The Penguin’s Progress

:
A Mashup for Managers

by

Stephen Brown

In Loving Memory

Isobel Brown (1919-2008)

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

Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding . Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples.Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony. Tony.

Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. presumably. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The totem poles of native Americans. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. There’s one thing I do know for certain. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010.1 Twenty years hence. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. 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 Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. pig. How he got in my pyjamas. A great mascot. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. Apuleius. Andersen and Adams. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. 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”. Chicago Bears. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. We’re anthropomanes. however. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. Sydney Swans). on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. is a universal trait. as are our haircuts (pony-. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. It is ancient and ineradicable. one and all. They are the embodiment of the brand. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. like Tony the Tiger.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing.and duck-tails). the constellations in the heavens. Anthropomorphism. We may learn to love “Mandeville” and “Wenlock” and wonder why on earth anyone would want to describe them as “insipid extras from some Pixar spin-off”. I don’t know. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. dance steps . via the “beast fables” of Aesop. the signs of the Chinese zodiac.

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

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

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

Reduced availability increases desire. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. Thumper. 2010. 4. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. the brand may benefit in the long term. 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. However. likewise. Childishness. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. “Money”. The Observer. there’s one other issue. 2010 Notes and References 1. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. Richard the Lionheart). “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. Oh yeah. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. 2. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. . is not to be sneezed at. p. 2010.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. Donald Duck). Thomas the Tank Engine). “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. 23 May. 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.make the products more readily available. 31. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. Christine. Strictly speaking. Dumbo. free gifts. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. Zoomorphism is the opposite. for instance). right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. nostalgia-prone world. “reification”. “Crocodile” Dundee. But don’t take my word for it. 3. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. see Matt Williams. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. targeting the child within is no bad thing. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. 4 June. as was the dismayed £ sign. Campaign. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. as academics like me are inclined to do. p. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996.

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m calling security” spiel. Orlov.an “how dare you”. Pegasus looked unimpressed. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. She’s full of it you know. She says you’re a sell out. We’ve still got a wish in hand. A god’s gotta graft. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. I’m not choosy. Bella seized her chance. and don’t look so surprised.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. “you shouldn’t be here”. as you can see. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. If so.” “Your wish is my command. Once one sponsor departs. I’m not proud. I’m the offspring of Medusa.” Pegasus whinnied. Just ask Tiger. that its father. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry. BTW. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. She says you’re dead horsemeat. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. “The Roc sends her regards. Oh. Orlov. 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. Whatever.” Bella acknowledged. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. in case you’d forgotten.” “Yes. Orlov cut the creature off. the rest soon follow. I dropped Bellerophon in it.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. Poseidon. Call her. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. It’s the way of the world. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. she does. Bella. there’s only two of us. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. “Is that so?” “Yes.” . remember. However.

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VII

Brands Can Only Get Better

Chapter Nineteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

she was gone. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. Louis. On Kipling’s call. the scribe. Bella hugged Aleksandr. 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. . the arbiter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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