she wept for her dead mummy. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. Sorry. style’s forever. a benison. having decided what to do. The Maytag repair man. dead daddy.
.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. Bella hobbled on. Fashion changes. Five minutes later. “I’ve come this far. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. dead best friend. a tropical island in a sea of sand. “It’s just over that rise. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. Don’t pander.” Orlov murmured. after all. Don’t lose hope.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. I’m going to see it through. they clambered up the dusty gulch. Amazed. smiling. causing a mini landslide. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. Momentarily inattentive. I’ve heard things. She waddled up the wadi. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. bad as in good. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. Aleksandr.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw.” Bella replied brusquely. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. You can go back if you want to. Mr Kipling was near now. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. tennis courts. who once bestrode BrandLand. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. or something similar. which rolled back down the ravine. speaking slowly. Aleksandr. Stay true to yourself. Whatever. This is as far as I go. earnestly. “…brand characters talk. Sobbing uncontrollably. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. “What rumours?” The camel explained. having finally found gainful employment.
plump cushions. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. But she was friendly enough. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. Ruff. Hartley. Orlov tried to get through to it. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. taking in the gymnasium. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. “I think you’ll be impressed. Woof.” Betty said. “Woof. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. Nicole and Papa. regretfully. the forgotten British Telecom titans. Aunt Jemima. Grrrr. However. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. Bow-wow. Howard Brown. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. Yap. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. smiling benignly. On a whim. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions.” Orlov cried. their raping. It was filled with immortal brand icons. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel.R. look. the Coppertone girl. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair.” Without further ado. woof. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. who’d seen better days. Frankie and Louie. Frito Bandito. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. The mute mutt kept mum. Betty herself had seen better days. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. increasing market share. as orange as ever. “Would you like to look around?” she said. woof. Beattie and Buzby. Crazy Eddie. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. They peeked into the communal sitting room. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. rising from her sofa. woof.”
. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. sitting in a circle of silence. Joe Isuzu. thick carpets. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. Clippit. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. the coffee shops. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. the arts and crafts studios. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. Nipper responded eagerly. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. Bow-wow. the Tango man. explaining the rationale for their operation.” Orlov replied. as they were ushered into her office. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. the golf course. assorted Scottish Widows.“Welcome to paradise. the convenience stores and the community centre. “Look. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph.
Never was. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. Their accommodation was waiting for them. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere. They’d walked into a trap. Right now.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger.
.cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. He’s not here. They were there for the duration. Kipling’s a come-on..” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Crocker’s a…c. Smiling benevolently. Thinking quickly. Get out.
The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally.” The pain was excruciating. Chirpy. Louis sat up with a start. as are bladders full to bursting.” The torture wouldn’t stop. Better not. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light.Chapter Fourteen
You’re Never Alone With a Brand
“Arrrrrrgggggh. He looked around. the lynx tried to get his bearings. Cheep. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. “Noooooooooo. However. feeling queasy. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. “lie still”. youza. “Oooooohhhhh. though he wasn’t as young as he was. Groaning. Lynxes were lithe. Dawn would be up and about before long. “don’t move”. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. he remembered several more moments of madness.” The agony was unrelenting. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. With a sudden shudder of horror. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. Can’t be too careful. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. 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”. Louis had never had a hangover like it. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. which tightened inexorably. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. He was in a storeroom of some kind. but there was a limit. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. He was lying on a small camp bed. given the free floorshow Louis provided. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well.
. He flopped back down again. It was the least the bar owner could do. mercilessly. though they only had to ask. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. Head splitting. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. youza. Then things got a bit hazy. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. frankly. followed by “Chirpy. Red Robin”. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. well. the mortification or the migraine. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. Cheep”. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red.
lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. head thumping.” There was movement. fiddling with an iPaw. His iPaw was missing. Mr Bassett. Presumably. He unlocked the door. Louis needed all the help he could get. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. grabbing hold with both hands. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. kicking the door and shaking the bars. albeit not on account of the nausea. “I’m talking to you. If not Bertie himself. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. the shakes. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. eyes fixed on the smart phone. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. He shouted for assistance. Suddenly. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. hoping to attract someone’s attention. His red-suited. Ooohhh yeaaah. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. you son of a bitch. waited for the palpitations to pass. Only the minarets showed signs of life. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. peered through the iron bars. Louis angled his face on the bars. “Christ. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. And a figure sitting silently at the end. liquorice-like. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. It was sweet. Louis looked up. sugary. “Avoid the Noid. Apart from the sacks of snacks. “I’m talking to you. A call to prayer was imminent. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. yanking or pulling would shift the thing.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. He sniffed.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration
. Louis’s iPaw. briskly. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. before disappearing through a swinging access door. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. trying to place the aroma. He squeezed his face against the bars and.” he shouted. He banged on the door. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. Sobriety took hold. He paused. with a view to ringing the bar. holding it in. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. Livid. shoved it open with difficulty. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. which flapped to and fro in his wake.” he called out. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. “I’ve been expecting you. There was no sign of a cell phone. Anxiety mounting. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. dying for a drink. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. then tried again. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. He reached for his iPaw. Louis played it cool. rabbiteared guard remained silent. He searched around the room – his cell – without success.
“Marketing’s inherently melodramatic. an escape route for persecuted brands. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. Mr Lynx.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. He kept his cool instead.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders.” he said. Bassett or no Bassett.” Louis countered. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. Here’s lookin’ at you. Louis refused to be drawn. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. and suchlike. Well.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions.” he said. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. round up the usual suspects. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. he realised that something wasn’t right. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. Have you forgotten your training. the liquorice magnate said nothing. And today’s the day when your number’s up. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. continuing to play it cool. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. not even “My name is Bassett. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden.” “That’s what we want them to believe. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. They never come back. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. nodding toward the barrels once more. Unilever boy?” He stood up.” “I see. Instead. He had to get moving right away. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. some of them come back or. should I say. “But why.” he said. “are you telling me all this? What’s in it for you? What are you after? What do you expect from me in return?” “I expect you to die. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. rising energetically from his camp bed.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. “That’s a bit melodramatic. Mr Lynx. in response to the ridiculous death threat. “Maybe.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it.” Bassett smiled. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. “Your days are numbered. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap.” “I’m not with you. “They come from that. Bertie. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel. It might already be too late. hangover overcome by willpower alone. Nonchalant yet nasty. buy-or-die issues. kid. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. some parts of them come back.” There was no time to lose. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. We make dramas out of crises. Bertie Bassett”.”
. However. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever.Ordinarily. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. he sensed that Bassett was serious. He should have known better than to tempt fate. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. He soon would. Anything to make the memory go away. Although he was still alive.
As a consequence. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. like Mr Kipling. much less the physiology. There was no unscalable wall. Bella was kicking herself. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. something strange was going on. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. Bella could see the attraction of the place. was a crock of marketplace gold. But. No hard sell. The forbidden fruit trick. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. Bella could understand why any brand icon. as per ACME’s edict. 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. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. as Nipper made clear. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. no matter how venerable. She was very tempted. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. neither electrified nor chain link.Chapter Fifteen
No Rest Home for the Wicked
“What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. There was no perimeter fence. No hassle. clearly. The recreational facilities were wonderful. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. Mr Soybean. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled
. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. were a bit like piggy banks. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. its equity was still there. Brands. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. The food. That investment kept on growing and growing and. never mind a sickening stench. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. No soft soap. Bella well knew. no matter how outmoded. No hustle. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. Crocker’s camp. Every brand icon. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. The accommodation was superb. with watchtowers and guards. Tom Tomato. part of the brand trafficking operation. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything.
only smarter. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. Orlov looked up.” She let him splutter. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. It was worse than she thought.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. there’s a plume of smoke over there. just to see the look on his face. patting him on the back. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. low-rise glass building. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. The aroma. He coughed. Even Bella could smell it. Orlov was doubled over. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. “Acrylic. There was no escape. “Orlov insisted. minging and malodorous. Some chance.” he said. He didn’t look up to the challenge. She declined. retching in a revolting manner. She was a penguin ignoramus. It worked. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. “It’s a bit like a civet. footloose and fancy free. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. The stench was stronger now. for one – but this was ridiculous. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave.” Orlov gasped. “Definitely acrylic. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. “Burning acrylic. Not wanting to attract undue attention. struggling to his feet. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. then took in the nine-hole golf course.the perimeter. Still. He offered her one. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside. only with incense that’s gone off. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. a penguinoramus. He spluttered. Bella was beyond belief. Doubtless Tiger. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. That’s where it’s coming from. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. their
. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. was somewhere between niffy and noisome. “I still can’t smell anything. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. Orlov thought for a second. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies.” Bella said. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. Bella told him so. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. “Look. Undeterred. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite.” he added. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. behind a dense stand of leylandii. “Maybe it was something you ate.” she said. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. no less. Hundreds of sports team mascots.
“They certainly kept that quiet.” At a loss. It was Pegasus. 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. Portsmouth’s Frogmore. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. And won the election by a landslide. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. quotas. a brand abattoir. Stamford the Lion. Samson and Delilah. Barney. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom.” “Yes. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. targets similar work schedule metrics. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear.” Orlov said. the purple dinosaur.” Raging. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. nothing less than the furry solution. Desperate times require desperate measures. the questers considered their options. As a Russian. Bella. From its perch above the production line. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. It was about to launch into
. Aberdeen’s Angus.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. let alone A Bug’s Life. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. Norwich’s Captain Canary. which fell away when full.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. Appalled. The guard was no ordinary guard. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over.” Bella whispered. as had Go-Go Hamsters. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. There was only one problem. In the annals of advertising slogans. Gruesome as the big screen was. Peppa the Pig was no more. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. pampered. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. sadly. Beanie Babies had been and gone. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. He Gives a Monkey’s. It was apocaplush. As a democrat. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. they’re cuddly toys. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. The guard. was extinct. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season.
and don’t look so surprised. Just ask Tiger. “Is that so?” “Yes. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. A god’s gotta graft. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. She says you’re a sell out. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. Poseidon.” “Yes. Call her. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. Oh. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace.” Pegasus whinnied. Whatever. “you shouldn’t be here”. I’m not choosy. there’s only two of us. remember. Pegasus looked unimpressed. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. the rest soon follow. “However. “The Roc sends her regards. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. that its father.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. We’ve still got a wish in hand. Orlov cut the creature off. She’s full of it you know.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. Orlov. as you can see. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. I’m the offspring of Medusa. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. I dropped Bellerophon in it. Bella seized her chance. BTW. she does. Bella. It’s the way of the world. “I’m calling security” spiel.an “how dare you”. She says you’re dead horsemeat. Orlov. If so. I’m not proud. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. Once one sponsor departs.” Bella acknowledged. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. 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. However.”
. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. in case you’d forgotten.” “Your wish is my command. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics.
Penguin at the Gates of Dawn
The cry caught in his throat. by fair means or foul. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. You may also have heard that we get what we want. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. They had a rope. Mr Clean. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. “Let me guess.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. mean and muscular. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. The other was lean. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. no one could hear brands scream. Naturally. At one stage. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. P&G shakedown. the chatterbox beetle explained. I’m hoping it will
. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. “This is my esteemed colleague. Bleary-eyed. Shaven-headed.” he said. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. turning defence into attack. preparing to call for assistance. They were going to pull the bars out. Get ready to run for it. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body.” Louis snarled. he was distracted by a cough. Intrigued. And squeezed. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. You may have heard of us. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. a celebrity camel. he glanced up at the Proctoids. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. Bella sent them. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. he picked himself up. “I’m Julius Pringles. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire.Chapter Sixteen
Groaning. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. A camel was outside. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. allegedly. In Cin City. He could hear the door opening. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain.
Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. Under normal circumstances. both literally and metaphorically. moreover. It contained a chair. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. Is that what you’re saying. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. the one that controls cross-dressing. Pantene Pro-V enriched. One-handedly. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. began dragging him out of the cell. Ping. The persecutor paused. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. Ping. Veritably.” Clean went crazy. With a bestial bellow. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. giving his victim a chance to spit it out.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. come to think of it. However. Surprisingly feminine forename. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. Not so surprising. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. asswipe. Ping. Ping. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. a bucket. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. This was no ordinary water. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. “Let’s find out what he knows first. Stoically.be fair. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. “You know I can’t tell you that.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. Sorry. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand
. with a butt-ripping jerk. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. “Take it easy. Mr Clean will clean your house. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. a board. the pain would have been intolerable. Louis?” Playing for time. Without pausing for breath.” Pringles ordered. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. Clearly. With enormous effort. past the Noid who’d nodded off. It was P&G water. “And grease in just a minute. Instinctively. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. Julius. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour.” the lynx sang tunelessly.
It’s the best a brand can get. It’s common knowledge. Cursing and swearing. They’re about to abandon your brand name.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans.” Admirable though it was. though. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. The one without the battery. Louis. it was costing him a small fortune. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. Yes. Rrrrrrr. His training kicked in.secrets. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. fraught though they had been.” Muscles bulging. Even at wholesale prices. Strangely. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. “Tell us what we want to know. “Five precision blades. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. “I could do with a shave.” “Glad to hear it. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. which creaked and groaned from want of use. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. Quickly and efficiently. especially for so little reward. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. though. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. But he had miscalculated. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. The ladies like it that way. “Nice lather. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. Mostly. Howling with fury. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. You don’t owe Unilever anything. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. “Recognise this?” he raged. he asked Louis to reconsider. Masochistically shaving against the grain.” “Correct. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. he tied Louis down. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over.” Louis retorted. He had overlooked one crucially important item.” he spluttered. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink.” Clean crowed. pate glistening.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. Make it easy on yourself. eyes glinting. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. Wouldn’t they?
. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments.
” Louis gasped. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence.” Pringles said.” Pringles suggested.”
.” “Cool. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. Clean. though. “We blindsided you with that one. Are you ticklish. then turned to go. gibbering wreck in no time. “Kill him. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. Cats love a tickle. “You learn something new every day. electrostatically.” Louis tried to resist. By blindly following Gladwell. “Try the swiffer.” Pringles said. It was time for a change in tactics. But securely bound and helplessly splayed. He really did. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation.Clean was getting nowhere fast. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. I never knew that. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. he was a giggling. “Well. the American management guru. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. “It doubles as a tickling stick. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. they tell me. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner.
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. but wish three was unnecessary. Qualitywise. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image.” Unconvinced.Chapter Seventeen
I Heart Darkness
Pegasus cracked. They had raised the stakes. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. He couldn’t help it. We can talk to ACME. Reluctantly. cut corners.”
. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. Second. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised.” “What about you. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. He was capitalism in microcosm. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. when the chips were down. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. He was on a rescue mission. ethical. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. which was worrying for a working dromedary. make the sale. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. bluffed the brusque beast and. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. That little brand of yours has potential. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. just perfect for recessionary times. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. He owed them three wishes. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. Not long after liftoff. They were part of the plot against the plot. as gods go. Your prices are competitive. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. keen to do good. Third. Pegasus was basically kind. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian.” Orlov lied authoritatively. “It’s nothing. keep body and soul together. First. release the furry football prisoners. They weren’t part of the plot. “But see your vet anyway. Far from leading Louis to his doom. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. The reason rather was that. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. move the merchandise. Mustapha?” Bella wondered.
With no realistic alternative. There’s Caterpillar. “we’re coming in to land. he’d learned something from the Roc.” There was no persuading him. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs.” He circled and banked and glided. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. rolled before them. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. Nobody loves us. Pegasus was getting frisky too. there might be one or two. I’m in the dingleberry business. “What’s this?” Bella asked. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. Decrepit. the threesome took off. dotted with iridescent oases. yet beautiful. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. He’d take them as far as he could. laid into the winged god. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. But dung beetles are persona non grata. Forthright as ever. with a slight cough of embarrassment. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. snaking camel trains. “This is as far as I go. but no further. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. though. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. half as old as time. “specially designed for young children. as brand names go. A vast river. one step above slugs and snails. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. Although Bella didn’t like heights.” Louis chipped in. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. Evidently. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. Not as beautiful as the jungle.” the flying horse finally announced. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. Bella. herds of wild horses. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. the brand band agreed. Pegasus didn’t pause. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes.” Orlov added. There’s…” “Ladybird Books.” Pegasus snorted. There’s the Raid Bugs. That vessel will take you there. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. As far as most people are concerned. closely-packed settlements. Flashes of lightning.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. okay.com basin. soaring up and away. It was forbidding. “Hold tight. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. “The objective you seek is upstream. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. The beetle had a business to run. A flurry of feathery flutters later. And. they came to rest beside a small jetty. “Okay. sludgy and sluggish. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well.“I’m a dung beetle. How dare he drop them
. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well.
Earnestly. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. you see. “Have a nice day. X-tra strong mints. “The B-sound’s effective too.” a cordial voice chortled.” “Correct. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up.” the captain conceded. 4X beer. They use my proper name in Britain. 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. Campbell’s Soup. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. Welcome on board. modestly. You’re a joke. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. brothers and sister. Hence Kodak.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. energy: X-Factor. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. “Welcome to the jungle.” he corrected. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. You know how it is.” Feeling a little left out. “Betty Crocker. “I guess we better get going then. plosives.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. up and away. “I intend to. KFC. landlubbers. A grey-bearded. but as long as they keep the Captain part. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. Krispy Kreme. I presume. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. “I can see into the future.” Bella ventured.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. open-faced figure. Coca-Cola. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. A flash in the pan website.” “Captain Birdseye. aka Iglo. There wasn’t much to see: a
. sibilants. Kit-Kat. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. “Compare the market. You don’t belong in BrandLand. It’s the k-sound. I don’t particularly mind. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. Birdseye showed them around. X-Box. snapped open its wings.” Orlov contributed. X-series sports cars. excitement. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. You’re no loss. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. K-X soda. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye. with its connotations of edginess. P-P-P-Penguin.” Louis said nothing. Calvin Klein. apparently.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. aspirates.” With that. “Captain Iglo. “Yes. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. “I’m called Iglo in France.” They didn’t know how it was. The old salt nodded sagely. You’re not proper brand icons anyway.
a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. every free gift scheme. as if unconvinced by her reply. albeit steady as she goes. It’s pretty inhospitable country. Every sales promotion. steering a route of least resistance. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. And was wearing it under his uniform. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. Classic and Zero.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. Progress was slow.compact cabin. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. Diet. Bella. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. “The ACME Horde. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. “So. “Taste it. “Before you ask. as he nudged the wheel this way and that.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged. With a barf and a bellow.” she said. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander. “I’ll take your word for it. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. I know treasure seekers when I see them. by others. Captain.” “Right.” He handed her an old pewter cup.” Birdseye replied.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. However. Sceptical yet intrigued. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. After the requisite toot of the whistle. We’ve been on a long journey.” He nodded. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them.” Eyes twinkling. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. As shipshape as they’d ever be. every air miles offer. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. The Trove of Death. every loyalty
. Just. every lucky winner draw. stained with jolly jack tar. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. He’d been there. it’s called by some. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. it was a plausible brand yarn and. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. “There are three tributaries. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. a gimcrack forecastle. “The Cokenoco. lost in their own thoughts.” “I wasn’t going to ask. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene. Diet’s the least turbulent. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. Captain Birdseye cast off. bought the T-shirt. it shouldered its way upstream. not to say faintly ludicrous. The jetty was soon behind them and. done that.” “I think it’s exhaustion. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here.
complete the sentence. privilege card redeemable premium. who sells it on. win a house. reward or guarantee. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings. win a million. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. And it’s buried in them thar hills. every collect the tokens. scratch card.”
. win a car. According to old wives’ tales. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. every money off voucher. that is. win a holiday.card. In return for a fee. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality.
foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. yammering at top speed.” Orlov murmured. “It’s that way.” she observed.Chapter Eighteen
Tony. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. Guinness is good for you.G. “I’ll wait for you. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. straplines. The noise was deafening. slogans. screaming the praises of P. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. “You can’t miss it. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly. Louis and Orlov disembarked. Tips.” the old boatman added.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims. It’s one of our special editions. A trail of hoof. “Intuition. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. guys. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. “I got it covered. catchphrases and suchlike. 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. the MGM lion. “No added sugar. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles.” Orlov winked at Bella. “The horror. Tony. as the going got increasingly rutted. they forged forcefully ahead.” it parroted. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. The horror.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. Screeches. The path was narrow but passable.
. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. or had been fairly recently. “Instinct?” Bella asked. to everyone’s relief. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. It was humid. Riboflavin. if a trifle slippery. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. She didn’t want to know. as Bella. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. in a foot race. “Calcium. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. Burning Bright
The jungle closed in. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. However. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and. Every so often. It was hot. Guinness is good for you”. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth.” “I’ll say. It’s big in Brazil.” “It’s okay. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. Her companions didn’t disagree. Niacin. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. “Must be a nightmare after a storm.” Grinning despite herself. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. the Exxon tiger. The throbbing ceased.” he said.” the lynx intervened.
“It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. Boom. if not quite unbearable. dump bins.” “Ssssshhhhh. Chuckling. Bella burst out laughing. Orlov and Louis looked worried. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. was scattered around the periphery. as the ceremony proper commenced. minus the vocal accompaniment. big brand in west Africa. easing a succulent aside. Boom. however. they inched forward and. “Let’s just watch and wait. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. Emboldened. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. terrifying as its hooded features appeared.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. With a blood-curdling yell. Boom. Fast as the cobra was. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude.” Louis was less than impressed. A great shout of glee rose up
. “Advent. then a third. as well they might. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. Boom. A second drummer joined in. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. The crowd held its breath.listening intently from time to time. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. must have carried for many. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. If ACME’s behind this. decidedly unpleasant. Suddenly. Boom. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. Unfortunately. coupons.” Bella hissed. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. Boom-boom.” Orlov whispered. Boom-boom. the high priest of high fashion. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. cut cases. The drumming stopped. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. Boom. shelf-talkers. though they weren’t the centre of attention. Boom-boom. “Ssssssshhhhhh. many miles. The clammy heat was. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. a big. it didn’t last long.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. This was no ordinary ceremony. brandishing a burning brand. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. posters. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard.
The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. meanwhile. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. 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. circled slowly searching for an opening. Aghast at the brand butchery. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. In his top hat and monocle. Bella concluded that Louis was right. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. Mr Peanut. Luckily. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. The polar bear burst asunder. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. she encouraged the crowd to join in. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. The response was lukewarm. Booing derisively. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. the main event. The first combatant strode in imperiously. the cruiserweight climax of the card. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. Howling with bestial abandon. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. Miss Banana. Peanut paused. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. Ingeniously. seductively. belly dancing. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. she started dancing. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. removed his monocle and. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. Clearly. pretending it had steamed up. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat.from one group of onlookers. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. with fighting as part of the fun. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. The drums started up again. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. because a lot of money had been lost. Transfixed. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. Then another brand character contest kicked off. She started peeling off her skin. those whose side-bets were misplaced. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. as a groan escaped from the majority. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. Without further ado. Which of course it did. This also ended on a disappointing note. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. however. as the onlookers went ape. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. His followers showered him with confetti-
. slowly. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it.
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
as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. a non-native species that were doing to footwear brands – and fashion generally – what cane toad frogs did to the Adstralian outback some years back. A strange strain of fish. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. exchanged greetings and. slow travel. since they are exposed to them more frequently. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. Understandably. of conviction. brand. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. whirlpools. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. They stopped. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. the jungle less and less dense. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. Bella wasn’t so sure. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. rapids. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. slow parenting and so on. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda.
. CEOs need to chill a little. apropos of nothing. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. and whisked him off to meet his doom. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. shallows. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. He was a Mars Inc. which was a first for Mustapha. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. The captain said they were Crocs. 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. He’d been there. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. shook him down. But not right away. of continuing with the same basic proposition. top-hatted and smirking. chewed the fat about brand longevity.form of sandbanks. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. after asking what was biting. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. He knew what P&G were capable of. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. If anything. Izod and analogous alligators. He added. eddies. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. similar to slow food. The river got narrower and narrower. The lynx laughed it off. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. But she said nothing.
No sweat. though not inaccurately. That’s definitely not Doughboy. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum.” “He’s big.” “Photoshop. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll.” Mustapha said. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand. he’s really let himself go. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. allowing for the onrushing current. He throttled back and. either. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser.” “Heaven help us. run a few errands. There were no signposts to speak of. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. “Jeez. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. more like. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines.” Bella contradicted. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly.” Louis said. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. “They’re all at it nowadays. Louis and Orlov fell about. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. don’t forget. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. held her steady in the centre of the stream. no. wondering if they could do anything for him. “Five star restaurants. The overweight icon said nothing. they spotted Strider. The remains of a massive
.” “No. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. The Michelin Man. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). a superhuman snowman. bigger than the Marlboro Man. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. believe me.” Orlov gasped. At a bend in the river. right in front of the distended inner tube. He looked in pretty good shape. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. asking after his welfare. in an awestruck voice. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. the Johnnie Walker whisky character. even though he knew he shouldn’t.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush.” Louis continued. Barclays Bank. He doles out the awards. Not far ahead of them. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. “They were airbrushed. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa.” Orlov quipped. Mustapha looked confused. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. “Who?” “Bibendum.” Bella snapped. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably.As the brand band slid upstream.” Louis sighed. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. like little boys playing truant. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs. all right. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke.
ravaged by fine wines. “It isn’t alive. White to start. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. The blimp burped instead. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. Smiling appreciatively. the mist descended. Before long. but he still said nothing.
. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis.” Orlov said. “I think it’s a statue. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb.” But it wasn’t. Red thereafter. And it was.
Close encounters. “But in this day and age. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Little green men.” he shouted. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. “Maybe back in the good old days. like an air raid siren. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. She could sense it. Brand abduction. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. There was Quisp. right? Since the 1950s. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. She couldn’t think of any more. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and
. “We’re entering Aliens country. UFOs. sometimes to starboard. But Bella wasn’t listening. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. “What do you reckon. No good will come of this. pulsing intermittently. Her brain had gone numb. smell it. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. at least. Taking command once more. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle.Chapter Twenty
All Your Brands Are Belong to Us
The mist was thin at first. sometimes to port. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. A humming sound started up to starboard. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. The fug literally vibrated at one point. Bella stood in the forecastle. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. Another loud hum struck up to port. Bella bellowed back. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. “Area 51. There was Google’s Android software icon. sometimes arcing across the sky. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. such as it was. touch it. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years.” More in hope than expectation. She had other things to attend to. ACME was within her grasp.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. he gurned from time to time. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. There’s nothing to worry about. practically. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. Orlov?” Bella called. They moved around above them. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin.
Said they were legendary. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. someone. they mounted purposefully. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. The lull didn’t last. bracken patches. The acme. The captain’ll come round soon enough. legs lashing. A dull rumble roared ahead. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. “This is Fanta Falls. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. even. It got louder and louder. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. bramble
. He’s done his duty by us. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank.” she shouted to Louis. There’s no point persecuting him any further. “This is where we get off. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. An intense stare. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. let her go. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. as a wall of fizzy water. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. very close. Bella licked the side of her beak. At the side of the falls. presumably to another planet. The epitome. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled.” Louis didn’t disagree. allegedly. Several flights of stairs later. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. Bella’s band were close. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. They’re impassable. flight by flight. eyeball-melting orange in hue. it was definitely the colossus of brands. The landing lights had moved on.” Orlov did the needful. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. he gave up. Ho. feelers flailing. “Hush. Spectral silence reigned.” With a natural nautical flair. to the tableland above. Louis made to tie the tub up. bubbling and fizzing. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho.yammering that prevented rational thought. rather. Without pausing for breath. Before long.” Bella hissed. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. Ho. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. though. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. “I know where we are. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. broke out his wings and took flight. Smirking despite their perilous situation. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. sucking his thumb. Eventually. but Bella said no. “Please. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. A vast orange sodafall. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. The buzzing had stopped. cut into the living rock.” Her companions didn’t doubt it.” she called. “Shut him up. Brand stretch is bad news.
Orlov voted for the central administrative block. Beefeater. As Bella and the boys strolled past. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. while trying to work out where they were. “It’s Professor Kipling. to be precise. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student
. “and then see what’s what.bunches and hardy karst grasses. cold. grikes and runnels ahead. Bibendum. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. more beautiful still were the students. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. Truth. Certainly. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. It was a university. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. cold. “I just don’t get it. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. of course. The others gathered round to do likewise. Bella was bewildered. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. nothing less than BrandLand University College. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. neo-classical pastiche. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. almost art deco. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. They set off for the administrative building. I suspect. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. According to a poll in Time magazine. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. surely. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. However. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. wall-mounted day planners. too.” she said.” he said. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. As they drew closer to the structure. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. 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.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. a new university. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. He was right.
then reappeared waving excitedly. a few moments later. while holding open the heavy glass door.” “He’s in. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. Understandably. “It’s Mr Kipling. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense.” Mustapha crowed. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. Pochacco the dog. Kipling’s door was at the very end. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby.a. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. “This is the place. Picke Bicke mouse. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. disappeared into the belly of the beast. Top medics are always called Mister. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded.” a melodious voice responded. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable.p. They knocked politely. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. Don’t be bashful. “There’s a board by the door that says so. “Enterrrrr. mouthing bowwow for good measure.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. Louis.” “Great. There’s hope for us yet.” Bella noted.” “Actually. Exasperated. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body.” There was indeed. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. “Enter. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. if not exactly in seventh heaven. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. a kind of inverted snobbery. They piled into the lift and. It’s even more elevated than Professor.body. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline. a. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor.”
.” he shouted. Bella shook her head.” Orlov corrected. Louis would have volunteered to help. “Excellent. “He isn’t a professor after all. Pekkle the duck. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. “At last. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor. rats.s. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. Not him too. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. 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.” Orlov sighed. He winked by way of replying. That’s a good thing.
then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Bella took a deep breath. thought about things for a second. Orlov shrugged. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. Undeterred. and pushed. raised her flipper.
. Louis nodded.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression.
Perfectly Good Fakes
Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. curled in a ball. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. It was the statues that surprised her. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. Cataletto. Dozens of them. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. as brand mascots. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. Pussain. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. all silent. But there were long chains of Russian cats. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend.” Mr Kipling said. Books there were. as product spokespersians. She imagined.” she asked. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. There were paintings by Catavaggio. smiling obsequiously.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. are often negative. “Second. which stretched from floor to ceiling. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. dewy eyed. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. cats are discriminated against and. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. and several others she didn’t recognise. Whereas dogs are everywhere. with black necktie and starched collar. “Before you ask. Statues of cats. She was right on the first count. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. “First. etc. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. that it would be filled with books and not much else. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. “Is that like the glass ceiling. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. Catstable. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. “only for cats?” Smiling. As Bella gazed around the room. She didn’t know what to expect. somehow. Salvadore Kitty. though most of these were open and in use. all ceramic. but not on the second. what few portrayals there are.
schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair.” he continued. or said he did. “Correct. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. He knew her grandfather well. Bella inhaled deeply. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. Orlov. However there was a good reason for that. about flipper fatigue.” Kipling said. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. nor the surrounding countryside. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. He recognised Bella right away. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. He rubbed his chin idly. To all intents and purposes. it transpired. then rose to greet his visitors. Indeed. much less the BrandLand University campus. clandestine success. he was less impressed by.” Kipling conceded. Louis.” he called. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. along with the space-invader sound effects. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. proper. lost in thought. industrious. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. turning to Orlov.
. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. intellectual acuity. “And you. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. The patriarch pushed back his chair.” Kipling said calmly. “Let me show you something. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. “I see.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. rose from his desk. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. unerring. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. As it was true confessions time. Black Beauty. “I see. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. peering at her intently. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. since the brand was a lynx in name only.
Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. worried looks on their faces. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. Bad as capitalism can be. The clouds parted. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. What you see. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. where we study black swans. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. Toad of Toad Hall. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. With a start. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. to Kipling’s irritation. ACME is a generic term. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. Call of the Wild. used by all and sundry.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. let alone a committee that calls the shots. Watership Down. “We’re talking about a state of mind. Bella. She tried again. “Take a sip.” Orlov quipped. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. “If it’s not any of the buildings. She felt her legs buckle beneath her.” At a loss. Bella.Animal Farm. with a
. Mr Kipling sat beside her. Academy Country Mammal Education. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. Everything became clear. Bella. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. purple cows. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world.” “An exceedingly good fake. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market.” “In a way. The Ugly Duckling. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. the Hare and the Tortoise.” Bella said. “It’s more intangible than that. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. It’s a fake. a glass of hard liquor in hand. unprotected by copyright or trademark. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Bella was too stunned to respond. She’d been out for hours. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment.” he said. animal emblem products in particular. There is no controlling force. surrounded by plaster cats. Bella awoke. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. “So. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. The Gruffalo. I take it. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly.” A light went on above her head.
However. I’m okay. Aleksandr. I could acquire a taste for that. however. It looked and smelled delicious. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. separates the inseparable. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. He succumbed. He was starving.” The meerkat nodded sagely.twinkle in his eye. Kipling returned to his desk. just like these slices of cake. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection. “I’m not hungry. Exactly. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. Mr Kipling replenished her glass.” With a knowing look. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers.” With a good-try smile. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. instant rewards. she thought. instant returns. renders the similar dissimilar. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow.
. raising a flipper in protest. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. Curvoisier delivered. “No really. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. “Almond slices. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. As Bella sat up.” Bella said. distilled from dead dogs. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. All this way for what? What indeed. perhaps? Apple pie. though. It was a rhetorical question. or so the story goes. say. “These are the essence of branding. someone once said. “Oh. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. “We live in a world of identical products. One was right in front of the lynx. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. Orlov dropped his eyes.” Disappointed. though. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. then stowed the bottle away. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. Effective branding is a very slow process. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes.” he said. “I’m impressed. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. “This isn’t a snack.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. to her companions’ relief. We need people like you round here. You should consider a career in academia. instant impact…or else. “Exactly. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis.” 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. emphasising. It’s a test. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. aren’t they? Angel cake. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. “Branding. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. Very impressed. especially in these days of instant results. The rewards are enormous in the end.
Exactly.” Louis added..Expecting to be lambasted for his greed. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face. finishing her brandy.. eyeing up the other slice. at least in the short run. He needn’t have bothered.” Bella said. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties.” Mr Kipling replied. fast and effective. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin.” “I still don’t see. It’s cheap. You swallow the competition.”
. You establish a monopoly. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. Louis struck his best cute cat pose. his rudeness. “I think you do.” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. “Exactly.
The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes
Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. swear to anything. to say nothing of tourists. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. Next are bipedal animals. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. when western capitalism also wobbled. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. though. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. those that walk or stand upright
. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. Cute critters remind them of childhood. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. Breed-interest. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. designed to make his breed the boss. in short. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. they were much less photogenic than adélies. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Michelin Man. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. Captain Birdseye. Humankind. He’d concocted a credible external threat. If anything. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. He wanted power. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. rather. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. was counter-cyclical. Le Penguin didn’t want that. was motivated by self-interest. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. say anything. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. Bella had never heard the expression before. The irony. his slaughter of the innocents. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. Had it been McKitty. chinstraps or rockhoppers. Dogs’d do anything. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. Accordingly. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. is that penguins are as popular as ever. However.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. according to Kipling. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. his call for a cull of isabellines. It was a blatant power-play. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. the suckers at the centre of it all. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. frankly. Models and Explanations. As did the Great Chain of Branding. as did the early 1900s. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. Bella cursed herself bitterly. emperors. The demand for spokescreatures. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves.
at bottom. “I’ll be staying here for a while. “I think it’s time to go. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. Louis seemed excited. “Rrrrrrrrr. spiders and cockroaches. sheep. most notably bears. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. the climax of Animal Farm. to the top of the penguin pile. or possibly rockhoppers. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. Bella. She’d been outsmarted. dogs. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. rhinos. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. They were a study in contrasts. She glanced across at Kipling. tigers. Recession. meerkats and prairie dogs. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. because penguins had done pretty well. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. given its size and growth prospects. they say. She was going to miss him. Beaten. Not yet. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt.
. monkeys. The entire journey had been a waste of time. She turned to her companions. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. guys. penguins. Not completely. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. Quadrupeds like cows. The Great Chain explained a lot. naturally. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. However. Literally. But all was not lost.” “Actually. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. She recalled. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. Clearly. they’d been living on a pig’s back. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. Worse. is red in tooth and claw. Bella felt fit to be tied. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. or so she believed. Le Penguin had won.” Louis said. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. They hugged. by and large. She’d been a fool. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. Louis rrrrrrrred in return.” Bella purred. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. much less millipedes. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. Not by a long chalk.in semi-human fashion. Well beaten. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. Branding. sadly. cats. crocodiles are further down the rankings. She’d been beaten. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. She’d fallen for it. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. with shame. Easy-going as a rule.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. though not as far down as six-legged.
” Touched. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. “That’s our Simples secret. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation.” Louis laughed. To his shame and embarrassment. kissed him on the cheek and. Toast It. But I skimmed that particular entry. he looked forward to attending her lecture. “I’m staying too. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. However. including Catch It. Trim It. Scoff It. “I’ve got a lot to learn. Still chatting. I know. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. as well as with sauces. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch.” he giggled. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. Aleksandr. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College.” She leant forward. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. The meerkat was mistaken. I’m afraid. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. “Why’s that. Skin It. I could do with it. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. She held him tightly.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. eyes shining with meerkat tears. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. and the not so highly regarded Department of
. condiments and preserves. Bella. “You gave Kipling the look. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. before whispering in his ear. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. pickles. Bella. I’m a fraud. Ever proper. Follow me. Shoot It. Clean It. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. I’m Flat Eric 2. with a come-here gesture to Louis. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. I’m a fad. Attenborough. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. Apparently. Assam. for example. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. Her latest was called Snare It. the way I skimmed so many others. for starters. Bella couldn’t stand in his way.” he said. Cambridge. You’re too kind. I know. the vaunted TV naturalist.0. which was sure to prove provocative. “Thanks.” Mirthful. Thanks.Sad-faced. “If ever you need…” “Yes. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. Beaten to his own punch line. Taste It. “…and. Cook It.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. “I think we can do better than that.” the great brand man chuckled.
plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. Mustapha stared at them askance.” He rubbed his claws again. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. she looked like a sacred ibis.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. while rubbing his legs gleefully. “After you’ve cleaned up here. Under normal circumstances. bobcat’s your uncle. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. one Mustapha Midden. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. Mustapha pulled out a full-length.” Orlov said. “But how?” Bella asked.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. lookingood-ladies palaver. Before long.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. plus matching undergarments. they emerged into a compact. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. before you know it. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise.” “Many claws make light work. With the hood up. “All sold out. Bella tried them on. “you need permission. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. bookstore. I’m a desert rat. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. beehives.” “No can do. “But surely.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). raw material. All six of them. Mustapha.” Orlov said. “You might be needing these for your journey. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. “I’ve got something for you. Her utter amazement.” With a flourish. though. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner. They were a perfect fit. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. all with a snazzy scarab logo.Popular Culture. Eventually. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. So much so. and. “I like this place. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. don’t you know. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. however. “But where?” Louis inquired. Can’t stand the cold. the great
. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. credit…” No less nonplussed. the throng dispersed. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. With six legs and a little get up and go. ponytails. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. suppliers.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak.
. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. On Kipling’s call. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. then mounted her de luxe conveyance.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. where she awaited further instructions. Bella hugged Aleksandr. the scribe. the arbiter. Louis. she was gone.
” “Rather. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. It was true what they said. She had nothing to lose. She asked instead about the brand. “You’re looking well on it. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. Ogilvy hated flying.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. As they rose to their cruising altitude. Paris Humboldt. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay.” she said. Bella didn’t hold that against her. the offbeat plan solidified. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. she had lost her best friend. 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. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. under German ownership. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. If not quite Anna Karenina. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. though. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. Bella was spellbound. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. “We fiddled while the brand burned. 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. “They don’t make ’em like you.Chapter Twenty-three
Who Was That Masked Mascot?
They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. During the appeasement era.” Ecstasy said immodestly. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. anymore.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. So did Bella.” she replied diplomatically. serene. lowly place though it was. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. But after Pegasus and the Roc. luxurious. she asked. Isaac and Nina. redolent of Roedean. I am. Why. she was getting used to it. apparently. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. She had lost her parents. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. yah. much less defeated fierce macaronis. As they flew over Fanta Falls. Bella replied in the affirmative. with impenetrable jungle on either side. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. Bella thought. If he’d been on this Rolls. suffice it to say. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy?
“We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes.” Ecstasy sighed. it was bitter. except that there were more macaronis than before. Bella screeched at the multitude below. Almost instantly. taking in the incredible apparition above them. though some adélies looked up. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. Bella felt a chill in the air. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. don’t fall for it. an enormous shocked intake of breath. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. It was wonderful. Bella whirled round. Perched on the back of a flying angel. It was déjà vu all over again.” “Tell the tale. A murmur commenced. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. He’s a tyrant. Bella believed. Look. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. folks.” Carried away on the wind. More and more turned round and faced skywards. Before long. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. It’s a trick. the deep blue Boots crevasses. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica.“That’s where we went wrong. all regimented. looking for a suitable landing site. Better yet. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. The muster was much better organised. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. He sounded crazier than ever. It was beautiful too. all equidistant. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. Outraged. I suppose. all shouting as one. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. “Yes. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. make the sale. a penguin power play. the Iceland ice shelf. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine.” All talked out. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. even though she’d no home to go to. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. She could see the Homebase Glacier.” “Quite. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. wrapped up
. The bitterer the better. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. She could see them pointing their flippers. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. Buffeted by howling winds. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. 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. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. It was invigorating. She couldn’t make it out at first. Bella could feel herself welling up. in the far distance. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods.” Taken aback. She was home. Sad. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. she mused. moreover. look. Suddenly she could.
Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. I met him. She took a deep breath. These were the people who’d killed her parents. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. We’re all macaronis now. He vacated the microphone. It was risky. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. There is no hope for us. As one creature falls in human estimation. The entire crowd squawked in horror. had finally arrived. as he tried to work out her angle. a messenger. The crowd gasped again. It was hard to control her anger. another rises.” She paused again. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. Having planted the seed of hope.” Bella announced to the multitude. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. head covered in an enormous cowl. He quickly regained his composure. however. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. Emperors. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. But he couldn’t interrupt. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. it needed several seconds to germinate. All brands must pass. Even macaronisation won’t save us. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face.”
. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. while pulling back her khaki cowl. which of course is our community’s speciality. because she was one of their own. the coming creature is the prairie dog. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. here on behalf of ACME. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. She bit her lip. She knew she only had one shot. a sign. with only her beak protruding. Very risky. Inadvertently. however.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. She held fire. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. as her image appeared on the giant screen. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. “There is a solution. Bella swallowed. “Seize the day. a shot across the bows. Would it were otherwise. it seemed. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. Ten days ago. followed by those of gentoo descent. Denunciation was doomed. claiming that ACME had sent a warning.” she whispered to herself. “According to the Meow Jones Index. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar.in a great taupe cloak. they seemed to say. Antithesis. The Ibis. “I am. in delight and relief. It requires a little lateral thinking. However. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. she must have been a baleful sight. a way out for us all.
“There’s a downside to prairie dogging. “Every prairie dog has its day. Suddenly. The old order would re-establish itself. of all for one. even though their natural crests would have to go too. It was the riskiest of the lot. Even our most extravagantly crested species.” There was complete silence for a second. asshole. It was all or nothing. as the gathering made up its mind. Not bemused.” He glared murderously.” “Catch you later. I want my MuMi. you isabelline bitch. “I’ll get you for this.” Mmmm. royals royals. And take your tufts with you. sadly. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price.” “Not today you won’t. Victorious. No more hairpieces. a little like isabellines. though. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. This is a heavy price.” she said calmly. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. Bella thought. “It means removing all tufts. Today is my day. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. we’ll cull you. Bristling with rage. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. She had another card to play. They look a little like us. emperors emperors. where you belong. Penguins are passé. No more tufts. Having won over the doubters. one for all. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. “Fellow penguins. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. of togetherness. The gentoos jumped for joy. She already had. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. will have to depilate. Enjoy it. critter. “I want my MuMi. In reality. Kings could be kings. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. complete with stylish scarab logo. Prairie dogs are tuftless. penguin parity didn’t exist. she turned away from the podium.” “Don’t cull us.The audience exchanged glances. a huge roar of approval rent the air. The blackfoots went bananas. because I’ll be back. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. such as our beloved macaronis. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. “I want my MuMi. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality.” the audience shouted. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. she looked incredible. “Fear not. Not sceptical.”
. But with a sick slimeball like you. They live in large communities like us. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. but the rewards are enormous. I’ll make an exception. I know. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. though. like us. The dream did. No more macaronisation. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. Playful as always.
Donald Duck. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. but if it rehabilitated isabellines and helped bond an embittered community – a community that had succumbed to the macaronis’ attempt to exploit recessionary fears for their own foul ends – then the PDF (prairie dog fad) would have achieved its purpose. Orlov had said. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. she told herself. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. Thoughts of her dead friend. be it the iPod. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. the more they exploited it. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. since penguin popularity had never been higher. Mickey Mouse. Sean the Sheep on the other. they dreamed dreams of freedom. all adélies keen to assist their mottled
. The cuter the critter. Except it didn’t last long. She never really did. but really didn’t now. 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. Where there’s muck there’s brands. Pixar and Dreamworks. She didn’t belong anymore. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort.and laptop-equipped cubicles. In the meantime. Thoughts of her late parents. True.Chapter Twenty-four
Love the Skin You’re In
The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. if not his totemic tufts. trampled on though they were. there were MuMis to move. It was unnecessary. Look on the bright side. mashups and graphic novels. she had a job to do. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. according to Mr Kipling. Akin to chained animals in their phone. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. However. prevalent though pigeonholing was. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. was draining away inexorably. Rin Tin Tin. Alone with her thoughts. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. Finny too. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. Still. Stuart Little on the one hand. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. she’d never felt so lonely. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. or to complain about stereotyping. After receiving the congratulations of the Adarctic colony – even the emperors deigned to speak with her – and after recounting an edited version of her adventures to all who asked. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. admittedly. For ever. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights.
She glanced around.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice.” “Goody! Gotta go. she said her fashionista farewells. was drawing in. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. Mummies mean a lot. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. Mustapha changed the subject. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. However. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. “I hope you realise. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot. The crevasse caught her eye. Ciao. Evening. Bella. Air kiss. “I’ll work on it. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way.
. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. because they already embody the brand. smiling at the strangely distant memory. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. “I’ll be needing agents.deliverer. such as it was. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. who was hard at work on his furballs. I’ll be passing on P&G. The sun was low in the sky. Mustapha. It was time to pay her final respects. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. She checked her MuMi ensemble.” With a smile of admiration. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. Mummies are special. She stared over the edge of the glacier.” Mustapha countered. Actually. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. air kiss.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss.” she chided. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. No one was looking. many maintain. Seemed pretty stout. On a whim. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. She had a busy time ahead of her.” “I hope you realise. let alone satanic macaronis. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. if there were problems with build quality. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. “that there are forty million cats up north. especially to those without them. Mustapha. Bella was all alone. Logistics. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. you know. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. the ride was really rather thrilling. She felt the material with a flipper. she Skypied Mustapha. suffice it to say. darling. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. Laughing.
Isaac and Nina. young woman. slow-witted leopard seals. The kaleidoscopic colours. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. screaming. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. “Izzy. however. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. She tried to kick the thing off. but was far too fearful to care. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. not looking where she was going. eyes watering. punctuated by periods of blind panic. Bella shook her head. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. water-resistant. the great divide. past slackjawed. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. more like. more like. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. Pepsi-cola Blue. She corkscrewed like crazy. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. beak aching. to no avail. moaning and groaning. the warp-factor slide into the sea. howling. trying to focus. Head throbbing. The looming twosome merged into one. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. unquestionably. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. A death sentence. Uncle Izzy. It got caught around her ankles. her death wish. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. no way. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo.”
. She bounced over bumps several times. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death.” he observed. as there always are.” Bella dived head-first into the void. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. my head hurts. Despite her abject terror. She could see stars. She pushed and pushed and pushed.“Weeeeeeeeee. But only for a second. BMW Blue. yourself especially. Both of them did. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. Waterlogged. Paris. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. Alarm bells ringing. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. A sheet anchor. Pale Tiffany blue to start. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. All of a sudden.” “I…I…I…Oh. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. the precipitous final plunge. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. in fact. she remembered the wall of death. across the bay. Go faster. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. were incredible to behold. She hurtled round bends. apart from that downpour up the jungle. “You should be ashamed of yourself. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. shrieking with alarmed laughter. Recklessly. She’d forgotten how fast it was. it descended through IBM Blue. The previous ride was coming back to her.
anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. huddled together. We smuggled her to safety. no.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. Overcome with emotion. Bella leapt up. Disappearing off like that. daughter of mine. Staggered. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. Bella’s parents came to join her. looking pale and interesting. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon.” Smiling indulgently. it was Bella’s decision. sleeping gently. but she’ll live. Bella scampered across to her best friend.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. Without a by your leave. “Worried sick. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head.” He had her on “are”. not knowing what to expect. surrounded by screens. to his delighted consternation. mummy. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced.” “Miracles never cease. She peeped anxiously over the screen. dearest. head completely clear. They had their hands full with Paris. she toward them. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. worried sick. “Mummy.”
.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. she didn’t know what to say. all distant relatives. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. heads bent.” They looked up. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. But her outfit saved her. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. The decision was made. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. and then she saw them. she hugged her parents with all her might. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. Ecstatic. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. She’s happy the way she is. They assumed the worst. “So. There’s a bit of scarring. They all talked at once. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. However. you know. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. to one side of the wall of death divide. followed his indicative flipper. young lady. daddy.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. mummy. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. “Paris is perfectly fine. Plans to get a real job. you say?” “Yes. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. daddy. “Your parents are worried sick about you. Daddy. manifestly in mourning. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. backs bowed. daddy. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. You owe them an apology. They couldn’t find her. “No. There the heiress was. They rushed toward her. a proper job. what have you been doing with yourself. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features.
Let me explain.“What??!!” “As I said.”
. it’s a long story.
com. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. who would win?” And. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. Who will win. Way back in the early days of the company. for example.” “Or a plan. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. As an Amazon serf explains in his side-splitting account of “Jeff’s gorilla and bear thing”:
We would all laugh very hard and look knowingly at each other. that at some point in the proceedings. you know. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. “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. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. I have no fucking idea. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. plans and profitability.The Little Penguin That Could
An Afterword on Mashups and More
A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. without fail. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. So much so. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. prospects. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. Daisey. because we need to be the
. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head.” Needless to say. on the web. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. the ebullient founder of Amazon. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. Although no topic was taboo. and the perfect work will do both.” “Like a secret message. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle.
Puma’s puma. boring. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. short. All things considered. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. I made a start on several others. bombastic and. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. Maybe. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. I mused. favourably. Bears with guns. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored.3 Taken aback by this reaction.1
Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters.2 Much to my surprise. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). enthusiastically. 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. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. and. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. today’s multi-tasking. And now that BrandLand “exists” – as a kind of Oz with advertising – there’s no reason why it can’t be revisited from time to time. I cast around for excuses. Some students were blown away. They found it dull. the students hated Levitt’s essay. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. I didn’t get round to most of them. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article.armed bears.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. hey. I conceded. Aflac duck. Granted. admittedly. I fully expected the students to respond positively. it pains me to report. But. 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. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. I mean. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem?
. Maybe. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. though. I surmised. Some time ago. interestingly. a sure fire cure for insomnia. Maybe. the case studies in the original – railroads. Jaguar’s jaguar. We begin with a little bit of backstory. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. petroleum. the bears who come equipped.
There was only one problem. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. in effect. My students. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. Let alone thrillers. by the task I’d set myself. When flying around the country. and The Lost Logo. They cost an absolute fortune. Between 2005 and 2008. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. As an inveterate booklover. Nevertheless. One was the latest management bestseller. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). if not undaunted. as did Bono. clearly. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. while queuing up for the cash register. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. Marilyn Monroe. tongue-in-cheek. You couldn’t make it up. If anything. secret codes proliferated. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. But then I noticed something intriguing. The Marketing Code. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. much less reading the wretched things. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. as an aberration. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. The antidote. 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. Except that I did. naturally).
. as a quirk of the Irish. the writing role model was Dan Brown. as they say.5 Dead bodies abounded. I did what many novice novelists do.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. 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. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. Undeterred. I had never written fiction before. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. 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. Agents & Dealers.Unfortunately. In my case. Once again.
the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. as it gave me
. I suppose. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. However. consumer behaviour. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. characterisation and more besides. chronology. 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 kernel for the covering. Like any learner. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. action sequences especially. Red Bull energy drink. though. Stork margarine. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. The whole process. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. never mind bring them all together successfully. My original intention was to leave things there. Yes. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles.In retrospect. True. was that I tried to do too much. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. if truth be told. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. By far my biggest mistake. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. of William Golding. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. 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. And quite a few of my later ones. Nowadays. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. It seemed like an interesting project and. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. full stop. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. say. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. techniques and writing style of academia. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. pacing. However. etc.).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. 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. Essentially. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. similarly. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. The same is true of fiction. Students. funnily enough. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. Crocs shoes. Ditto my fiction.
Whistler. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. are exemplary media mashups. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. In the literary world. the way I did before. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. not unlike those in the Decameron. In movies. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. 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”. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. My brilliant publisher. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. In the visual arts. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. he commanded. Arabian Nights. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Canterbury Tales. meanwhile. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. mashups are digital medleys. the reader. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. wasn’t impressed. Rob Williams. car parking in Tel Aviv. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. songs. videos. In television. What’s more. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. Let the brand characters be characters. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. Pom Somkabcharti. bits of bytes brought together as books. Bring the brands to life. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. In this case. computer applications et al. the breakup of rock band Oasis. Rob cut through the crap.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. Stop writing parodies. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. The Penguin’s Progress was born. I mean. admittedly. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. et al. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new.7 In music. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?”
Elsie isn’t just any old cow. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. Pattern Recognition. It gathers together several hundred brand characters.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. Brand characters are trademarked. That said. Charlie the Tuna. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. In a shared narrative space. which features more than 3. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. their intellectual property. she’s Borden born and bred. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. however. fan fiction. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. True. That elephant is called copyright. their copyrights. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. for certain consumers at any rate. What’s more. of late. though a hardline. As one commentator ruefully observes:
. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. consumer response has been highly favourable. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. Ask any counterfeiter. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Indeed. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. among others).8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. There’s an elephant in the room. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. between the covers of glossy magazines. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. Jennifer Government. on roadside billboards. 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. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. in the main.
As if. the genius screenwriter. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. Any criticism. I grant you. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. It does so with satirical intent. Alun Richards. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. the standard academic article. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. And every song ever written has been informed by music that the composer has absorbed in his or her earlier life…The YouTube remix culture is thus a new take on a venerable tradition. my incredible family – Linda. The Bedside Book of Beasts. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur.10
I can’t deny. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. which explores the interdependency of man and animal:
Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. And yet. We seek to empower kingdoms. the author. then we may all. their teeth and genital organs. who was a notorious borrower. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. and. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. As pastoralists and sport hunters. Just think of Handel. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas. bears or tigers. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. last but not least. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. 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. This attempt may not be successful. unconventional ways. TPP is an attempt to do just that. Rob Williams. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. As a critic by inclination. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. nations. hawks or eagles. live to regret it. For one thing. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. should be directed at me. That’s their prerogative. however. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. the “Faber Fellowship”. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. original.
. professional sports teams. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. though. we pulverise their livers and bones. except for the lawyers. the dreadful how-to tome. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. but the conventional marketing textbook. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. Madison. To normal human beings.
Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. New York. Don’t all rush at once. This may well be so. 1986). Thank you for reading this far. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. Still available from all good charity shops. 3. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. whose art takes from then and now. 2005).
The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. or scavengers. 7. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. 2004. Both.com (Fourth Estate. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood.Mike Daisey. My only defence is that. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. incidentally. mine has been reasonably productive. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. Yes. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. 2002). As with all symbolic representations. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. as a card-carrying academic. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. 4. Speaking personally. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. helpful or destructive. we need to explore other platforms. 209-238. I’m acutely conscious that. for example. and the ancestors of humanity. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. 2. The younger generations are prepared to read. pp. 6. from Claude and the comic book. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. such as iPhone apps. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water.sfxbrown. See Stephen Brown. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. compared to some mid-life crises. bears are renowned spirit guides. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. As a group. in what seems to be a search
. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. You may be wondering why I’m writing a book when today’s youngsters are increasingly reluctant to read and Google is allegedly adversely affecting the limited reading skills they possess. Marketing Theory 4 (3). are available in his excellent anthology. 5. 9899. London. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. and body-parts from the earliest of times. Among northern peoples. You glutton for punishment. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. It’s very widely cited. scientific and irrational. pp. London. However. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. computer games and videography.com
Notes and References 1. you! If you have any comments on the novel. or a deceptive mixture of the two. experiment and belief.feathers. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. and Christ the Lion of Judah.
5 June. 2005) and his more recent polemic. 6-7). pp. 2010). pp. 2002. Kathryn A. “Entering a whole new head space”. 2009). London. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. 21. Chicago. 2010.
. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. Braun. London. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. 9. Psychology and Marketing. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. p. check out Lawrence Lessig. On the on-going copyright debate.for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. London. The Sunday Times. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. 2010. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. 10. Sunday 25 April. 19 (1). John Naughton. Culture Magazine. New York. 2008). “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. Loftus. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. The Observer. 2008). 1-23. 8. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”.
the Michelin Man. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. the Vlasic stork. J. Joe Isuzu. moreover. this is as it should be because “We are people. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. Morris the Cat. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. the Hofmeister beer bear. We know a lot about ourselves. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. assorted Scottish Widows and many. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. Cheeka. many more.R. Aunt Jemima.1 Well. Elsie. Veritably Clean.2 It follows. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. or the Noid. the Bisto family. the Coppertone Girl. Nipper. the Vodaphone pug.com sock puppet. the Pets. Howard Brown. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. Julius Pringles. Crazy Eddy. Hartley. all told. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Anthropomorphically speaking. Ronald McDonald. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Uncle Ben. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel.151 individual entries. perhaps inevitably. Johnnie Walker’s Strider.Appendix
The Great Chain of Branding
Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. the Burger King. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). Johnny English. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. the Bon Ami
. not entirely. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. Rather than provide potted biographies of the mascots mentioned herein – since they are easily tracked down online – let me use this appendix to make a couple of broader points. the Borden cow. Of this total. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. Captain Birdseye. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. Bertie Bassett. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Most of these mentions. a shades-wearing. the Morton Salt Girl. whether it be A Bathing Ape. Fido Dido. the Gold Blend couple. Pillsbury Doughboy. are made in passing. my dataset comprised 1. 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. Colonel Saunders. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. the HMV dog. such as Hello Kitty. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). the Mytag repair man. After trawling through websites.
In addition to the overall pattern. thanks to Steven Spielberg. As you might expect. India of elephants and so forth. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. icon and offer together as a seamless whole.com and Bell Canada beavers. Mr Kipling cakes. owls impart wisdom. unsurprisingly. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. no less). the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. Cobra beer. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). the Monster. Crocs shoes. Insects. anthropomorphic mobile phones. dolphins. the logo. ladybirds. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. Shell petrol. This is very much in keeping
. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. cuckoos cause trouble. In some cases. whereby the brand name. Le Coq Sportif. vegetables and plants (e. mix. mystify. 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. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. Woodpecker cider. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. Jaguar cars. Aliens. spiders. Broadly speaking. Birds. Mr Clean. Camel cigarettes. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. fireflies and. Wild animals are rather less popular. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. However. the Calvin Klein polo pony. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. bring up the rear. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. multiply. Mr Peanut. eagles and horses are popular in America. South Africa of springboks. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. Australia of kangaroos. caterpillars. Penguin books. Betty Crocker. for instance. seahorses. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). when the space race. Californian Raisins. etc). furthermore. Puma sportswear. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. Tom Tomato). More recently.chickens. turtles and lizards. France is fond of roosters. albeit butterflies. the Aflac duck.3 A secular trend is evident too. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. The first of these involves national animals. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. storks bring children. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). The match model is characterised by congruence. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). freedom. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. Kangaroos sneakers. needless to say. fecundity. as are personified fruits. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. Cap’n Crunch cereal. Toilet Duck. the Lacoste crocodile. Dove deodorant. whales. perhaps surprisingly.g. the Dodge ram. Chiquita Banana. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie.
two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. basically speak on behalf of the brand. is perhaps the
. the Budweiser Clydesdales. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. That said. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. the belief that if one critter is good. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. The fourth stage. similarly.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. by contrast. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. the Hush Puppies basset hound. Leo. Geoffrey.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. Since 1994. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. all things considered. begat Chipper. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. the penguin. Multiply. Chester. black. rarely go off the rails and. the Trix rabbit. the Toys R Us giraffe. the Airwick ostrich. animal mascots are not immortal. Beauregard. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). whose name you’ll never ever guess. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. each with their own colourful personality. the Lacoste crocodile. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. the 9Lives spokescat. the MGM lion. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. In effect. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. way back when. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. but the mystify strategy is something else again. indeed. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. believe me). Larabee. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. except that they work for free. Maturity is marked by multiplication. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. glowering. the Kool cigarettes penguin. At one stage. Morris. the Cheetos cheetah. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. though. the HMV dog. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. Willie. don’t complain. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. 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. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. Congenital critter creep is one thing. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. fire-breathing dog with six legs. Nipper.
Pace Goya. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. gender. cheeky monkeys. etc. In general terms. animals remain fair game. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. more cherubic. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. Their characters. A daffy duck or lazy lion or irritating chipmunk or thieving magpie is perfectly acceptable in a TV commercial but a stupid Polak or idle Irishman or infuriating mother-in-law or lightfingered gypsy is almost unimaginable nowadays. more cuddly. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. stupid cows. gets younger. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. religion.most fascinating of all. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. sly foxes. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. the sleep of reason produces mascots. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). 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. etc. In this regard. if anything. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. so too today’s terrorist outrages. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. promiscuous rabbits etc. uncertainty and rapid technological change. wise owls. the same is not true of animals.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. perhaps the most important factor behind the fantastic future for brand characters in all their furry finny feathery finery is the fact that it is still permissible to stereotype animal species. 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.7 Whatever else is
. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. I’ve described that at length elsewhere.0 – cf. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. which increases opportunities to view. 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. Le Penguin notwithstanding. nevertheless. continue to be caricatured and vilified. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. more childlike. sexual orientation. age. their personalities. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. social class. like death.6 Be that as it may. True. The brand character. their “natures”. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”.
www. Tony the Tiger’s only son. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. Totemism.rollingstone. New York. p. the more things stay the same. Note. xi. check out Stephen Brown. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). however. Matt Taibbi. 2000). “The great American bubble machine”. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. griffins. Stephen J. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. 2001). 1979. Lovejoy. [original 1962]. 2. pp.8
Notes and References 1. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. 89). The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press.said. 4. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. The sum effect is arrested development. trans. phoenixes. p. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). 129. Cambridge. Stewart Guthrie. more submissive. p. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. 1964. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Anthropomorphically. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. at any rate. BTW. 3. 5. 2009). longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. in years to come. p. London. 2009. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile.This worldview. If you want to suffer further. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. Gould. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. 8. far less hardy. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. 88 (1).
. accessed 4 May 2010. 89) explains. London. incidentally. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. Natural History. many of which can fly (dragons. 1936). Claude Lévi-Strauss. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Pegasus and so on). C’est la vie. My database.com. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. London. Cambridge. 2004). Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. 13 July. 7. 30-36. Oxford. 1995). is brilliantly described in Arthur O. The more things change in western capitalism. 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. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. about our great economic cataclysm. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified.