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A Mashup for Managers
In Loving Memory
Isobel Brown (1919-2008)
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead
Tony. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding .Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony. Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples.
We’re anthropomanes.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. How he got in my pyjamas. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. Sydney Swans). as are our haircuts (pony-. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. is almost as priceless as MasterCard.and duck-tails). There’s one thing I do know for certain. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. Anthropomorphism. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man.1 Twenty years hence. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. I don’t know. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. A great mascot. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. is a universal trait. however. They are the embodiment of the brand.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. Andersen and Adams. presumably. 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. dance steps . are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. It is ancient and ineradicable. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. Apuleius. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. one and all. The totem poles of native Americans. pig. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. 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”. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. the constellations in the heavens. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. 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”. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. Chicago Bears. like Tony the Tiger.
apes in the corner office. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. breathing. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. fat cats. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. are routinely regarded as organisms. consciousness. Ninja Turtles).4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. computer games (EyePet. for example). Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. Fred Basset). it is a developmental trait. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. bunny hop.5 What’s more. men on the moon. black swans. It helps us identify potential predators. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”.9 Business organisations. SimAnimal. dancing elephants. orbiting hairballs. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. associated with childhood in particular. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters. animal spirits. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. 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. Far Side. cash cows. hearts. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. big hairy audacious goals. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. it is arguably most rampant in business and management.6 Even natural scientists. find that this is much easier said than done. lungs. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. hive minds. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. tarantella). which considers our earth to be a living. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. 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. limbs and the like. Getting it right means survival.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. Angry Birds). attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. with brains. storytelling squirrels and so forth. cheese moving mice. welfare. Needless to say. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. cartoon strips (Peanuts. If anything. dead dogs. For others. emotions. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation.3 For some. furthermore. graphic novels (Maus. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. Fables. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality.(foxtrot. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. self- . its ubiquity is not in doubt. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. getting ducks in a row. hidden hands. because it is in our best interest to do so. long tails. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis.
As such. Black Beauty. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. Guinness. It’s a work. flourish and fight for the right to party. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition.10 Indeed. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. much to the relief of consumers. managers and would-be marketing managers.regulating entity. But many of them lack pizzaz. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. Wind in the Willows. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. the legendary American adman. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by.11 Viewed in this context. is to educate as well as entertain. Its ultimate aim. Who Moved My Cheese?. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. much less White Fang. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. is “alive inside”. . A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. much as I hate the neologism. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. However. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent. both tearful and terrifying. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. forage. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. Squirrel Inc. Or. The Way of the Rat. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic.13 This is a book about brand mascots. after a fashion. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. Watership Down. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. Undergraduate students especially. flirt. Meanwhile. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. Peacock in a Land of Penguins.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. 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. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. of edutainment for marketers. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. Winnie-the-Pooh. to be more precise. moreover. 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. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. Brer Rabbit. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. There are lots of books about brands and branding. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. insofar as it features a secondary world. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. say.
new whatever). however. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. The fifth P. though. Consumers. The theories. are inherently conservative (raving fans. they . new product. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. they extend the range. if one makes a move (new feature. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. is quintessence. Worse. especially so). shake things up and refresh the brand. new platform. like the fifth element. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. frankly. Products and services do not sell themselves. In a world of identikit products and services. the exemplification of that niche. Persuasion is the key word here. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. facts and more facts. To Thy Own Brand Be True. becoming the embodiment. in the mass. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. by and large. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. Hopefully. Managers feel the need to make changes. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know.As a storyteller. it is matched forthwith. The best loved brands. however. The go-to brand. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. though. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. they are prone to the next big thing thing. The Customer is Always Right Wing. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. for fear of being left behind. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. persuaded. of antipathy. better yet. have been around for a very long time. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. cajoled. All the way to Clone City. new offer. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. They increase output. They don’t need more of anything. hive minds and what have you. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. Action-minded by inclination. of out-and-out obstinacy.15 The Fifth P is a Q. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. the epitome. then. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. It is also true of principles. Just for you. long before customers feel that way. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. not to say a “take-away” or two. They have to be convinced. all of which are functionally equivalent. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. prosumers. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains.14 I’m conscious. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. Less is Sore. in short. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. The Next Big Thing Thing.
And there’s some truth is these perceptions. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. there’s one other issue. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. Dumbo. 3. Reduced availability increases desire. for instance). “Crocodile” Dundee. nostalgia-prone world. Thumper. is not to be sneezed at. 2010. Thomas the Tank Engine). which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Donald Duck). I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. But don’t take my word for it. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. 2010 Notes and References 1. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. Zoomorphism is the opposite. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. see Matt Williams. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. p. “Money”. 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. p. Richard the Lionheart). Oh yeah. the brand may benefit in the long term. 23 May. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Strictly speaking. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. likewise. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa.make the products more readily available. free gifts. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. 4. targeting the child within is no bad thing. 31. Childishness. as was the dismayed £ sign. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. 4 June. Campaign.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. 2. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. “reification”. as academics like me are inclined to do. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. 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. . Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. The Observer. 2010. Christine. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. However. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats.
23 May. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. for example.4. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. It’s full of animal errors. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. 2010. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. Incidentally. 9. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. Cambridge. 10. 5. 2006). But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. They are bland at best and boring at worst. 11. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. 343-373. are second to none. 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. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. Needless to say. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. 1993). a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. London. 215). The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. don’t be ugly…be cute”. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. The Observer. by all accounts. New York. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. Gareth Morgan. 2009). The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. 2005). The companies acts. 2007). 1992). The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. 1998. London. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. pp. Richard Conniff. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. London. the character may well go global in due course. Oxford. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. Journal of Consumer Research. The Sunday Times. 14. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. London. “Smarter than you think”. 8. 13. 2010. BTW. John Berger. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. 2008) and Tony Thorne. p. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. According to Morgan Trimble. Kennedy. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. Naturally. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. it’s not completely inaccurate either. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. Lions. 12. . 7. Images of Organization. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. p. This book. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. London. “If you want to survive. 15. 14. nevertheless. 6. soporific and so forth. See. 24 (3). updated edition (Sage. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. “Scientists are people too. the key statement is John S. stories are on the up and up. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. 2005). Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. 17 January. insipid. They fail to appreciate that conflict. 19. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses.
16. The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. . This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. sugar and so on). bottled water. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods.). though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. salt. etc.
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. She had more important things on her mind. hot to trot. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. Paris.” she said. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. gloves. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. for one. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. Bella Adélie shook her head. what do you think? Am I way cool. you know. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. Fashion. She twisted and turned. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. She needn’t have bothered. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. a joint venture with Versace. bending this way and that. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. one-piece costumes. Not only were they completely unnecessary. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. Silo and Roy. “I’m not sure pink suits you. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. struggling to keep her face straight. “Hmmm. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly.” The tease worked.” Exasperated. beakaplasty. “Seriously. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. The fad started innocently enough. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. was almost as well known as . berets. Pounds too. figure-hugging. The S&R logo. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies.” Paris pouted. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. “Pelican pink is so this season. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. “It’s a Silo & Roy.
” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. The sea was calm. others contended. You should try some of this. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. She adored McDonald’s. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. kicked up a heel. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. which was tantamount to tropical. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. the wind was light. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. iPods to dolphins. a spoiled rich kid. “With your genes. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. crunchy crustaceans. you should be more careful. A sob stuck in her crop. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. whirled. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. admiring her outfit. the sky was blue. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or .” Bella replied lightly. she twirled.” Paris warned. darling. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. yet others complained. “Mmmmm. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. Bella. as she so often did. “I’m sorry. Bella. and share a McFlurry with the great man. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. I’m lovin it.” She said it without thinking. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. simpered. Mmmmm. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. smiled. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. the temperature hovered around freezing. But Bella knew better.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. in truth. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. some said. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach.” Paris stuttered.Armani’s stylised eagle. An egomaniac. Consequently. Or several. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. It’s delish. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. Paris. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. she was a bit roomy at the rear. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. For all her selfabsorption.” Bella mumbled.
Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. Casting next week. sniggering. Darling. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. Gastric band. flipper on hip. if she was related to a leopard seal. her uniqueness. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. like hedge-hopping rainbows. But Paris declined. Paris wiped her eyes. bar none. Cerise was chichi. They’re making another Madagascar movie. “No can do. in fact.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. I’ve got something for you. Bella. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. Watch my walk and tell me what you think.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. Except that pink was now in.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. Paris. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Paris. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance.” Bella said.” Bella commanded. Okay. “Don’t be a silly billy. starve now. “Okay. I trust. Bella. A gift? Tiffany. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. Penguin porn degrades our species. She did. Right now. “What do you reckon?” she called. her gene pool. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. posing provocatively. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. much better than black. black and more black.” “What.” . “Here. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. Be honest. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. “Come here immediately. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. I won’t take no for an answer. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. surely you know that. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris.” Paris exploded with laughter. On the contrary.asked. where elephant seal pups frolicked. “Get this down your gullet. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. Clearly. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. 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. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her.” “Oh goodie. Brown was the new black. They looked delicious. flicking open the Happy Meal container. fast later. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. admittedly. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. You’re coming with me to the food court.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers.
The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway.” “No. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. apparently. “Tell you what.” “Well. oblivious to the threat.” “Whatever you say. right?” “Le Tigre.” Bella shouted back.” “Grrrr. tossed her up into the air. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. The role’s already in the bag. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. She knew that the part was hers. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. Panic stricken.” Paris doth protest too much. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. “Grrrrrrrr. just in case. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. “Grrr. They’ve been performing since incubation. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. Bella mused. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. I’ll be fine. if not before. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. “I always carry one.” the soon-to-be superstar said. Penguinapping is commonplace. you know how it is in showbiz. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. “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. maybe?” “Um. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines.” Filling up. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. Paris hugged her mottled companion. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. as anyone would. never mind “this’ll do fine”. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. Her face was a frozen mask.” Bella knew very well. as was the polar predator’s wont. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk.” growled a gigantic leopard seal.” she said with an apologetic smirk. Grrrrr. She turned to her companion on shore.“And the drastic gastric band. hoping against hope that . Bella.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin.
Tearful. Ripped. There was no sign of life. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. she fished the outfit out. indeed. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. Bella wept.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. A dismembered limb. Aghast. Bloodstained. her designer pride and joy. bitten and bloody. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. . Sodden. To die for. Bella took a closer look.
the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. Picking up speed as they descended. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. she clambered up the ice steps. clusters of chinstraps. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. in the lee of the LG glacier. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. species and stripe. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. With a heavy heart. the views were spectacular. There were knots of kings. expectant. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. Gentoos. where she paused to catch her breath. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. overcome with grief. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. belching. In more ways than one. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. The sun was stronger. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. nevertheless. onto its snow-strewn top. like stones across a millpond. hushed. No parent. Blamed. Stifling a sob. Oddly. bands of blackfoots. weeping all the while. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. bellowing elephant seals. What else could she do? It was her duty. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. perhaps. Distraught. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. A microphone screeched. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. more likely. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. the agglomeration was completely silent. as everyone knows. Reported to the penguin police force. stumbled toward the shoreline. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. and emerged huffing and puffing. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. penguins of every imaginable breed.
He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. blubbery macaroni. the sapphire-studded collar. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. Not now. Her presence was not appreciated. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation.multitudes. It was magnificent. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. “is Dr Dogeatdog. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. though. Although she was well used to hostility. Curiously.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. As the long way round would have taken forever. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. His crest.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. lying. S&R. Devils in disguise. “This. who were no-good. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. bloated. bitch. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. BrandLand. Until the crowd closed up. Lookin’ good.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. double-dealing. “Nice outfit. as the star took to the stage.. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. the carefully clipped pelt. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. They couldn’t be trusted. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. Her rate of progress improved immediately. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. Not never. Hesitantly. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. husky or not. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. 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. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. some bristled their feathers. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. nodding their approval. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs.. she had no alternative. cheating layabouts. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. A few snooty royals turned to attack. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood.
Out. Penguins are out of fashion. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly.” Dogeatdog reported. Out. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. Out. The bubble of blarney. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. ACME. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . ACME’s chief executive. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. Shouts of “ACME. Out. they’d be okay. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. overstretched. ACME. “Six weeks ago. Emperors exploded in anger. the worst in living memory. blether. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. ACME. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. to be precise. The penguin brand is overexposed. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. Worse. ACME. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. Worse was to come from the canine. Penguins have jumped the shark. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot.” The uproar was indescribable. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. Over. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. has concluded that a cull is called for. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. Penguins have saturated the market. bluster. ACME. Out. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. “ACME. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst.” Screeches of feedback. 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. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. A 10% cull. in other words. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. Whatever happened. oversold. Out. Charlie the Tuna. and that’s saying something. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. on account of the drastic economic recession. the legendary Mr Kipling. The kings kept their own council. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. however. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they.
a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. as the order’s most overexposed species. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers.” 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. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. We’ve got to face facts. Good day to you all. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. chinstraps and gentoos. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.” Le Penguin croaked. if the least high profile. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice.” Ever the showman. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. no penguin gain. It was a done deal. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. “Fellow penguins. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. He announced that his own macaronis. his raddled face set in serious mien. No. The decision is yours. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders.” The big screen went blank. he paused for effect. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. We’ve cornered the mascot market. “the last few years have been good for us. by far the most populous penguin species. Why would there be? . I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. “Brothers and sisters. They know what needs to be done. a blessing in disguise. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. No penguin pain. his voice a low-throated rumble. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type.term. Indeed. We’ve got to get back to basics. He reported that the emperors. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. No.” he began. The multitude fell silent once more. However. There were no dissenting voices.
pitch-black ice tunnel. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. Bella was falling behind. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. their marvellously mottled appearance. The superslick surface. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. Her parents were dead meat. Digging in her heels made no difference. rockhoppers. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. their difference. Petrified. Paris’s parents would have to wait. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. it came pretty close. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. She had to warn them. On the contrary. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. 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.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. Bella jumped feet first into the void. The rookery nook. breathing heavily. they’d taken pride in their otherness. 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. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. There was only one thing for it. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. was almost entirely frictionless. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. There was no time to waste. it was a death trap. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. Bella stared into the chasm. anything. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. with murder in mind. she closed . Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. She had to do something. however. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs.
A crab. you slimy son of a sheathbill. Anguished. backing it into a corner. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. She screeched and tried to stop. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. but a great divide in the path. Ffffft. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. “I’ve got you now. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. Luckily. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. Some nests were still warm. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. Bella cried out. most likely. Excitedly. Then stopped. she advanced toward the creature. she clambered over the rocky detritus. deserted. Ffffffft. licking his lips. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. Fffft. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. it wasn’t a wall. Then started again. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. panting with exhaustion. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. They’d been rounded up already. A petrel. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. Ffft. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. carooming. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. The wetsuit. A large leopard seal loomed before her. yet with a mounting sense of dread. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. probably. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. Our Flipper.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. Flippers fully extended. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. twitching.” . Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. Fffft. It stopped. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. A dirty rotten rat. skimming. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. Something was moving. close to her parents’ nest. She opened her eyes fractionally. was ripped to shreds. in the community’s communal crèche. hunched behind a boulder. disturbed the eerie silence. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. And failed. She didn’t know which way to turn. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. It was completely devoid of life. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. They’d been taken away and taken out. though. Ffft. possibly.
“How dare you address me like that. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. My catchphrase is Simples. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. but I am big in Britain and Russia and.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. the proud possessor of 600. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. With a so-what show of indifference. “Modesty forbids. “Aleksandr Orlov. elbow up – then casually blew a cloud of noxious smoke in the face of his would-be assailant. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. Not in a good way. you understand.” he sighed.” Orlov said. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. “You. I think you have.” “Simples?” “Simples. “I haven’t finished with you yet.” Bella was at a loss. I don’t know who you are. Very. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression.” Bella was baffled. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. all things considered. I am the face of a price comparison website. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket.Astonishingly. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. the slender-torsoed. We know a .” he drawled.” “Oh.000 Twitter followers and 3. of course. Towering head and shoulders above her. Sleepy. trying her best to appear menacing. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. a radio talk-show compère.” he drawled.000 Facebook friends. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. “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. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. my dear.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. Taken aback. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. bless his cotton candy socks.6 million hits on my homepage. “Sleepy. The Russian steppes are thataway. Very.” the penguin snarled. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. London’s over there somewhere. 32. dragging deeply. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. erect-eared. at your service. sharp-faced. Sleepy. you disgusting wetback.
Flat Eric’s been there. “Suit yourself. he dropped off the grid. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME. Hit singles. ripped and ragged. They’re here.” Bella started to step aside.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. she blocked his path. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils.” “I see.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. much less dun-coloured rodents. Enormous name recognition. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. The S&R wetsuit lay. Nor did Orlov. It’s a life-long learning.” he said. “Too late. Not so Simples now. But I prefer not to mix with the. right beside the isabelline refuge. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. she was first in line for the chop. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.” “Mmmmm. um. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. We meerkats are social animals. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. “since you put it like that. “Well. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. “Simples. 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. “Sorry. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. However. “He was a sort of soft toy.” He made to go.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. “Flat Eric. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. where she’d left it. if you must know. As the only mottled penguin in residence. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads.” But Bella beat him to it.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. 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. not to say subliminal advertising. They looked resolute. perhaps we could pool our resources.thing or two about hypnotism. Flippers on hips. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. Two species are better than one. He looked around.” With a glottal gabble. I’m looking for someone. Advertising awards. He knows the score. a sock puppet.” He winked. . avian classes. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. meerkat.” Bella shook her head. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave. “I don’t think so. as if taking in the cave for the first time.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
They paused at the mouth of the cave. Every second was precious. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. mercifully. 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. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. There was no escape. “Well. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. although the fit was tight. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. Indomitable.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. tear. you flat-footed fool.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. who stopped again.and snow-filled shaft. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. as he excavated ever-faster. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. but nothing like it used to be. adélies are much more petite than emperors. “Meerkats. searching for the ice.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. Their bulk. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. scurrying. scampering.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. don’t you know. There was no way those monsters could follow. Bella snuggled in behind him and. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. Bella shook her head. determined. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. There’s still a bit of discrimination. ever-upward. he was off. clawing like crazy. She struggled to keep up. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery. uncompromising. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. Orlov seized the moment. She could hear them discussing their strategy. blocking out the bright sunlight. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. I can’t believe it’s not butter. The old enmities are behind us. “Let’s go. We didn’t think we needed it any more. suspecting a trap. they said. stab. And bickering amongst themselves.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs.
The man’s a slave driver. They never let anyone forget it. They had a lot of reshoots too. dashing forward. However. My routine is sacrosanct. The place was deserted. my dear. but ACME is not on my agenda. apparently. They’re big girl’s blouses. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. though. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. “Oh.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. Enjoy the twilight while you can. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. “dandies discard. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. not a penguin. It must be adhered to rigorously. through the worst of the winter.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. claymation models. digging. You’ll have a lot to talk about. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. not a skua. “Impossible. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. Orlov just kept digging. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. Orlov scampered alongside. blocking her path. darting back.” Chastened for the moment. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. Their feet sank in with a hiss. body doubles. The thin crust gave way from time to time. digging. frankly. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. Orlov said nothing. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. allegedly. “Forgive me. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued.” Agitated. not a shearwater in sight. They’re famous for it. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. I’ll accompany you for a little while.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. “When danger calls. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. The snow squeaked as they walked. digging. “Sundown?” she scoffed. Or earshot. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. Stand-ins. They march for months on end. He fell into step beside Bella. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . he spluttered.” he observed. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. You have a lot in common. even more gallantly. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. The reshoots were ridiculous. sometime in the middle of April. you know. then it’s midnight through September. “The rookery’s thataway. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. Gallantly. Simples.” Bella snorted. dropping down on all fours.” With a heavy sigh. Pity. if you’ve had enough for one day.
Let’s wake him. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. still with snow under the nails. fast asleep. On me. sleepy. Do you believe me now. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. snoring loudly. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes.” Orlov inveigled. I think you’re my kind of penguin. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. “What’s that?” he said. Let me know how you get on. Bounding towards them at top speed.” he purred.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. bigger than a mangy moggy. “The bear is completely under my power. the meerkat refused to budge. Smaller than a snow leopard. A black dot was coming towards them.” “My paws were cold.” Louis meowed throatily. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. Poleaxed. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. “It was because it didn’t work.” “The simples minded. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. preventing further progress. A wild cat. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion.” Bella apologised. He rose up on his hind legs. so far from home. they ploughed on. “I like a bird with spirit.” Bella said. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. It works on everyone. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. at your service. “Explain yourself.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. that is. perhaps. pointing into the distance.” She made to move on. Astounded. But you didn’t believe me. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. Chins tucked in. You’re a minx. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. “Yes. Minxes and lynxes . A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. “Louis the Lynx. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. apart from a slight headache. that’s what you are. It was feline. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. You mocked the master. “I told you I could do it. Smirking. Orlov stopped suddenly. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. I’m out of here. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. Bravely.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home.
were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”
“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”
Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales
Plus. Ask yourself. Lhasa Apsos and the like. . since Axe carries connotations of execution.” Louis mused.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. moreover. wildlife programmes in particular. hope. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. he was a busted flush. They make movies about mice that speak. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. lions that sing show tunes. We’re built on a bubble of belief. “How come you know so much about marketing. don’t you. big-eared baby elephants that can fly.” Louis chuckled.territories. adélies. I can see the campaign now. my dear boy. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. sensing a stay of Axecution. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits.” Orlov smiled. anyhow?” “Simples.” Orlov boasted. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. Even his chortle was charming. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. not that there’s much else to admire. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. as Neolithic cave art attests. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. Anything after. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. red. extermination. “Anthropomorphism. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. “don’t knock it. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. the bigger and nastier the better. moreover. Lurchers. with a grin. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. desire. Louis asked. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time.” “Hey. putting poor critters down. advertising. so selling to them is the next natural step. Orlov lit up. crows that crack jokes. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. When you put it like that.” Bella quipped. Anything before B he was unbeatable. A sexy smelly shampoo. a brand in a highly competitive market. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. Louis laughed out loud. I read Wikipedia incessantly. “Correct. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand.” “Hmmmm. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. You test the things on animals. But she wasn’t quick enough.
the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. With an almighty roar. “it was all a mistake. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. “Actually. Or a meow meow overdose. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Penguins pong pretty bad.” The group descended into grumpy silence. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. the moraine started moving. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. You tried to run off.” Louis was at a loss. Bella wondered.” Orlov observed dryly. What wild accusations. Bella and Louis said nothing. Bella felt sleepy. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. A joint venture. cruel culling. He’s not best pleased. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. well. Mmmmm. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. She tried to resist. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. Louis. though. Feathers? .What do they put into their toiletries. Has been for years and years. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. she wondered. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. The earth quaked. like a karaoke Krakatoa.” Orlov said testily. 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. the Romanovs. the hillock erupted. I wanted to rouse it.” “You suggested no such thing. His eyesight is not what it was. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. He thinks I’m the fox. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. “Yes. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. Eyes drooping.” he said. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. I couldn’t shake him off. understandably. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. perhaps. Or Freudian psychosis. Their shelter. scratching occasionally. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. she looked around. Maybe when their ACME quest was over.
“Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. Encouraged. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. with a smirk. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. as well as Aesop. Zis . Bella knew better than to fall for that one. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. they might even end up where they wanted to be. uh. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories. Ally of Aladdin.” “So. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. none of which are tested on ze animals. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention.” Orlov insisted. Companion to Marco Polo.” Bristling. “Zis is not BrandLand. isn’t it?” he said. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD.” the Roc crowed. no less. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. s’il vous plait. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. it isn’t. Having watched the negotiations in silence. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics.” Bella added. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie. as for Andersen. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. “SoHo. “Zat is so. Flipper. “We have three wishes. “I am Roc. “Well.” “Zat is impossible. Bella chanced her arm.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. face creams. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. rather. “Three wishes. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other. Hans Christian.” “No. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. flapped them vigorously. “But this is BrandLand. Not only were they getting somewhere.” Louis said. Everyone knows zat. “Zat I can.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. Unscented.” “Zat I am. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. 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. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. He knew his Ali Baba too and.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. Lord of ze skies. if it’s not out of your way. with poststructuralist precision.” the creature conceded. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. “How far can you take us. while hopping from foot to foot. Acquaintance of Ali Baba.” Gallic to its wingtips.
” Orlov commanded.” . “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. as yet untouched by civilisation. “is Adarctica. “We’ll make our own way from there. a contiguous territory.” he sniffed.is a mere dominion. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding.” “D’Accord.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. Zis.
into the eye of the snowstorm. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. in all its magnificence. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. . and advertisers don’t either. The storm-tossed. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. then took off vertically. he knew there was nothing to fear. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. eventually.” Louis said. snow-capped mountain ranges. They dismounted shakily. The meerkat glared at him. never mind jumbo jets. “If it offers us a choice of seating. as her mother often observed. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage.” “Yeah.” “According to ancient myth and legend. inviting. BrandLand. Wings fully extended. Beckoning. Orlov. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. as its tagline proclaimed. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. Many hours later.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. heading north. taking in the scene. don’t travel claw class. with a disbelieving look. sat calmly. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. Having read up on aeronautics. rising thermals. by contrast. the bird-borne party was above the storm. it flapped once or twice. then invited the threesome to mount. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. Isabellines can’t be choosers. lake-dappled lowland.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. aerobatics. Far from being dropped from a very great height. And we’re not talking Dumbos. the trio was taken by the scenic route. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. Clinging on for grim life. lay spread-eagled beneath them. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. A driving tail wind. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. Back-beating furiously. Within a few minutes. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. And then some. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. captivating. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. With a low rumble of discontent.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie.
took over in his most schoolmistressy manner.” Conciliatory though it was. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. PDQ.An acknowledged expert in domain names. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. We’ve only had one wish. and make Mr Kipling see sense. My contract is complete. disconcertingly.” Louis enthused. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them.” Orlov. pronto. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. Pop and similar elfish creatures. then took to the air. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. The threesome looked up expectantly. directly ahead. Our task is to get to Madhattan. the local authority. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district.” the big bird boomed. penguin. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. One wish per passenger. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. find ACME ASAP. We’ve two more to play with. surely. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. we might learn much along the way. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. Crackle. “Am I free to go. 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. We might learn much from big biomass brands. In the far distance. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned.” “Can’t you count. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. “And we’re not on vacation. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. the stomping ground of Snap. Be veri.” the Roc said disdainfully. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. reportedly.” “This isn’t a theme park. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. swirling. wondering which territory to try first. “A word of advice. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. USA. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. “Steer clear of ze jungle. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. the Lacoste crocodile. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. The Roc refused to elaborate.” With that. .” Bella snapped.” it said. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. veri careful.
plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. “Only the crumbliest. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. “I may be mistaken. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. Each accused the other of ignorance. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons.” Bella muttered. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. Every so often. “A Mars a day”. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. a frisky Ferrari broke free. Bella left them to it. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. Bella recognised some of the tunes. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. she was too astounded to rest. Orlov. Jingles rather. Perplexed. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. larch and juniper. . following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. birch-fringed. tussock-strewn. the My Little Pony palominos. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. like an Alpine Shangri-la. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales.” the meerkat said. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. Louis scampered after her. after being frozen in flight. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams.“The nerve of it. joined the others on their high country hike. stream-silvered dell lay below her. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. arrogance and absence of brand sense. She badly needed a breather. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. Especially for a penguin. “Hands that do dishes”. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. Dangerous though it was. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. plaidshirted. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously.” A row erupted.” “Cardboard cut-outs. making a vast grassy corral. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. flakiest chocolate”. That’s what Paris once told me. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. But when she crested the rise. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. And that’s her smiling flock. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. steaming waterfalls. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. cedar. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. though. A blissful. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. The air was noticeably warmer here. interspersed with red-berried rowans. you twat. Bella stumbled on several occasions. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes.
“Don’t worry. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. He had heard of ACME. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. tilted back his hat and grinned.She signalled for the others to join her. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. the bracing air. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. no siree. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. but paid city slickers no heed. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. “Village people?” Louis echoed. sonorous and compelling. Welcome to God’s own country. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. with an anxious expression. There was no need to explain. Big Emphysema. wide west. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. they’re not axe-murderers. It bespoke Big Country. son. Big Satisfaction. ma’am.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. The advertising icon was bemused. Generously. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. The legend introduced his pardner. Big Flavour. with only cows and cowpokes for company. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. “At your service. Duke’s voice was deep. of course. Much as the trio loved the mountains.” . Big Brand Equity. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. “Mr Marlboro. as were her awe-struck associates. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. Agog. an urban cess pit was their priority. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding.” The older cowboy. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. let alone love. not when there’s a lariat to hand. was impressed. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. where the village people would point them in the right direction. the wide. where men are men. Big Sky. Bella was buying. The bad folks don’t call me at all. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. Whatever he was selling. I presume. The good folks around here call me Duke. Bella opted for a formal greeting. Apart from an occasional wheeze. Even Orlov. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. as did the manicured fields. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. And as for “In the Navy”. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. the cowboy archetype was adopted. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. Modest to a fault. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. “Though if anyone asks. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. If they started up “Macho Man”. But the tat was an accident. might be more than even he could handle. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. 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 chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. Marlboro Country was invented and. the Bon Ami chicken. never will. plus several infuriating false starts. It was originally targeted at female smokers. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. “Never had. “Yes. of all things. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. traffic cops. on account of the filter tip. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. As things stood. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. The rest is history. A camp camp containing red Indians.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. of all things. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined.” Orlov stage whispered. he’d join in the chorus. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. After a fraught brainstorming session. As the party progressed down dale. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding.” In ordinary circumstances. round rivulet and through thicket. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. Louis might have agreed with the rodent.
they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. a time-worn market cross. He glared at his feline acquaintance.. However. watering cans.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. Smelt of chewing tobacco. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. mounting up. with the Kid by his side. as the company advanced into Hamlet. the everenergetic Red Bull. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. Coors Country and their high. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes.” Louis observed. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea.” Bella said wryly. saloon bars. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. the Bisto gravy family. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. A pretty parish church. redundantly. to Louis’s annoyance. garden path. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. edge trimmers. Hamlet half a mile. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. “Wonder what’s eating them. arhar. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. Swan matches and . He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. “What a guy. “Hmmph. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. Then. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. wished them well in their quest for ACME. 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. which looked the worse for wear. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. abandoning lawnmowers. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. wide and handsome cognates. garden hoses.the Anchor butter cows. it said. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. Ar-har. where Aflac ducks. pruning shears. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement.” Bella sighed. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets.. it added. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. He had a peri-peri in every port. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. the Bull Durham bull. overhanging eves. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot.
that were a long time ago. “You must be Gaffer. Nothing. one with a sharp carving knife. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. Archie. or whatever it is they do down there.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. a peppery little man with a self-important air. quacked and chirruped incontinently. “And you must be Maurice. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. brass-banded pumps. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern.” Bella said. they followed him into the homely hostelry.” she went on. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. lad. “We’ve b-b-been…” . All were empty. however. the consummate cuppa-maker. a firkin of gassy French lager. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. “are Sydney. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. polished horse brasses. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar.” The tea folk tittered. “You’re Gordon. Or best bitter.” Bashful as ever. lass. my good fellow. Clarence. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. Or gassy lager. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer.” “Aye.” she continued. wearing blue overalls. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. The leader. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. mine host. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. slippers! – stood between them and the door. The place was deserted. old chap. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. I’d recognise you anywhere. granite inglenook.” the curmudgeon grunted. You look fantastic. if there’s naught else on tap. A line of local yokels. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar.” she concluded triumphantly. Still nothing. simple Sydney smiled shyly. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. as sheepish grins started to appear. a hogshead of mead. Penguins and Tetley go way back. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. They waited for a few minutes. “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. The usual array of barroom grotesques. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. was unsettlingly absent. Undaunted. stepped forward. “We prefer to work with Clubs. “And you.
lass. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. We liked the T-birds. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders. “Tetley. then glared at his gang.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words.” Bella gulped audibly. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. “We’ve been on holiday. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. ominously. Lyons. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. along with Brooke Bond. Lipton.G. But. I suspect. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. Assholes. brand animals like us. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. the T-birds. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. “Tbirds were P. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right.G. brandishing their blunt instruments. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose.” he growled. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals.” . “Tha’s mixing us up with P. Bushells. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. A lot.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad.But he was cut off by Gaffer. Lever lover? Menacingly. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. Because P. “Assam. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. P. He met the T-birds once. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls.G. Could put a word in for them. as did Gordon with his andiron.” “Tannin poisoning. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. Psychosis is not uncommon. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon.G. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it.” Louis groaned. Tips people. Tips is a Unilever brand.” “That’s torn it. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight.G. reminding them who’s boss. yes. Tips. Sydney shuffled his feet. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely.” Orlov whispered.” Gaffer spat. The tea folk advanced. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds.
” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing.” Bella had said.” . Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. and arsehole begins with A. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. oak. “Now push off the pair of you. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. “An old trick. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. beech. Tea’s time is up.G. unobtrusively. “It was brilliant. “The reason you didn’t know about it. There’s nothing to choose between them. insidiously. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. you two. sycamore. unawares. no. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone. Coffee culture’s king. heavy trees. like most FMCGs. lime. ferret. you can bicker without me.” Orlov interrupted. The glory days of P. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking.” Orlov snarled. these were big trees.” “Yes. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. The air was chilly. she decided it would do for the night. I’m amazed they fell for it. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there.” Louis didn’t mince his words.” Bella said. Defeated. Tea brands are identical nowadays. a copycat called Tim Tam.” Louis finally said.” “No. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. “It was nothing. A stroke of genius. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. Night was falling. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. After looking around and sniffing the air. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. poplar. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. walnut. “Look. elm. deciduous trees. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence.” Bella smiled modestly. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating. It tasted delicious too. They’ve reverted to commodities.G. fighting on price. They’d have to stop soon. Tips. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. proper trees like hornbeam. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. Far from the madding firs.
rotten logs. A figure was flitting through the trees. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. only to disappear when anyone came too close. flitting in. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. In a most unladylike manner. only to find herself drifting off. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. exhausted. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. for once. Immediately adjacent to the path. scrutinising the strangers.” With a sigh of contentment. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. Crackle and Pop. when something caught her eye. lay languidly beneath it. And another. Before long. linnets and the like. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. out and around the trees. Smiling. the Schnuffel rabbit. Scania’s and Saab’s. They made good progress through the forest. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. the Hartford elk. “Actually. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. pipits. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. the Trix rabbit. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. the Glenfiddich stag. Vauxhall’s.” Orlov added. she was struck by the absence of bird song. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. she offered a square to Louis. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. Louis was in his element. but it was pleasant all the same. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. The next day saw an early start. “there’s Snap.Chastened. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. Swiftly followed by another. the Nesquik bunny.” “I’m just glad they let us go. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. the Kirin dragon. On picking herself up for the fifth time. she surmised. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. A singularly sultry rabbit. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. a fire was crackling in the glade and. before evaporating into the undergrowth. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. her parents. looked over and waved affably.” Louis laughed. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. wearing a skintight yellow dress. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. Keebler’s elves also showed up. Not this one. Watching the frolicking creatures. most likely. “Look.” Orlov said with atypical glee. the Unibank unicorn. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. with an irresistible .
” Orlov hissed. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. Quick. sotto voce. sniffed the air.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. Bella followed suit. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. she’s cursed. and not a little need for nourishment. Dark Temptation. tongue hanging out.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second.” The lynx laughed in his face. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. Rrrrrrrr. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. Fancy a bite. However. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. mainly nocturnal. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. “they’re solitary creatures too. Quick. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. then shuffled on. they roused Louis who woke . And then some. “Arctophily. which was still rustling. the oldest trick in the book. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. all ponderous.” “Yes. trying not to breathe. “No. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. my.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. peered around myopically. I’m doing him a favour. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. Rrrrrrrrrrr. Louis. actually. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. A for Argonauts. “Aeaea. sensing Bella’s unease. They hunched together biting their tongues. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. Together. then a fourth. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. It’s a trick. Bella bided her time.” In normal circumstances. famously omnivorous creatures. Daddy’s coming baby. “Don’t fall for it. However. “Let me guess. polecat. Well.” she smouldered. She’s Circe. they don’t actually hibernate.” she said. Bravely. since you ask. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. Get out of my way. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. “Quick. It paused for a second. A second bear followed. “My. “Something smells good around here. then a third. This doesn’t look good. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. no. Must hide. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. A big brown bear lumbered past. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. all hulking. An unearthly hush descended. then a steady stream. clicked his foreclaws.” Bella butted in. Bella. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. all growling.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. as if to reset her audio receptors. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. I can see that. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing.
“has left the building. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. Cresta lemonade bear. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. the easyJet bear. black bears. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. cans included. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. before a head shot finished him off. brown bears. Paddington was a sitting duck. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. Even Pudsey.” his said. The massacre was relentless. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. Paddington bear. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. Carried back to the ice floe.” Pooh simpered. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”.” The meerkat spoke too soon. the bears burst into song. the iconic US Forest Service bear. friendly bears. SuperTed. “Let’s get out of here. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. BearPG rifles. Boo Boo bear. as were Pudsey bear. a snivelling wimp at heart. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. fierce bears. In fact. Only Gulliver. The fat bastard. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. meanwhile. Bundaberg rum bear. Appallingly. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. the Hofmeister bear. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. The dell. George. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. Bearzookas.” Hiding in the wounded tree. wasn’t spared by the assassins. the easyJet bear. .” Orlov murmured. It was worse than bear baiting. peeping out a knothole. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. firing indiscriminately. was filling up with bears. “The bear. Gulliver. “Told you so. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. begged on his knees for mercy. SuperTed was also in attendance. Biffo the bear. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. Hamm’s beer bear. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. At least they seemed civilised about it. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. “We should be able to get away then. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear.” hers replied. inevitably. They didn’t get very far. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. whose charitable work is second to none. Larynges lubricated. Big bears. Charmin paper towels bear. Labatt’s blue bear. Smokey. Yogi bear. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. He died with his Wellington boots on.with a blissful smile on his face. the biggest jambearee. “They’ll be asleep before long. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. Pipes were smoked. small bears.
They raised their weapons as one. The dirty deed was done. There was no sign of Winnie. he sealed the fate of his comrades. Supported by Charmin and Cresta. . 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. In so doing.
a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. “I know who did this. A chill was in the air. if only to work out what they were up against. A Lynx card range made sense. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. Bloodstains. “Greeting cards. Suddenly. the better. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. the trio forged ahead. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots.” Louis wept. such was the bloodletting. They pushed on slowly. listening intently for any indication of military activity. Frantically. But drew a blank. you see. We talked joint ventures with them all. sensible as ever. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. stealthily. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. most with decades of distinguished service.” “Okay. They kept going. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front.” Bella said. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. tears streaming down his ashen face.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. On returning to the path several hours later. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac.” They knew she was right. Great mark-ups. the baby-faced ones. jolted out of his rambling account. That’s the frightening thing. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. failing to focus on the salient facts. Very profitable business.” Louis answered dully. Me-to-You they’re called. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. steadily. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. Night was falling.” “Explain. Hallmark’s main rival. “There’s nothing we can do here. Working together. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. man” before breathing his last. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. Heavy shadows fell across the path.” Orlov said calmly.” Orlov ordered. Cautiously. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. frozen in its death throes. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. It doesn’t bear thinking about.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. paw-prints. . The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. you say?” “Yes. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. “Greeting cards. Led by Tatty Teddy.” Louis groaned.
” Bella was incredulous. They struggled along. Eyepet. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. if anything – just that fetches. which stopped them in their tracks. teeth chattering.” “Looks pretty scary to me. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap.” Orlov answered with equanimity. they opted for the latter. bath salts and what have you. “I know what they are. slipping and sliding and slithering. familiars. Country Story. Thousands of critters have been created since. Surely some of them are still with us. sat a glowering gothic castle. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. Until the rain arrived. they made reasonable progress. But shelter found them. The path soon turned into a slough. They’re called Furries. High on a crag. We have nothing to worry about. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. according to recent news reports. above the sodden forest floor.” Louis said. Orlov laughed.” he said. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. Forced to choose between a wet night in the woods – where they’d be assailed by werebrands and blood-sucking Bacardi bats – and a crenellated fortress that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton movie. They’re breakfast cereal characters. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. Pet Society. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. They’re nothing to be afraid of. “That’s no phantasm. cold and cutting. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. It’s simples.” . Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. often in the prime of life. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. deodorant. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. They searched for shelter.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. full and ominous. Second Life players. “Potentially big market for personal care products. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. with witching hour approaching. Bella was exhausted before long. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. The first brand character dates from 1877. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. At night. “Think about it.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. Never the best of hikers. I don’t like the look of them.” Louis said.” Louis said. never mind feline chat-up lines. Invizimals. no. Most have been axed ruthlessly. They’re avatars. “I think I know what this place is. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy.
Be careful what you say.” Louis ventured. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws.” it shrieked. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. Mr Lynx. She had second thoughts. much less amused.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. It’s Mummy. as the drawbridge fell. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. mead and beeswax markets. “Tell them about the honey bunny. lined with oil paintings. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. “I’m waiting. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. head tilted back. shields. was positively cadaverous. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. He looked enormously pleased with himself. Bella was too tired to care. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment.Orlov was not convinced. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. By then it was too late to retreat. After licking his lips with relish. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. lances. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. the portcullis rose. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. The travellers looked at each other. however. 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. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. The latter included Dumbo. His cavernous smile. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. Tigger. nor were Piglet. We didn’t see anything. Bizarrely. But not the once and future Honey Monster. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. . until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. wondering what he was waiting for. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. swords and stuffed animal heads. “Mummy. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. though.” the creature rasped. always on the creepy side of welcoming. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. Mummy”. Bagheera.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. “Mummy. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. spread out on a table before him. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier.
His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. we’re history. hence the bee laboratories. As if by magic. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role.” “Lucky for us. So it proved on this occasion. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. “It’s simples. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. we’ll never get to ACME.” Bella gloomed.Shaken to the core. it was the least he could do. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep.” Orlov hissed. after breakfast. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. As every brand manager knows. psychological or otherwise. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest.” “Keep your voices down. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. “There’s no honey in Penguins. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. Let’s keep it that way. as the reality of their situation hit home. he showed the threesome around his stately home. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. mummy!” they shouted in unison. like himself. He doesn’t know what we know. The next morning. Walls have ears. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. “Tell them about the honey. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. Apparently. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. “All together now. Otherwise. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. pausing to point out the bee laboratory.” Bella was not amused. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders.” Orlov said.” she murmured. Just as music calms the savage breast.” She looked at Orlov coldly. “Or he’ll overhear us.” Louis chipped in. so too slogans calm the savage brand. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. Doom was unaccountably delayed.” “We’re doomed.
Character Mediation Enterprise.” the Honey Monster said. . innocently. “Not that kind of pooh. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting. without smiling. “I thought honey was a natural laxative.” Orlov observed.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
raising its paws and barking excitedly. rivulets. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. golden. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. railings. dodging. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. leaping. A perfect day was in prospect. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel.” Legend the unicorn announced. It was replaced by frantic barking. offering little by way of illumination. stood before them wagging its tail. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. Luckily.” Orlov reassured his companions. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. fences. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. giving way to the rich arable farmland . A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. was pretty impressive. All of a sudden. “Don’t be afraid.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. Bella. A gigantic silver Greyhound. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. sleek and in perfect physical condition. There was no sign of Cerberus. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. circling steeply upwards. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. Peanuts.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. What there was. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. air-conditioned cabin. the brand band exchanged wary glances. where it charged between the trees. Increasingly alarmed. They should buy us some time. strapped them in securely and. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. long. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. saplings. though. gratifying. while straining on its leash. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. glorious. tree stumps. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. The growling stopped. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. bounding over fallen logs.
” Louis said casually. Wild Beasts. Seven minutes later. Central Park Zoo. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. rubbing salt into the wound. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. Sheryl Crow.” Squelched. FAO Schwarz.” Bella noted. amongst many others. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. Before long. Bat for Lashes. Seal. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. . “I thought they’d broken up. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. Grizzly Bear. “Must be a homing greyhound. The line up included Gorillaz. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. Wolfmother. the new Eagles. Market leader in Britain he may have been. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. An open air charity concert. Louis sulked. Noah and the Whale. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned.” Orlov added. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). “The Penguin Café Orchestra. their mode of conveyance was.” “Maybe we should check it out. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. Snoop Dogg. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. better yet. “Business first. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. Fleet Foxes. Scorpions. Pet Shop Boys. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Literally. Followed by Flat Eric. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. Orlov snorted. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. Glinting on the horizon. before dashing off again in the direction it came. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. “ACME is top of our agenda. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Mastodon. if not quite the bees’ knees.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. pointing at the billboard.” Bella gasped. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. Whitesnake. Doves. Then we can foxtrot. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. infuriated by his insensitivity. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. the Natural History Museum. pleasure later. Eventually. 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. bunny hop. As ever. Danger Mouse.
A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. indicated that the place was operational.” Bella said. “I think I know what’s happening here. you never got as far as B. 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. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. If we go. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. squalid. The human world is a horrible place.” “Why are there no humans. caught in the inter-building eddies.” he said. Forty-second Street was equally empty. “But surely. “The real world is breaking through. dirty. A chill wind whistled in from the east. buskers. just like you said. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. hookers. Aleksandr. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. yelling at one another. Surely everyone knows that. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. But survivors all the same. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. druggies. Mutant maybe. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. was nowhere to be seen.” . Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. yakking. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. shoving. as if a performance was about to begin. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. I’m sorry. Oh. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. perhaps. while stuffing their faces with fast food. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. security guards. Marketing gives it meaning. That’s what I think.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. in as cutting a way as he could manage. Squeeze This. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. devoid of hope and authenticity. they go. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. Horribly disfigured. many of which strobed intermittently. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. though. animal brands especially. as they advanced towards Timex Square. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. panhandlers. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project.
” Louis said. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. Led by Cheeka. Timex Square was an empty. 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. . off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. it added. “Bloody Hellman’s. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. “Well. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. Then another. the Dulux sheepdog. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey. it went on. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. horse-mounted traffic cops. lynx and meerkat in their midst. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling.” Bella groaned. 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.” Orlov took off. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan.” Orlov exclaimed. an irresistible urge to spend. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. then get the Dell out of here. “Holy Doughboy. stunned by the update. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. it stated.” Louis gasped. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. “Well. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. Monkey from Sky TV. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. Another followed. Luckily. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off.com critter. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. spend. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron. unwelcoming place.” “Gotcha. off. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated. spend. off.
“No signal. Louis looked down at him. Quick. start. “What’s the address? Quick. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. drop down. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. Patrolling down 42nd Street. no doubt. Evisu Jeans’ red gull.” Impatient as always. We don’t have much time. stand up.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. look left. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. Growling. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. “For your information. I thought you’d been here before” strop. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. But Louis cut him off.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. It was a brand free zone. followed by “Louis. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. getting more infuriated by the second. Having stared the meerkat out. right beside the big BlackBerry patch.” Infuriated. look right. Louis turned to Bella. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. eyes locked. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse.” he said curtly. ferret. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. look round again manner. The fashion week tents were still standing. breathing heavily. ready for fisticuffs. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. Even in Madhattan. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. Smirking. They stood snout to snout. “Let me handle this. The meerkat glared at them both. Scampering ahead in his stop. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. flapping idly in the breeze.” Orlov was fit to be tied. “Calm down. “Wait for us.” Louis snapped. Bella looked at Louis. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. 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. Orlov backed down. while they were in mortal danger.” . the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue.
the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna.” Bella had no time for legends. Camel. believe me.” The meerkat was off like a shot. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. publicity. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. 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.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. will you.” Louis sighed. “It doesn’t say. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. feeling edgier by the second. not to say incredulity. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value.” “What?” Bella retorted. “Let him go. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . The stress of the quest. Adidas. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. “Just get Google. in a downtown direction. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. research. It was her imagination. Rrrrrrrrr. Once production goes.” He switched off his iPaw. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her.” “Read that in Wikipedia. originality disappears. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. Monkey. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. Something or someone was watching them.” Bella moaned.” The connection took forever. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. “It’s number 285. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. Nothing. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. the brains behind the Smash Martians. innovation follows. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. down-sizing. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. He’d clicked through from Google Street View.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. She was sure of it. Racoon. He’s barking up the wrong office block. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. “I don’t believe it. Louis held her back. design. He was a Panther man himself. The building was just a couple of blocks away. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. “World Wide Webster. Bella made to follow. As included. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. Panther. “designed to justify cost cutting. officiating bodies like ACME. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. did you?” Bella shouted. creativity evaporates.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. “Look. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. The Young and Rubicund building. Critters he called them.
A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. arm in arm. A conspiracy theory. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. Chuckling. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. It too was devoid of life. he looked around. though that may have been the art directors’ department. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. mouth agape. jingles. extremely agitated. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. He had a theory. all disconcertingly empty. Although they look laid back. as did his equally dumbfounded . penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. Fearing another tantrum. “Yes. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. Nodding enthusiastically. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. Yes. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. With a heave.” Far from being crestfallen. They especially hate cute critters.us the journey. advertising characters. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. A couple of minutes later. hot. Startled. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. Aleksandr. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. isabellines especially. “Corleone the copywriter. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. brand mascots.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. bothered.” Louis let her vent. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. a strop and sulk situation. Exactly. Bella refused to take the bet. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. their Old Glories unfurled. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. reason-why. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory.” “Oh. Hard sellers hate whimsy. The vacated Y&R floors. no winners or losers. The big city was distorting his thinking. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. “We know.” Louis yawned. the Russian emerged from the elevator. They passed a Starbucks. they strolled down to 285. let alone embarrassed.” Louis said laconically. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. The curt note on the door. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. only with account managers and art directors. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. stiff and straining in the breeze. The whole place was completely empty. There was no brand war. The locked ACME offices. subtlety. The wreckage all around. Orlov missed the sarcasm. a bit like The Sopranos.
“Lucky I checked out the building. then charged at the barrier together. Then a fourth. however.” he added. Louis lost the head. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Thump. Caught betwixt and between. the former sliding on the marble. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. “lock the revolving door. Bella and Louis did likewise. like a fire tender on emergency call. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. Almost. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. Glancing round as he ran. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. out. the three of them backed up several paces. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. then another. Then a third. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. He pushed again. thump. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder.” Louis yelled. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. jumping to his feet. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. thump. There was no time to lose. thump.companions. Arms outstretched. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. Frantic. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. “Quick. thump.” Bella leapt out of the banquette.” Bella urged. An earsplitting alarm went off. round. thump. Its catatonic associates followed suit. They picked themselves up. It suddenly shattered. Without pausing to dust themselves down. Nada. The door burst open. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. Thump.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. the latter sprinting on all fours. and pushed on the side door. They spilled into the street. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. The alarm alerted the undead. thump. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. It was locked. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. . Eyes glassy and unseeing. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. 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 zombie was momentarily confused. Nothing. then another. A crack appeared in the pane. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. but alive he most certainly wasn’t.
as he scampered after his brothers in brand. No surrender. This way.But the quarry was too quick for them. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. With no realistic alternative. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue.” He galloped up Park Avenue. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. They’re softies. “I think there’s a food court in that place. no. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. “Let’s stand and fight. in the direction of Brand Central Station. 40th . with an unrepeatable oath.” Bella said. This way. “We’re trapped. Bella. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. They’re milkshakes.” Orlov said to himself. where they paused to catch their collective breath. They’re wusses. “No.
“Lynxes excepted.” Orlov said. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. But none of them are McDonald’s. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls. “Different muscle groups. Too worked up to worry.” The meerkat cracked up. “But downtown’s not a good move. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. face contorted in agony. you know. “I think we’ve lost them.” he commiserated. 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. “Stitch. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. “That’s where Flat Eric lives. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. holding her side. gasping for breath. “I can swim for hours. Sniggering to start.” Louis laughed. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space.” he conceded.” Orlov empathised. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains.” Bella deadpanned. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line. by way of explanation. No bother. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. As Bella. Rrrrrrrr. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. “Never meet your heroes. “Yes. “I’m starving after all that exercise.” she added.” Suppressing a smile.” “Yes. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota. winking at the other half of his double act.” Orlov said. “How can you be so sure?” . “Don’t bet on it. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse.” Bella panted. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald.” Louis continued.” Unabashed. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days. which ordinarily copes with 150. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. He won’t be there anyway. But my sprinting’s not so good. grinning.000 passengers per day. Giggling. “Okay guys. looking anxiously behind them. right Louis?” “Right. the lynx tried to sympathise.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. albeit with difficulty.” Wiping her eyes. “A good brand is hard to find. those McTofus are really something.
Inside a smelting plant. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. If not quite melting. decisions. Bella awoke with a start. ACME. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. Aleksandr. as he pressed his face against the window. “Looks like Coney Island. The place felt like an oven. peeping outside.” he said. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction. Louis?” “It’s getting late. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. Inside a greenhouse. swivelling his head this way and that. as they tried to get their bearings. the one that does international flights. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. Then Orlov followed suit. On Mercury. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. Bella’s obsession with ACME. decisions. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. Have you?” The decision. We should be safe there.” Understandably perhaps. “I’m heading for SoHo.” Louis sighed. We need to make our way to JWT Airport.” the lynx said. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. It’s relocated to India. “Coming with me.” “Decisions. “ACME’s our priority.” She looked from one drained friend to the other.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. though. the moment of light relief forgotten. exhaustion soon caught up with them. trying to make the peace. “We’ve had a very trying day. He looked around in that ever-wary way.” Louis croaked. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. just as the doors were closing. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. It’s well uptown. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. as it happened.” The meerkat hesitated.” . Things’ll be clearer then. “We must have missed our stop. ACME. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. she shook her still-slumbering companions. because there’s no public transportation. And tasted like it too. Settled in their seats. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. “All of which are moot. Hot sun. was made for them. 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. Boiling sun. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. “If that’s where we decide to go. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant.” Bella said. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT.
when brand icons were dapper men about town. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. ghost trains and roller coasters.“Not a problem. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. far away.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. Welcome to Mirage. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. top-hatted. Much as he loved dry heat. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. The door hissed open. in short. was a poseur. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. dune piled upon dune. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. not only looked inviting. Mine host. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. Unselfconsciously. We’ll be safe among the carousels. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Self-respect be damned. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern.” Orlov remarked. it said. The Birds Custard bluebird. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. The heat was fearsome.” Bella struggled to speak. Onlookers. the monocled. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. Mercifully. as best they could. a fraud. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. Gathering their wits. Gasping for a drink. most of which were counterfeit. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. an imposter. be gone. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. flat-roofed and ogee arched. Bella wished she was far. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. It was hotter outside than in. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing.” Too parched to say anything. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. Whatever their phylum. beckoned from the other. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. held court behind the bar. piled upon dune. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. Except that they weren’t flies. like eco- . the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. Bella stood in the doorway. The barflies hung on his every word. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett.” Orlov rasped. and how Mr Peanut. Far Away. boys. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. Grill and Waterhole. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. Botanic Gardens too. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. Bertie Bassett. twisting and turning. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar.
” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. the lusty lummox.” “It’s mambo. History. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. Howlin Wolf. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski.” Undeterred. “This is the last brand saloon. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. Brusquely. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. he didn’t give a 4X. the audience roared. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. spokespenguins held to ransom. let alone an LAX. Lapsed. the proper name for the peanut family. much to his annoyance. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. Louis was collared by the meerkat. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. No sign of Owl City. Adam and the Ants. The Monkees. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. just as the stork’s set was finishing. spokescreatures sold into bondage. Panicking. “Chicken feed. nor did he want to know right now. Meerkat mambo. Louis. a sure-fire floor filler. followed by “Wild Thing”. No matter. The lynx hadn’t. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. Orlov persisted. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. Horse Feathers. for eucalyptus. pig nuts and pygmy nuts.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. We’ve got to get out of here. was in seventh heaven. We’re in Brandablanca. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. The Animals. Bella and Louis supped up. All axed by their advertising agencies. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. Unconcerned. A hen party. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. Louis didn’t . Monkey Business and more. “Hound Dog”. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. Smirking. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion.” “Right. A poultry matter. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. The Beatles. Meanwhile. never mind “Fireflies”. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. Grey Goose. Dropped. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. Orlov didn’t join in. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. consisting of Wild Turkey. Famous Grouse.
No sign of her there. He slipped into the backstage area. Bella was outside. standing in the shade. There was no sign of Bella. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. It wasn’t so funny the second time. I need something to calm me down. trying to get to Hamlet.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. then. then gestured in the general direction of the bar.” “Exactly. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries. However.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet.” “Don’t tell me.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. trying to hide his relief.want to know. having a cigarette.” Bella nodded. then. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily. apparently. doc?” Bella forced a smile.” . the CEO is. “What’s up. Releasing his grip. “Okay.” she said. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there.” “I don’t. Orlov gave up on the lynx. though never rising above ill-at-ease.” the abstemious meerkat said. He made his way to the restrooms.” “Excellent. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. “I didn’t know you smoked. He’s on his death bed. a Happy Meal. They’re in transit. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. either. deep in thought.” “Let’s get going. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away.
Part V Just Deserts .
He didn’t want to know. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. carvings. Louis was on the dancefloor. they returned to the bar. He Dead Decision made. Pelican and Penguin. awimoway. Orlov made for the door. Mustapha offered two for the price of one.” Bella promised. Ali Bally. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. Ali Burberry. Talking all the while. Bella was impressed. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. laying out his wares as he talked. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Ali Brioni. Unconcerned. His logo. more emphatically than before. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. Awimoway. The lynx didn’t care. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks.” Bella asked anxiously. “I’ll be back. a stylised scarab in a circle. Louis wasn’t in the same league. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. They shoved him aside. He still didn’t want to know. “Do you think he’ll be all right. he refused to let go.” Orlov answered. Ali Bottega Veneta. Reluctantly. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. A mere man. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. So they left him to it. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. was also quite striking. despite her desire to depart. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. spices. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. Irate. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. sweetmeats. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. awimoway. They explained the situation to him again. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. fashion designer to the stars. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. Ali Balenciaga. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. shouting over the music. He paused to get his bearings. As a feline of sorts. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. The meerkat was much less impressed. Ali Boden. Mustapha cut his prices even more. carpets. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. “He’ll be there when we get back. He introduced himself as Mustapha.” Bella wasn’t reassured. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. They explained the situation to him. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine.
merchants. Must be the other way. looking down on all he surveyed. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole.” he decided. Breath like a brazier. They were worrying animal omens. She told the beetle of their intentions. Bella waved back. blowing smoke rings.” He plunged back into the casbah and. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. stood between them and the same sand sea. Orlov offered him a Lark. good-for-nothing. A dung beetle barred their way. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. hoping to bond with the brute. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. they’re not. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. The old lungs weren’t what they were. Orlov accepted. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary. . up dune. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. Eventually. very bad idea.” Orlov apologised. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. they’re a delight. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. past thorn-bush. indifferent to everyone around him. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. grumbling and griping all the while. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. head aloft. Harrier jets. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. Only a palm-fringed oasis. as a peacemaker. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. Puma helicopters. nostrils flared. a disgrace. Careless squawk costs lives. through tamarisk thickets. he explained with a bronchial cough. He offered one to Orlov. This way was the wrong way. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. eyelids narrowed. dragging deeply. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. Scorpion armoured vehicles. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. Joe called a halt. Bella decided. detached.” Bella said beneath her breath. plus provisions for their journey. Way too hot to argue. Mr Midden said that was a very. Instead. “Whoops. “sorry about that. brands go. Still no sign of a subway. Joe was undeniably cool. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. Unwisely. populated by belching braying camels. Even in the searing heat of the desert. after much pushing and shoving. very. Orlov didn’t. “This way. But business was business. “So much for kat-nav. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. There was no sign of the subway station. Brands come. they’re hot. down dune. good fun. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. He looked supercool too – haughty. It was Joe Camel himself. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. 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. emerged on the other side. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. The shit of the desert set off.
causing a mini landslide. earnestly. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. who once bestrode BrandLand. dead best friend. a benison. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns.bad influence. if you want. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. having decided what to do. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. I’m an icon. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. Aleksandr. style’s forever. after all. Five minutes later. Bella hobbled on. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. I’m going to see it through. “Looks innocent enough. Supporting each other. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. . undecided. Sorry. Aleksandr. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. Mr Kipling was near now. Don’t lose hope. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. You can go back if you want to. tennis courts. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex.” “Ciao. Sobbing uncontrollably. Rumours. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. Amazed. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. Joe shrugged. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. to put it mildly. “Your funeral. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. Fashion changes.” “That’s true. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. she wept for her dead mummy. Customers are fickle. Momentarily inattentive. Stay true to yourself. having finally found gainful employment.” The meerkat looked from one to the other.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. bad as in good. Bella. Bella nodded appreciatively. his sang-froid abandoned. It was all too much. dead daddy.” He indicated with his hoof. Whatever.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. Don’t pander. “It’s just over that rise.” Bella replied brusquely. they clambered up the dusty gulch. smiling. You know how it is. which rolled back down the ravine. “I’ve come this far. a tropical island in a sea of sand. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. “Take care of Louis for me. The Maytag repair man.” she shouted over her shoulder. It was a refuge. “…brand characters talk. This is as far as I go.” Orlov murmured. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. She could taste him. I’ve heard things. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. “What rumours?” The camel explained. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. or something similar. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. speaking slowly. She waddled up the wadi.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. “I can carry you the rest of the way.
seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J.” Betty said. Hartley. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. the convenience stores and the community centre. Nipper responded eagerly. They peeked into the communal sitting room. Clippit. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. Joe Isuzu. the Coppertone girl. woof. It was filled with immortal brand icons. Orlov tried to get through to it. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. Bow-wow. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. Crazy Eddie. Aunt Jemima. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. thick carpets. assorted Scottish Widows. the coffee shops. the forgotten British Telecom titans. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. woof. Betty herself had seen better days. as they were ushered into her office. regretfully. look. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. Howard Brown. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. the arts and crafts studios.” Orlov replied. Bow-wow. the golf course. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. as orange as ever. sitting in a circle of silence. rising from her sofa. Frankie and Louie.” Orlov cried. “I think you’ll be impressed. “Look. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. “What’s he saying?” Bella said.” Without further ado. their raping.R. explaining the rationale for their operation. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room.” . joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. “Woof. plump cushions. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. On a whim. woof. Woof. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. Yap. Beattie and Buzby. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. The mute mutt kept mum. the Tango man. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. taking in the gymnasium. smiling benignly. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. But she was friendly enough. However. Frito Bandito. Nicole and Papa. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. “Would you like to look around?” she said. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. Ruff. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. who’d seen better days.“Welcome to paradise. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. Grrrr. increasing market share.
Kipling’s a come-on. Crocker’s a…c. They were there for the duration. Get out. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere. Never was.cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. Thinking quickly. Right now. He’s not here.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. 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. They’d walked into a trap.
Louis sat up with a start. “don’t move”. though they only had to ask. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. Can’t be too careful. Cheep”. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. youza. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. he remembered several more moments of madness. 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”. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. He was lying on a small camp bed. He was in a storeroom of some kind. “lie still”. Then things got a bit hazy. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. though he wasn’t as young as he was. Chirpy. Louis had never had a hangover like it. Groaning. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. Cheep.” The pain was excruciating. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. frankly. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. given the free floorshow Louis provided.” The agony was unrelenting. Dawn would be up and about before long. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. youza. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. the lynx tried to get his bearings. as are bladders full to bursting. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively.” The torture wouldn’t stop.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. mercilessly. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. Red Robin”. Better not. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. He flopped back down again. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. “Oooooohhhhh. feeling queasy. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. well. . Lynxes were lithe. However. Head splitting. the mortification or the migraine. He looked around. but there was a limit. which tightened inexorably. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. “Noooooooooo. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. It was the least the bar owner could do. With a sudden shudder of horror. followed by “Chirpy. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check.
His iPaw was missing. And a figure sitting silently at the end. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. with a view to ringing the bar. sugary. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. He paused. Suddenly. Louis played it cool. “I’m talking to you.” There was movement. holding it in. He shouted for assistance. Ooohhh yeaaah.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. He unlocked the door. head thumping. you son of a bitch. dying for a drink. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. before disappearing through a swinging access door. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. rabbiteared guard remained silent. Louis angled his face on the bars. Apart from the sacks of snacks. hoping to attract someone’s attention. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. Louis looked up. It was sweet. Only the minarets showed signs of life. “I’m talking to you. Mr Bassett. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. then tried again. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. “Avoid the Noid. trying to place the aroma.” he called out. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. albeit not on account of the nausea.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. briskly. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. which flapped to and fro in his wake. He sniffed. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. kicking the door and shaking the bars. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. He reached for his iPaw. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors.” he shouted. Anxiety mounting. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. waited for the palpitations to pass. the shakes. peered through the iron bars. Louis’s iPaw. Louis needed all the help he could get. His red-suited. grabbing hold with both hands. “Christ. A call to prayer was imminent. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. eyes fixed on the smart phone. He squeezed his face against the bars and. “I’ve been expecting you. There was no sign of a cell phone. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. Sobriety took hold. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. liquorice-like. shoved it open with difficulty. He banged on the door. Presumably. fiddling with an iPaw. Livid. If not Bertie himself. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability.
“They come from that. and suchlike. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. “Your days are numbered. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. He had to get moving right away. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. We represent the end of beautiful friendships.” he said. not even “My name is Bassett.” “I’m not with you.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic. Bertie Bassett”.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. Bassett or no Bassett. They never come back. hangover overcome by willpower alone. some parts of them come back. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. It might already be too late. Mr Lynx. He kept his cool instead.” he said. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. Mr Lynx. Have you forgotten your training. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. continuing to play it cool.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders.” “That’s what we want them to believe.” There was no time to lose. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. he realised that something wasn’t right.” Louis countered. Here’s lookin’ at you. “But why. Louis refused to be drawn.” he said. Nonchalant yet nasty.” Bassett smiled. in response to the ridiculous death threat.” “I see. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. some of them come back or. “Maybe. Instead. 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. We make dramas out of crises. Bertie. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. should I say. the liquorice magnate said nothing. Well. Unilever boy?” He stood up. “That’s a bit melodramatic. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. rising energetically from his camp bed. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. nodding toward the barrels once more. kid. buy-or-die issues. “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. an escape route for persecuted brands. round up the usual suspects. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products.
He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. However. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. Anything to make the memory go away. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint.Ordinarily. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. Although he was still alive. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. He should have known better than to tempt fate. he sensed that Bassett was serious. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather. . he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. He soon would.
as per ACME’s edict. No hard sell. like Mr Kipling. much less the physiology. was a crock of marketplace gold. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. Bella well knew. The accommodation was superb. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. The forbidden fruit trick. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. neither electrified nor chain link. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. with watchtowers and guards. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. no matter how outmoded. There was no perimeter fence. As a consequence. The food. No hustle. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. She was very tempted. clearly. But. were a bit like piggy banks. No soft soap. Brands. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. never mind a sickening stench. The recreational facilities were wonderful. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. as Nipper made clear. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. No hassle. That investment kept on growing and growing and. Mr Soybean. no matter how venerable. 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. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. part of the brand trafficking operation. Tom Tomato. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. Bella could understand why any brand icon. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. its equity was still there. There was no unscalable wall. Bella could see the attraction of the place. something strange was going on. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. Crocker’s camp. Every brand icon. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. Bella was kicking herself.
reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. was somewhere between niffy and noisome. The stench was stronger now. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. He offered her one. “Maybe it was something you ate. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. patting him on the back. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. their . The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. no less. Bella told him so. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. Doubtless Tiger. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. Even Bella could smell it.the perimeter. Not wanting to attract undue attention. Some chance. struggling to his feet. only smarter. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. “Acrylic. It was worse than she thought. “Orlov insisted. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway.” She let him splutter. for one – but this was ridiculous. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. footloose and fancy free. He didn’t look up to the challenge. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell.” he added. The aroma. She declined.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. Hundreds of sports team mascots. then took in the nine-hole golf course. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. That’s where it’s coming from. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. behind a dense stand of leylandii. Orlov was doubled over. low-rise glass building. Orlov looked up. “Look. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. a penguinoramus.” she said. Still. retching in a revolting manner. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. He coughed. “Definitely acrylic. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. minging and malodorous. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. “It’s a bit like a civet. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. There was no escape. there’s a plume of smoke over there. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. “I still can’t smell anything. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside.” Orlov gasped. It worked. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. He spluttered. just to see the look on his face. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. She was a penguin ignoramus.” he said. Orlov thought for a second. Undeterred. only with incense that’s gone off. Bella was beyond belief.” Bella said. “Burning acrylic.
targets similar work schedule metrics. It was about to launch into .” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. pampered. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted.” Raging. There was only one problem. 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. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. as had Go-Go Hamsters. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. He Gives a Monkey’s. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. Barney. they’re cuddly toys. And won the election by a landslide. the purple dinosaur. “They certainly kept that quiet. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. Stamford the Lion. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. which fell away when full. The guard. In the annals of advertising slogans.” Bella whispered. Beanie Babies had been and gone. Gruesome as the big screen was. Peppa the Pig was no more. Desperate times require desperate measures. Samson and Delilah. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. Norwich’s Captain Canary. From its perch above the production line. The guard was no ordinary guard.” At a loss. sadly. nothing less than the furry solution. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No.” “Yes. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. was extinct.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. As a democrat. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. quotas. the questers considered their options. It was Pegasus. Bella. As a Russian. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. let alone A Bug’s Life. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. Aberdeen’s Angus. Portsmouth’s Frogmore.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. a brand abattoir. It was apocaplush. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over.” Orlov said. Appalled.
” Bella acknowledged. However. BTW. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that.” “Your wish is my command. and don’t look so surprised. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. Just ask Tiger.” “Yes.an “how dare you”. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. Poseidon. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. Orlov. as you can see. I dropped Bellerophon in it. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry.” Pegasus whinnied. Orlov cut the creature off. “Is that so?” “Yes.” . If so. We’ve still got a wish in hand. A god’s gotta graft. She says you’re a sell out. It’s the way of the world. remember. 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. Call her.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. that its father. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. Orlov. in case you’d forgotten. Pegasus looked unimpressed. Whatever. Once one sponsor departs. “you shouldn’t be here”. the rest soon follow.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. I’m not proud. She says you’re dead horsemeat. “The Roc sends her regards. Bella. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. Oh. she does. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. She’s full of it you know.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. there’s only two of us. Bella seized her chance. I’m not choosy. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. I’m the offspring of Medusa. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. “I’m calling security” spiel.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
” Louis snarled.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. The other was lean. turning defence into attack. Mr Clean. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. P&G shakedown. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. Intrigued. A camel was outside. You may have heard of us. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. he glanced up at the Proctoids. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. “This is my esteemed colleague. I’m hoping it will . their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. Bleary-eyed. And squeezed. They had a rope. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. no one could hear brands scream. They were going to pull the bars out. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. he picked himself up. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. a celebrity camel. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. the chatterbox beetle explained. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. The cry caught in his throat. mean and muscular. “I’m Julius Pringles. Shaven-headed. He could hear the door opening. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. Bella sent them. by fair means or foul.” he said. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. At one stage. Get ready to run for it. You may also have heard that we get what we want. Naturally. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. preparing to call for assistance. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. In Cin City. allegedly. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). It was a smell he recognised from way back when. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. he was distracted by a cough. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. “Let me guess.
Sorry.” Pringles ordered. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. With a bestial bellow. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. Ping. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. with a butt-ripping jerk. Ping.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. This was no ordinary water. It was P&G water. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. “You know I can’t tell you that. Ping. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. Pantene Pro-V enriched. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. asswipe.be fair. The persecutor paused. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. the pain would have been intolerable. Is that what you’re saying. the one that controls cross-dressing. Clearly. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. It contained a chair. come to think of it. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. Julius. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. moreover. One-handedly. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand . Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. a bucket. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. Instinctively. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. Louis?” Playing for time. Surprisingly feminine forename. a board. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. Stoically. began dragging him out of the cell. past the Noid who’d nodded off. Veritably. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. Ping.” Clean went crazy. “Let’s find out what he knows first. both literally and metaphorically. With enormous effort. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. However.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. Mr Clean will clean your house. Not so surprising. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. Under normal circumstances. “Take it easy. “And grease in just a minute.” the lynx sang tunelessly.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. Without pausing for breath. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve.
” he spluttered. Cursing and swearing. Yes. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. pate glistening. Masochistically shaving against the grain. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. he tied Louis down. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand. Mostly. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. His training kicked in.” “Correct. Wouldn’t they? .” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand.” Clean crowed. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade.” Admirable though it was. eyes glinting. You don’t owe Unilever anything. “Tell us what we want to know. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. The ladies like it that way. “I could do with a shave. though. Clean started work with slash and burn relish.” “Glad to hear it. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. “Five precision blades. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. especially for so little reward. Make it easy on yourself. But he had miscalculated. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. They’re about to abandon your brand name. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. it was costing him a small fortune. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. fraught though they had been. Louis. which creaked and groaned from want of use.” Muscles bulging. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. Howling with fury. It’s common knowledge. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. he asked Louis to reconsider. The one without the battery. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. though. Strangely. Even at wholesale prices. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. Quickly and efficiently.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. “Recognise this?” he raged.” Louis retorted. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. “Nice lather. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books.secrets. It’s the best a brand can get. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. Rrrrrrr. He had overlooked one crucially important item.
Clean was getting nowhere fast. the American management guru. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. “Well. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. “You learn something new every day. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. “Try the swiffer. they tell me. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. then turned to go. “Kill him.” Pringles said.” Louis gasped. But securely bound and helplessly splayed.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. Cats love a tickle.” Pringles said. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. electrostatically. It was time for a change in tactics. Clean. Are you ticklish. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt.” . Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. I never knew that. “We blindsided you with that one. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. He really did. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. “It doubles as a tickling stick.” “Cool. he was a giggling.” Pringles suggested. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. By blindly following Gladwell.” Louis tried to resist. though. gibbering wreck in no time. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do.
He owed them three wishes. “But see your vet anyway. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. bluffed the brusque beast and. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. Reluctantly. make the sale.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. move the merchandise. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image.” . That little brand of yours has potential. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. ethical. The reason rather was that. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. Pegasus was basically kind. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. Third. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. Qualitywise. He was capitalism in microcosm. but wish three was unnecessary. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. when the chips were down. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair.” Unconvinced. keen to do good. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. They had raised the stakes. release the furry football prisoners.” “What about you. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. just perfect for recessionary times. “It’s nothing. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. They were part of the plot against the plot. Not long after liftoff. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. They weren’t part of the plot. Far from leading Louis to his doom. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. Your prices are competitive. as gods go. keep body and soul together. 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. He couldn’t help it. We can talk to ACME. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. Second. cut corners. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. which was worrying for a working dromedary.” Orlov lied authoritatively. First. He was on a rescue mission.
com basin. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. Pegasus was getting frisky too. they came to rest beside a small jetty. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. one step above slugs and snails. There’s the Raid Bugs. “we’re coming in to land. Bella.“I’m a dung beetle. closely-packed settlements. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. dotted with iridescent oases. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. He’d take them as far as he could.” He circled and banked and glided. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. sludgy and sluggish. As far as most people are concerned. With no realistic alternative. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. There’s Caterpillar. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. Not as beautiful as the jungle. Nobody loves us. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. A flurry of feathery flutters later. yet beautiful. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes.” the flying horse finally announced. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. rolled before them. but no further. The beetle had a business to run. half as old as time.” There was no persuading him. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. he’d learned something from the Roc.” Louis chipped in. “Hold tight. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. Decrepit. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. there might be one or two. Although Bella didn’t like heights. okay. “This is as far as I go. the threesome took off. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. Pegasus didn’t pause. Flashes of lightning. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. as brand names go. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe.” Orlov added. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. the brand band agreed. I’m in the dingleberry business. It was forbidding. Forthright as ever. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. snaking camel trains. though. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. soaring up and away. “The objective you seek is upstream. A vast river. But dung beetles are persona non grata. herds of wild horses. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. How dare he drop them . And. “specially designed for young children. That vessel will take you there. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. “What’s this?” Bella asked.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. Evidently. with a slight cough of embarrassment.” Pegasus snorted. “Okay. laid into the winged god.
Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. “Compare the market. A flash in the pan website. landlubbers. KFC. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. aspirates. You don’t belong in BrandLand. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. Coca-Cola.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. “The B-sound’s effective too.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated.” They didn’t know how it was. The dude was also reduced to navigating a rundown steamboat that stank of rotten fish up a dirty old river in the back end of beyond. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. with its connotations of edginess. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. I presume. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. Campbell’s Soup. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. open-faced figure. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name.” a cordial voice chortled. The old salt nodded sagely. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved.” Feeling a little left out. you see. but as long as they keep the Captain part. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. X-Box. Kit-Kat.” Louis said nothing. excitement. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. You’re no loss. “Captain Iglo. “Welcome to the jungle. 4X beer. “I intend to. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. sibilants. Welcome on board. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. “I’m called Iglo in France. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye. I don’t particularly mind. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. K-X soda.” Bella ventured. aka Iglo. “Yes. modestly. X-series sports cars. “Betty Crocker. You know how it is. snapped open its wings. up and away. P-P-P-Penguin. “I can see into the future. Birdseye showed them around.” Orlov contributed. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. X-tra strong mints.” he corrected. “Have a nice day.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. A grey-bearded.” the captain conceded. energy: X-Factor.” With that. plosives. Calvin Klein. apparently. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. They use my proper name in Britain. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures.” “Captain Birdseye. “I guess we better get going then. Hence Kodak. Krispy Kreme. Earnestly. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. brothers and sister. It’s the k-sound. You’re a joke.” “Correct. There wasn’t much to see: a . I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story.
Just. “The Cokenoco. “So. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river.compact cabin. not to say faintly ludicrous.” Eyes twinkling. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. It’s pretty inhospitable country. “There are three tributaries. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. every lucky winner draw. “The ACME Horde. The Trove of Death. Diet. “Before you ask. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. Captain. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. “I’ll take your word for it.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger.” she said. lost in their own thoughts. albeit steady as she goes. Captain Birdseye cast off. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. as if unconvinced by her reply. “Taste it.” He handed her an old pewter cup.” “Right. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. every air miles offer. every loyalty . “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. it’s called by some. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. steering a route of least resistance.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. As shipshape as they’d ever be. And was wearing it under his uniform. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. Every sales promotion. Sceptical yet intrigued. Bella. every free gift scheme. Progress was slow. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. stained with jolly jack tar. done that.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. The jetty was soon behind them and. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance. However. a gimcrack forecastle. it shouldered its way upstream.” “I wasn’t going to ask. as he nudged the wheel this way and that.” He nodded. We’ve been on a long journey.” Birdseye replied. I know treasure seekers when I see them. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. He’d been there. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. by others. bought the T-shirt. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. Diet’s the least turbulent. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene.” “I think it’s exhaustion. it was a plausible brand yarn and. With a barf and a bellow. After the requisite toot of the whistle. Classic and Zero. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander.
And it’s buried in them thar hills. win a car.” . who sells it on. complete the sentence.card. reward or guarantee. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. every money off voucher. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings. every collect the tokens. that is. win a house. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. win a holiday. In return for a fee. win a million. privilege card redeemable premium. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality. According to old wives’ tales. scratch card.
The path was narrow but passable. Guinness is good for you. to everyone’s relief. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims. “The horror. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. However.” it parroted. “Intuition. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. they forged forcefully ahead. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. Screeches. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. “Instinct?” Bella asked. yammering at top speed. It was hot. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. Niacin. A trail of hoof. . or had been fairly recently. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly. catchphrases and suchlike. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. The throbbing ceased. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. slogans. The noise was deafening.” “I’ll say. “No added sugar.” the lynx intervened.” Grinning despite herself. “It’s that way. It’s one of our special editions. It’s big in Brazil. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. screaming the praises of P.” he said.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and. Riboflavin. the MGM lion.” Orlov murmured. Every so often. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. Tony. “I got it covered. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. Burning Bright The jungle closed in.” Orlov winked at Bella. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. She didn’t want to know. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way.” “It’s okay. Her companions didn’t disagree. “Calcium. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. Louis and Orlov disembarked.Chapter Eighteen Tony. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. guys. Guinness is good for you”. It was humid. if a trifle slippery.” the old boatman added. “I’ll wait for you. straplines. 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. as Bella. The horror.G. the Exxon tiger. “You can’t miss it.” she observed. as the going got increasingly rutted. Tips. in a foot race. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. “Must be a nightmare after a storm.
“Ssssssshhhhhh. If ACME’s behind this. Boom-boom. The crowd held its breath. Boom. With a blood-curdling yell. Boom. terrifying as its hooded features appeared.listening intently from time to time. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. if not quite unbearable.” Bella hissed. dump bins. cut cases. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. Unfortunately. coupons. Boom. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. Boom-boom. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. Bella burst out laughing. Emboldened. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. they inched forward and. must have carried for many. Boom.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. This was no ordinary ceremony. however. Boom. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. The clammy heat was. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. the high priest of high fashion. Chuckling.” Orlov whispered. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. as the ceremony proper commenced. “Advent. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. The drumming stopped. Boom-boom. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. shelf-talkers. minus the vocal accompaniment. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. as well they might. it didn’t last long. “Let’s just watch and wait. Orlov and Louis looked worried.” Louis was less than impressed.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. many miles. a big. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. though they weren’t the centre of attention. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. Suddenly. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. posters.” “Ssssshhhhh. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. A second drummer joined in. Boom. easing a succulent aside. big brand in west Africa. was scattered around the periphery. Fast as the cobra was. brandishing a burning brand. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. then a third. decidedly unpleasant. A great shout of glee rose up .
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. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. meanwhile. Aghast at the brand butchery. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. Transfixed. as a groan escaped from the majority. the main event. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. Which of course it did. This also ended on a disappointing note. Peanut paused. as the onlookers went ape. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. slowly. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. pretending it had steamed up. She started peeling off her skin. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. Mr Peanut. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. removed his monocle and. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. those whose side-bets were misplaced. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. The polar bear burst asunder. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. circled slowly searching for an opening. The drums started up again.from one group of onlookers. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. the cruiserweight climax of the card. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. Bella concluded that Louis was right. seductively. The response was lukewarm. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. Then another brand character contest kicked off. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. Ingeniously. Miss Banana. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. Without further ado. Luckily. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. Howling with bestial abandon. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. she encouraged the crowd to join in. His followers showered him with confetti- . when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. belly dancing. with fighting as part of the fun. Clearly. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. because a lot of money had been lost. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. however. she started dancing. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. The first combatant strode in imperiously. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. Booing derisively. In his top hat and monocle. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory.
like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the
opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.
Brands Can Only Get Better
Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.
The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the
They stopped. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. and whisked him off to meet his doom. since they are exposed to them more frequently. 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. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. of continuing with the same basic proposition. chewed the fat about brand longevity. Understandably. shook him down. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. after asking what was biting. He knew what P&G were capable of. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. CEOs need to chill a little. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. Bella wasn’t so sure. slow travel. which was a first for Mustapha. He was a Mars Inc. If anything. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. The captain said they were Crocs. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. eddies. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. similar to slow food. whirlpools. of conviction. rapids. The lynx laughed it off. top-hatted and smirking. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. . Aleksandr was in awe of the master. He’d been there. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. But she said nothing. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up.form of sandbanks. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. shallows. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. Izod and analogous alligators. The river got narrower and narrower. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. He added. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. A strange strain of fish. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. apropos of nothing. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. 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. exchanged greetings and. brand. But not right away. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. the jungle less and less dense. 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. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. slow parenting and so on. also appeared in overwhelming numbers.
run a few errands. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. he’s really let himself go.As the brand band slid upstream. There were no signposts to speak of. He throttled back and. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably.” Bella snapped. the Johnnie Walker whisky character. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. even though he knew he shouldn’t.” “No. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. more like. He doles out the awards. no. He looked in pretty good shape.” Louis said. asking after his welfare. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. The overweight icon said nothing. The remains of a massive . Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke.” Bella contradicted. “Who?” “Bibendum.” Mustapha said. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. Barclays Bank. all right. At a bend in the river. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. don’t forget. “Jeez. Not far ahead of them. Mustapha looked confused. allowing for the onrushing current. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. like little boys playing truant. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. right in front of the distended inner tube. No sweat. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. wondering if they could do anything for him.” Louis continued. held her steady in the centre of the stream.” “Photoshop. bigger than the Marlboro Man. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. believe me. The Michelin Man. in an awestruck voice. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany.” “He’s big. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. “They were airbrushed. “They’re all at it nowadays. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. they spotted Strider. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. Louis and Orlov fell about. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. That’s definitely not Doughboy. either.” “Heaven help us. “Five star restaurants.” Orlov quipped. a superhuman snowman. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand. though not inaccurately. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat.” Orlov gasped. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut.” Louis sighed. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.
“It isn’t alive. Red thereafter. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. but he still said nothing. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. . “I think it’s a statue.” Orlov said. Before long. And it was. White to start.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. the mist descended. Smiling appreciatively. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant.” But it wasn’t. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. The blimp burped instead. ravaged by fine wines.
” he shouted. right? Since the 1950s. practically. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. ACME was within her grasp. She had other things to attend to. Brand abduction. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. Her brain had gone numb. such as it was. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. No good will come of this. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. There’s nothing to worry about. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. A humming sound started up to starboard. touch it. There was Google’s Android software icon. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. sometimes to port. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. smell it. She couldn’t think of any more. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. “Maybe back in the good old days. Close encounters. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. The fug literally vibrated at one point. She could sense it. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. pulsing intermittently. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. like an air raid siren. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle.” More in hope than expectation. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. “But in this day and age. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. They moved around above them. sometimes to starboard. Little green men. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. “What do you reckon. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. UFOs. Orlov?” Bella called. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. sometimes arcing across the sky. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. “Area 51. Another loud hum struck up to port. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. he gurned from time to time. Taking command once more. But Bella wasn’t listening. Bella bellowed back.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. “We’re entering Aliens country. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. Bella stood in the forecastle. There was Quisp. at least. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario.
though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. Bella licked the side of her beak. “I know where we are. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. He’s done his duty by us. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. cut into the living rock. feelers flailing. flight by flight. “Please. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. as a wall of fizzy water. Bella’s band were close. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. allegedly. though. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. very close. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. he gave up. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle.” Orlov did the needful. A dull rumble roared ahead. An intense stare. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. even.” Bella hissed. Several flights of stairs later. bramble . The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. Said they were legendary. Louis made to tie the tub up. The lull didn’t last. A vast orange sodafall.yammering that prevented rational thought. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. “This is Fanta Falls. There’s no point persecuting him any further. “Shut him up. Brand stretch is bad news. let her go. sucking his thumb. bracken patches. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. broke out his wings and took flight. Without pausing for breath. but Bella said no. The captain’ll come round soon enough. bubbling and fizzing. they mounted purposefully. The acme.” she shouted to Louis. It got louder and louder. The epitome. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. someone. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. At the side of the falls. Eventually. eyeball-melting orange in hue. “Hush. Ho. The landing lights had moved on.” Louis didn’t disagree. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. Ho. rather. Before long.” she called. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. “This is where we get off. They’re impassable. to the tableland above. presumably to another planet. Smirking despite their perilous situation. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. Spectral silence reigned. legs lashing. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau.” With a natural nautical flair. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. The buzzing had stopped.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. it was definitely the colossus of brands. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday.
” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. “and then see what’s what. As Bella and the boys strolled past. neo-classical pastiche. more beautiful still were the students. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. almost art deco. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. Certainly. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. cold. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. Bella was bewildered. However. wall-mounted day planners. while trying to work out where they were. “I just don’t get it. “It’s Professor Kipling. nothing less than BrandLand University College. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. grikes and runnels ahead.bunches and hardy karst grasses. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. of course. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. As they drew closer to the structure. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. Truth. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. According to a poll in Time magazine. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. They set off for the administrative building. Bibendum. He was right. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. to be precise. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. I suspect. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. a new university. It was a university. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. Beefeater. surely. The others gathered round to do likewise. too.” he said. cold.” she said. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus.
” Orlov corrected. “Enter. if not exactly in seventh heaven. disappeared into the belly of the beast. Understandably. Pochacco the dog. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. He winked by way of replying. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. That’s a good thing. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. They knocked politely. a kind of inverted snobbery. Don’t be bashful. “It’s Mr Kipling. a few moments later. Exasperated. “Enterrrrr. Bella shook her head. “There’s a board by the door that says so. if Bella hadn’t glared at him.” “He’s in. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments.” There was indeed.body.s. They piled into the lift and. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically.p. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. Louis. “At last. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby.” Orlov sighed. Kipling’s door was at the very end. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. while holding open the heavy glass door.” Bella noted. rats. mouthing bowwow for good measure. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties.” “Great. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more.a. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. 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. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. “This is the place.” he shouted. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. There’s hope for us yet. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. It’s even more elevated than Professor. Pekkle the duck.” Mustapha crowed. Top medics are always called Mister. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about.” “Actually. “Excellent. then reappeared waving excitedly.” a melodious voice responded. Picke Bicke mouse. a. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. Louis would have volunteered to help. Not him too.” . “He isn’t a professor after all.
and pushed. thought about things for a second. Orlov shrugged. raised her flipper.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. . Undeterred. Louis nodded. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Bella took a deep breath.
when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. which stretched from floor to ceiling. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. Books there were. are often negative. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. dewy eyed. curled in a ball. There were paintings by Catavaggio. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. She didn’t know what to expect. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. “Before you ask. as product spokespersians. somehow. As Bella gazed around the room. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. Dozens of them. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. Cataletto.” Mr Kipling said.” she asked. though most of these were open and in use. Statues of cats. Catstable. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. Pussain. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. that it would be filled with books and not much else. His handlebar . She imagined. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. “only for cats?” Smiling. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. all ceramic. Whereas dogs are everywhere. cats are discriminated against and. as brand mascots. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. but not on the second. all silent. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. She was right on the first count. But there were long chains of Russian cats. Salvadore Kitty. what few portrayals there are. “Second. etc. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. “First. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. It was the statues that surprised her. “Is that like the glass ceiling. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. smiling obsequiously. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. with black necktie and starched collar.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. and several others she didn’t recognise. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns.
” he called.” Kipling conceded. “I see. However there was a good reason for that. he was less impressed by. He rubbed his chin idly. unerring. much less the BrandLand University campus. about flipper fatigue. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. Louis. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. proper. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. industrious. it transpired. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. . His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. He recognised Bella right away. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. “I see. turning to Orlov.” Kipling said calmly. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. The patriarch pushed back his chair. then rose to greet his visitors. “Correct. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. clandestine success. since the brand was a lynx in name only.” he continued. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. peering at her intently. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. “And you. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision.” Kipling said. As it was true confessions time. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. or said he did. intellectual acuity. Orlov. He knew her grandfather well.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. rose from his desk. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. Indeed. “Let me show you something. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. lost in thought. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. Bella inhaled deeply. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. To all intents and purposes. along with the space-invader sound effects. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. nor the surrounding countryside. Black Beauty. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit.
let alone a committee that calls the shots. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. Call of the Wild. “If it’s not any of the buildings. Bella was too stunned to respond. The Gruffalo. Mr Kipling sat beside her. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. unprotected by copyright or trademark. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. Bella.” At a loss. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. Bella. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. She tried again. “what is it? The students?” Smiling.” A light went on above her head. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. What you see. Watership Down. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. a glass of hard liquor in hand. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. She’d been out for hours. I take it. used by all and sundry. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment. Bella. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances.” Orlov quipped. animal emblem products in particular. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. It’s a fake. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. to Kipling’s irritation. Bella awoke. The Ugly Duckling. the Hare and the Tortoise. “We’re talking about a state of mind. worried looks on their faces. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. with a .” he said. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. “Take a sip. purple cows.” Bella said. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. surrounded by plaster cats. Toad of Toad Hall. There is no controlling force. “So. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. ACME is a generic term.” “An exceedingly good fake.Animal Farm. “It’s more intangible than that. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. Everything became clear. Academy Country Mammal Education.” “In a way. With a start.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. Bad as capitalism can be. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. The clouds parted. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. where we study black swans.
He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. It looked and smelled delicious. As Bella sat up. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. separates the inseparable. especially in these days of instant results. All this way for what? What indeed. “It’s Curvoisier brandy.” Bella said. He succumbed. The rewards are enormous in the end. aren’t they? Angel cake.” The meerkat nodded sagely. “Oh. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. renders the similar dissimilar. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. “Almond slices. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. or so the story goes. He was starving. . possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. I could acquire a taste for that.” With a knowing look. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. though. emphasising. You should consider a career in academia. We need people like you round here. then stowed the bottle away. “These are the essence of branding. raising a flipper in protest. instant returns. instant impact…or else. “Branding. However. “Exactly. products these days are pretty much of a muchness.” he said. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. she thought. distilled from dead dogs. Orlov dropped his eyes. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. One was right in front of the lynx.” With a good-try smile. Kipling returned to his desk. say. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. It’s a test. It was a rhetorical question.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection.” 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. I’m okay. just like these slices of cake. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. however. Aleksandr. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. perhaps? Apple pie. Very impressed. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. “We live in a world of identical products. to her companions’ relief. “I’m not hungry. Exactly. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms.twinkle in his eye. “This isn’t a snack. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. instant rewards. though. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. “I’m impressed. Effective branding is a very slow process. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. someone once said. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. Curvoisier delivered. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk.” Disappointed. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. “No really.
“It’s as plain as the beak on your face. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. Exactly. You swallow the competition. fast and effective.” Bella said. “I think you do.” “I still don’t see.. You establish a monopoly. It’s cheap. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties.” Mr Kipling replied. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. his rudeness. He needn’t have bothered. eyeing up the other slice. finishing her brandy.” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake.. Louis struck his best cute cat pose. at least in the short run. “Exactly.” Louis added.” .Expecting to be lambasted for his greed.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
designed to make his breed the boss. It was a blatant power-play. they were much less photogenic than adélies. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. is that penguins are as popular as ever. his call for a cull of isabellines. as did the early 1900s. The demand for spokescreatures. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. emperors. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. He wanted power. rather. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. Cute critters remind them of childhood. As did the Great Chain of Branding. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. Models and Explanations. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. frankly. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. though. chinstraps or rockhoppers. Bella cursed herself bitterly. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. If anything. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat.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. his slaughter of the innocents. Michelin Man. when western capitalism also wobbled. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. Dogs’d do anything. Accordingly. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. Breed-interest. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. say anything. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. those that walk or stand upright . independent opinions would have been guaranteed. was motivated by self-interest. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. Had it been McKitty. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. was counter-cyclical. He’d concocted a credible external threat. The irony. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. the suckers at the centre of it all. to say nothing of tourists. according to Kipling. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. Bella had never heard the expression before. Next are bipedal animals. Captain Birdseye. swear to anything. Humankind. However. in short. Le Penguin didn’t want that. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. despite the worldwide advertising downturn.
though not as far down as six-legged. Louis seemed excited. She’d been beaten. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. They were a study in contrasts. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. “Rrrrrrrrr. Literally. cats. to the top of the penguin pile. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. She’d been a fool. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. Le Penguin had won. rhinos. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. much less millipedes.” “Actually. Bella. Quadrupeds like cows.” Bella purred. Not yet. penguins. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. She’d fallen for it. is red in tooth and claw. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. Beaten. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. But all was not lost. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. most notably bears. Recession. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. the climax of Animal Farm. or possibly rockhoppers. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids.in semi-human fashion. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. because penguins had done pretty well. Not completely. She was going to miss him. at bottom. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. sadly. dogs. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. The Great Chain explained a lot. Not by a long chalk. with shame. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. They hugged. Easy-going as a rule. by and large. She turned to her companions. they say. Well beaten. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. naturally. Branding. monkeys. Bella felt fit to be tied. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. they’d been living on a pig’s back. The entire journey had been a waste of time. She recalled. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. She’d been outsmarted.” Louis said. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. meerkats and prairie dogs. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. tigers. spiders and cockroaches. sheep. However. given its size and growth prospects. crocodiles are further down the rankings. . She glanced across at Kipling. or so she believed.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. guys. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. Worse. “I think it’s time to go. Clearly. “I’ll be staying here for a while. 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.
Aleksandr. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. Cambridge. “Thanks. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. Clean It. Shoot It. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. You’re too kind. I know. “…and. I’m afraid.0.” he giggled. “I think we can do better than that.” Mirthful. Trim It. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. Taste It. Her latest was called Snare It.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. Still chatting. “That’s our Simples secret.” She leant forward. for example.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. the way I skimmed so many others. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. Ever proper. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. I’m a fad. and the not so highly regarded Department of . Thanks.” the great brand man chuckled. including Catch It.” Touched. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. “If ever you need…” “Yes. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. However. “You gave Kipling the look. But I skimmed that particular entry. Beaten to his own punch line. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. I’m Flat Eric 2. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. I know. I’m a fraud. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. Assam. The meerkat was mistaken.” Louis laughed.” he said.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. kissed him on the cheek and. Follow me. Bella. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. To his shame and embarrassment. Attenborough. eyes shining with meerkat tears. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. before whispering in his ear. Apparently. Scoff It. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. Cook It. for starters. the vaunted TV naturalist. he looked forward to attending her lecture. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. “Why’s that. Toast It. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. with a come-here gesture to Louis. “I’m staying too.Sad-faced. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. condiments and preserves. which was sure to prove provocative. “I’ve got a lot to learn. She held him tightly. I could do with it. pickles. Bella. Skin It. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). as well as with sauces. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start.
suppliers.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. “After you’ve cleaned up here. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. Her utter amazement. With six legs and a little get up and go. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. Bella tried them on. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. the throng dispersed. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. Eventually. Under normal circumstances. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. “I’ve got something for you. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. bobcat’s your uncle. plus matching undergarments. ponytails. Before long. All six of them. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. the great . “But where?” Louis inquired. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. beehives. however. she felt the glimmerings of an idea.” “Many claws make light work. though. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. before you know it.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. I’m a desert rat. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. one Mustapha Midden. all with a snazzy scarab logo. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner.” With a flourish. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. “you need permission. “But how?” Bella asked. bookstore. “But surely. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. don’t you know. Mustapha stared at them askance. while rubbing his legs gleefully.” He rubbed his claws again. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. With the hood up. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. “I like this place. They were a perfect fit.Popular Culture.” Orlov said. So much so. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. Mustapha.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. lookingood-ladies palaver. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. she looked like a sacred ibis. and. “You might be needing these for your journey. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. raw material. they emerged into a compact.” “No can do. credit…” No less nonplussed. Can’t stand the cold. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces.” Orlov said. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. “All sold out. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. Mustapha pulled out a full-length.
Bella hugged Aleksandr. the scribe.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. where she awaited further instructions. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. Louis. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. . then mounted her de luxe conveyance. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. she was gone. On Kipling’s call. the arbiter.
If he’d been on this Rolls. anymore. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. During the appeasement era. “Yah. She asked instead about the brand. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. she was getting used to it. Paris Humboldt. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. serene. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. If not quite Anna Karenina. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. “They don’t make ’em like you. “We fiddled while the brand burned. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. Bella replied in the affirmative. she had lost her best friend. Ogilvy hated flying. Isaac and Nina. she asked. As they rose to their cruising altitude. redolent of Roedean. much less defeated fierce macaronis. Bella didn’t hold that against her.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. 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. I am. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. suffice it to say. the offbeat plan solidified. She had nothing to lose. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. lowly place though it was. yah.” Ecstasy said immodestly. Bella thought. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point.” she replied diplomatically. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. then proceeded to deliver a blowby-blow account of the torrid love affair between Lord Montagu and Eleanor Thornton that instigated the emblem’s creation. Bella was spellbound. It was true what they said. under German ownership. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. luxurious. So did Bella. though. But after Pegasus and the Roc. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. As they flew over Fanta Falls. She had lost her parents. apparently.” “Rather.” she said. “You’re looking well on it. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . Why. with impenetrable jungle on either side.
all regimented. though some adélies looked up. all equidistant. I suppose. Bella could feel herself welling up.“That’s where we went wrong. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. rather than the narrative that surrounds it.” “Quite. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. “Yes. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. the Iceland ice shelf. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. He sounded crazier than ever. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and.” Taken aback. It was beautiful too. wrapped up . it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. A murmur commenced. don’t fall for it. Almost instantly. folks. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. She could see the Homebase Glacier. make the sale. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. It’s a trick. Bella believed. looking for a suitable landing site. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. look. an enormous shocked intake of breath. in the far distance. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. she mused. She was home.” All talked out. all shouting as one. it was bitter. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation.” “Tell the tale. Outraged. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. The bitterer the better. moreover. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. Bella whirled round. She could see them pointing their flippers. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. It was déjà vu all over again. It was invigorating.” Carried away on the wind. 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. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. Perched on the back of a flying angel. the deep blue Boots crevasses. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. Better yet. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. She couldn’t make it out at first.” Ecstasy sighed. Bella felt a chill in the air. He’s a tyrant. even though she’d no home to go to. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. Look. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. More and more turned round and faced skywards. Suddenly she could. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. Bella screeched at the multitude below. except that there were more macaronis than before. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. Buffeted by howling winds. Sad. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. The muster was much better organised. It was wonderful. Before long. a penguin power play. taking in the incredible apparition above them.
I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. it seemed. however. a way out for us all. a sign. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. Would it were otherwise. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. as her image appeared on the giant screen. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. in delight and relief. Bella swallowed. I met him. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. which of course is our community’s speciality. It was hard to control her anger. It was risky. All brands must pass. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. Denunciation was doomed. they seemed to say. a shot across the bows. Inadvertently.” Bella announced to the multitude. with only her beak protruding. As one creature falls in human estimation. These were the people who’d killed her parents. Having planted the seed of hope. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. Even macaronisation won’t save us.” She paused again. She bit her lip. “There is a solution. There is no hope for us. while pulling back her khaki cowl. Very risky. However. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. she must have been a baleful sight. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. The Ibis. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse.” she whispered to herself. as he tried to work out her angle. head covered in an enormous cowl. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. it needed several seconds to germinate. “I am. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. the coming creature is the prairie dog. “According to the Meow Jones Index. She held fire. Emperors.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. She knew she only had one shot. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead.” . Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. Antithesis. He quickly regained his composure. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. followed by those of gentoo descent. had finally arrived. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. “Seize the day. however. a messenger. here on behalf of ACME. We’re all macaronis now. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. because she was one of their own. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. The entire crowd squawked in horror. The crowd gasped again. another rises. She took a deep breath. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. But he couldn’t interrupt. It requires a little lateral thinking. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. He vacated the microphone. Ten days ago. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death.in a great taupe cloak. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit.
” the audience shouted. “Every prairie dog has its day. Bella thought. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. The old order would re-establish itself. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. Not bemused. I know. “Fear not. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. penguin parity didn’t exist. No more hairpieces. though. even though their natural crests would have to go too. royals royals.” He glared murderously. It was all or nothing. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. I want my MuMi. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. of all for one. will have to depilate.” Mmmm. emperors emperors. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. a little like isabellines. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. And take your tufts with you. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. It was the riskiest of the lot. Penguins are passé.” There was complete silence for a second. Kings could be kings. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. But with a sick slimeball like you. The gentoos jumped for joy.” she said calmly. They live in large communities like us. She had another card to play. Prairie dogs are tuftless. Having won over the doubters.” . “I’ll get you for this. she looked incredible. asshole. we’ll cull you.” “Catch you later.” “Don’t cull us. Even our most extravagantly crested species. complete with stylish scarab logo. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. though. “I want my MuMi. No more tufts. because I’ll be back. but the rewards are enormous. “I want my MuMi. Victorious. a huge roar of approval rent the air. The dream did. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured. Bristling with rage. as the gathering made up its mind. critter. you isabelline bitch. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided.” “Not today you won’t. I’ll make an exception. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. No more macaronisation. She already had. Today is my day. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. Enjoy it. of togetherness. “Fellow penguins. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. Playful as always. she turned away from the podium. Not sceptical. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. where you belong. “It means removing all tufts. like us. The blackfoots went bananas.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. such as our beloved macaronis.The audience exchanged glances. They look a little like us. one for all. Suddenly. sadly. In reality. This is a heavy price.
Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. Look on the bright side. she’d never felt so lonely. Finny too. 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.and laptop-equipped cubicles. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. she had a job to do. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. Still. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . 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. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. prevalent though pigeonholing was. since penguin popularity had never been higher. admittedly. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. Sean the Sheep on the other. After receiving the congratulations of the Adarctic colony – even the emperors deigned to speak with her – and after recounting an edited version of her adventures to all who asked. there were MuMis to move. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. she told herself. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. or to complain about stereotyping. Where there’s muck there’s brands. She never really did. according to Mr Kipling. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. mashups and graphic novels. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. Rin Tin Tin. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. However. they dreamed dreams of freedom. Orlov had said. She didn’t belong anymore. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. Pixar and Dreamworks. Donald Duck. Except it didn’t last long. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. True. It was unnecessary. The cuter the critter. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. Akin to chained animals in their phone. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. be it the iPod. trampled on though they were. For ever. the more they exploited it. but really didn’t now. In the meantime. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. Alone with her thoughts. if not his totemic tufts. Stuart Little on the one hand. Thoughts of her dead friend. was draining away inexorably. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. Mickey Mouse. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. Thoughts of her late parents.
” she chided. Bella was all alone. On a whim.” “Goody! Gotta go.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. smiling at the strangely distant memory. No one was looking. Mummies are special. Logistics. Mustapha. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. She had a busy time ahead of her. she said her fashionista farewells. “I hope you realise. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. air kiss. suffice it to say. However. Mummies mean a lot. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. “I’ll be needing agents. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. Evening. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. who was hard at work on his furballs. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. Air kiss. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. especially to those without them. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. She stared over the edge of the glacier. Ciao. Bella. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. “that there are forty million cats up north. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. many maintain. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. Seemed pretty stout. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. The sun was low in the sky. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. I’ll be passing on P&G. if there were problems with build quality. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head.” With a smile of admiration. such as it was. the ride was really rather thrilling. was drawing in. She glanced around. Laughing. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. let alone satanic macaronis. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. darling. because they already embody the brand. It was time to pay her final respects.” “I hope you realise. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. “I’ll work on it. .deliverer.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. Mustapha changed the subject. she Skypied Mustapha. Actually.” Mustapha countered. Mustapha. She checked her MuMi ensemble. The crevasse caught her eye. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. you know. She felt the material with a flipper.
across the bay. my head hurts. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. Waterlogged. not looking where she was going. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents.“Weeeeeeeeee. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. however. young woman. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece.” Bella dived head-first into the void. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. beak aching. A sheet anchor. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. She pushed and pushed and pushed. trying to focus. Go faster. howling. Bella shook her head. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. moaning and groaning. Head throbbing. The kaleidoscopic colours. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. in fact. shrieking with alarmed laughter. past slackjawed. Pale Tiffany blue to start. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. But only for a second. were incredible to behold. Both of them did. unquestionably. A death sentence. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. BMW Blue. Paris. slow-witted leopard seals.” . She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. water-resistant. more like. She bounced over bumps several times. her death wish. “Izzy. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel.” “I…I…I…Oh.” he observed. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. eyes watering. Pepsi-cola Blue. screaming. but was far too fearful to care. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. the great divide. she remembered the wall of death. “You should be ashamed of yourself. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. She hurtled round bends. Isaac and Nina. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. more like. yourself especially. Recklessly. as there always are. She could see stars. It got caught around her ankles. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. Uncle Izzy. the precipitous final plunge. the warp-factor slide into the sea. to no avail. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. Despite her abject terror. it descended through IBM Blue. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. All of a sudden. She corkscrewed like crazy. The previous ride was coming back to her. no way. She tried to kick the thing off. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. Alarm bells ringing. apart from that downpour up the jungle. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. She’d forgotten how fast it was. punctuated by periods of blind panic. The looming twosome merged into one.
” . mummy. She’s happy the way she is. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. They rushed toward her. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. Disappearing off like that. what have you been doing with yourself. she toward them.” Smiling indulgently. But her outfit saved her. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. The decision was made. Overcome with emotion. daddy. you say?” “Yes. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. “So. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. you know. However. a proper job. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. sleeping gently. and then she saw them. daddy. to one side of the wall of death divide. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. followed his indicative flipper. They couldn’t find her. head completely clear. dearest. daddy. to his delighted consternation. it was Bella’s decision. Staggered. We smuggled her to safety. Daddy. surrounded by screens. “Your parents are worried sick about you. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. looking pale and interesting. “Worried sick.” “Miracles never cease. Bella scampered across to her best friend. They assumed the worst.” He had her on “are”. heads bent. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. daughter of mine. You owe them an apology. They all talked at once.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. Bella’s parents came to join her. “Mummy. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. not knowing what to expect. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. Plans to get a real job.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way. Bella leapt up. she didn’t know what to say. Ecstatic. There the heiress was. she hugged her parents with all her might.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there.” They looked up. all distant relatives. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. huddled together. They had their hands full with Paris. mummy. “Paris is perfectly fine. manifestly in mourning. worried sick. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. There’s a bit of scarring. but she’ll live. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. backs bowed. “No. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. Without a by your leave.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. no. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. young lady. She peeped anxiously over the screen.
Let me explain.“What??!!” “As I said.” THE END . it’s a long story.
com. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. who would win?” And. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. “That’s a good question. 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. 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. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. the ebullient founder of Amazon. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace.” “Like a secret message.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. and the perfect work will do both. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings.” “Or a plan. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. Although no topic was taboo. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. Way back in the early days of the company. you know. plans and profitability. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. without fail. for example. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. on the web. prospects. that at some point in the proceedings. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known.” Needless to say. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. Daisey. because we need to be the . Who will win. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. I have no fucking idea.
I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. it pains me to report. But. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. bombastic and. Aflac duck. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. 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. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters.2 Much to my surprise. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. I cast around for excuses. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. Jaguar’s jaguar. though. I didn’t get round to most of them. Puma’s puma. I conceded. I mean. Granted. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. I surmised. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. Maybe. All things considered. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. Maybe. boring. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. petroleum. the bears who come equipped. I made a start on several others. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. Some time ago. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. I mused. They found it dull. today’s multi-tasking. Some students were blown away. a sure fire cure for insomnia. 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. admittedly.3 Taken aback by this reaction. 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. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. favourably. and. I fully expected the students to respond positively. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). short. We begin with a little bit of backstory. interestingly. enthusiastically. hey. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . Maybe.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it.armed bears. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. the students hated Levitt’s essay. Bears with guns.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. the case studies in the original – railroads.
tongue-in-cheek. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. and The Lost Logo. The antidote. much less reading the wretched things.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. Nevertheless. As an inveterate booklover. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. Between 2005 and 2008. Marilyn Monroe. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. while queuing up for the cash register. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. But then I noticed something intriguing. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. The Marketing Code. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. You couldn’t make it up. I did what many novice novelists do. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. Agents & Dealers. as they say. One was the latest management bestseller. what’s more. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). if not undaunted. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). the writing role model was Dan Brown. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. by the task I’d set myself. as an aberration. clearly. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. I had never written fiction before. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. 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. 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. There was only one problem. as did Bono. Let alone thrillers. Except that I did. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. When flying around the country. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. as a quirk of the Irish. If anything. . and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. secret codes proliferated. Undeterred. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. naturally). They cost an absolute fortune. My students.5 Dead bodies abounded. Once again. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. In my case. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). in effect.Unfortunately.
a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. By far my biggest mistake. And quite a few of my later ones. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. Yes. the kernel for the covering. if truth be told. The whole process. characterisation and more besides. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. Like any learner. Essentially. Stork margarine.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. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. Red Bull energy drink. similarly. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. True. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. 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. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. though. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. 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. The published reviews were reasonably favourable.). funnily enough. action sequences especially. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. My original intention was to leave things there. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. However. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. as it gave me . say. The same is true of fiction. never mind bring them all together successfully. Crocs shoes. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. I suppose. However. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. It seemed like an interesting project and. Nowadays. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. full stop. etc. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees.In retrospect. techniques and writing style of academia. of William Golding. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. 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. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. chronology. Students. Ditto my fiction. consumer behaviour. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. pacing. was that I tried to do too much. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding.
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”. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. In television. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. In the visual arts. car parking in Tel Aviv. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. I mean. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. The Penguin’s Progress was born. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Let the brand characters be characters. admittedly. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. mashups are digital medleys. What’s more. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. computer applications et al. In this case. he commanded. Canterbury Tales. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. the way I did before. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. the reader. In movies. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” . a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. In the literary world. videos. Stop writing parodies. meanwhile. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. songs. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. the breakup of rock band Oasis. Rob Williams. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. Whistler. wasn’t impressed. Bring the brands to life. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. My brilliant publisher. bits of bytes brought together as books. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. not unlike those in the Decameron. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. Rob cut through the crap. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. Pom Somkabcharti.7 In music. et al. Arabian Nights. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. are exemplary media mashups.
whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. on roadside billboards. their copyrights. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. their intellectual property. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. which features more than 3. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. though a hardline.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. between the covers of glossy magazines. In a shared narrative space. Brand characters are trademarked. consumer response has been highly favourable. Indeed. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. That said. among others). Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. Charlie the Tuna. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. True. for certain consumers at any rate. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. of late. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. Ask any counterfeiter. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. What’s more. As one commentator ruefully observes: . which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. let alone Red Lobster. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. 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. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. fan fiction. That elephant is called copyright. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. in the main.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. There’s an elephant in the room. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. Pattern Recognition. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. she’s Borden born and bred. Jennifer Government. however. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted.
my incredible family – Linda. Madison. but the conventional marketing textbook. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. unconventional ways. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. professional sports teams. For one thing. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. and. bears or tigers. 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. . The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. We seek to empower kingdoms. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. the genius screenwriter. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. except for the lawyers. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. Rob Williams. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. the standard academic article. then we may all. The Bedside Book of Beasts. As pastoralists and sport hunters. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. however. TPP is an attempt to do just that. Alun Richards. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. As a critic by inclination. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. To normal human beings. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. should be directed at me. original. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. 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. This attempt may not be successful. 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. their teeth and genital organs. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. Any criticism. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. who was a notorious borrower. though. I grant you. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. And yet. nations. last but not least. live to regret it. That’s their prerogative. hawks or eagles. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. we pulverise their livers and bones. It does so with satirical intent. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. the “Faber Fellowship”. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. As if. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. Just think of Handel. the author. the dreadful how-to tome. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas.10 I can’t deny.
See Stephen Brown. Thank you for reading this far. pp. experiment and belief. My only defence is that. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. scientific and irrational. as a card-carrying academic. As a group. Yes. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. 1986). But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. whose art takes from then and now. compared to some mid-life crises. Speaking personally. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. 9899.com (Fourth Estate. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. incidentally. from Claude and the comic book. 209-238. This may well be so. you! If you have any comments on the novel. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. The younger generations are prepared to read. London. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. 7. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. Still available from all good charity shops. I’m acutely conscious that. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. Among northern peoples. Both. for example. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. and Christ the Lion of Judah. 3. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. such as iPhone apps. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. bears are renowned spirit guides. 2002). helpful or destructive. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan.Mike Daisey. or scavengers. 4. or a deceptive mixture of the two. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. pp. You may be wondering why I’m writing a book when today’s youngsters are increasingly reluctant to read and Google is allegedly adversely affecting the limited reading skills they possess. 6. are available in his excellent anthology. 2004. Marketing Theory 4 (3). 2005). New York. You glutton for punishment. mine has been reasonably productive. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals.com Notes and References 1. However. It’s very widely cited. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. 5. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. computer games and videography. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. Don’t all rush at once. and the ancestors of humanity. in what seems to be a search . As with all symbolic representations. London.feathers. we need to explore other platforms. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. and body-parts from the earliest of times. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press.sfxbrown. 2.
p. 19 (1). 9. 10. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. Psychology and Marketing. 5 June. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. Sunday 25 April. . The Observer. Loftus. 2010. John Naughton. 2010). London. 21. New York. 6-7).for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. check out Lawrence Lessig. London. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. pp. On the on-going copyright debate. 2005) and his more recent polemic. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. 8. 2002. pp. “Entering a whole new head space”. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. Braun. London. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. 2009). 2008). 2008). Kathryn A. 1-23. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. 2010. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. Culture Magazine. Chicago. The Sunday Times.
the Hofmeister beer bear. Captain Birdseye. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. the Bisto family. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. Aunt Jemima. whether it be A Bathing Ape. the Michelin Man. many more. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. 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. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. the Vodaphone pug. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. or the Noid.1 Well. the Bon Ami .2 It follows. Most of these mentions. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Hartley. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. Anthropomorphically speaking. Howard Brown. 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. Ronald McDonald.com sock puppet. Colonel Saunders. Pillsbury Doughboy. Fido Dido.151 individual entries. the Coppertone Girl. Julius Pringles.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Elsie. Morris the Cat. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. J. the Vlasic stork. Nipper. the HMV dog. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22.R. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). the Mytag repair man. this is as it should be because “We are people. all told. After trawling through websites. Of this total. perhaps inevitably. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. Cheeka. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Veritably Clean. such as Hello Kitty. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. the Pets. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. moreover. assorted Scottish Widows and many. are made in passing. Joe Isuzu. Uncle Ben. the Morton Salt Girl. a shades-wearing. the Burger King. Crazy Eddy. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. not entirely. the Borden cow. We know a lot about ourselves. Johnny English. the Gold Blend couple. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. my dataset comprised 1. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. Bertie Bassett.
vegetables and plants (e. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. for instance. ladybirds.3 A secular trend is evident too. owls impart wisdom. when the space race. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. Kangaroos sneakers. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same.g. albeit butterflies. multiply. no less). Australia of kangaroos. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. whales. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. perhaps surprisingly. turtles and lizards. cuckoos cause trouble. fecundity. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. Mr Kipling cakes. Penguin books. However. the Calvin Klein polo pony. Mr Clean. Wild animals are rather less popular. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. bring up the rear. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. the Dodge ram. the Monster. Puma sportswear. The first of these involves national animals. Broadly speaking. Insects.com and Bell Canada beavers. Dove deodorant. spiders. mystify. whereby the brand name. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. India of elephants and so forth. Mr Peanut. Crocs shoes. needless to say. caterpillars. Toilet Duck. anthropomorphic mobile phones. storks bring children. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). Cobra beer. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. Tom Tomato). unsurprisingly. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. Aliens. In some cases. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. etc). 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. Betty Crocker. Woodpecker cider. France is fond of roosters. Chiquita Banana. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. Shell petrol. mix. the logo. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. In addition to the overall pattern. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). Camel cigarettes. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. South Africa of springboks. as are personified fruits. eagles and horses are popular in America. the Aflac duck. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. the Lacoste crocodile. As you might expect. The match model is characterised by congruence. seahorses. thanks to Steven Spielberg. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). freedom. dolphins. More recently. Jaguar cars. This is very much in keeping . Californian Raisins. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. Le Coq Sportif. Slow Cow anti-energy drink.chickens. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. fireflies and. Birds. furthermore. Cap’n Crunch cereal.
the penguin. the Airwick ostrich. rarely go off the rails and. animal mascots are not immortal. begat Chipper. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. the Lacoste crocodile. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. black. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. the 9Lives spokescat. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). the Toys R Us giraffe. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). believe me). Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. glowering. is perhaps the . Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. Since 1994. don’t complain. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. The fourth stage. the Kool cigarettes penguin. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. Maturity is marked by multiplication. by contrast.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. all things considered. the Trix rabbit. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. the Budweiser Clydesdales. That said. whose name you’ll never ever guess. basically speak on behalf of the brand. but the mystify strategy is something else again. the Cheetos cheetah. Geoffrey. 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. Larabee. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. Chester. each with their own colourful personality. the HMV dog. Beauregard. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. similarly. the Hush Puppies basset hound. except that they work for free. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. Congenital critter creep is one thing. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. Morris. In effect. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. Nipper. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. At one stage. Leo. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. fire-breathing dog with six legs. indeed. the belief that if one critter is good.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. though. Willie. Multiply. way back when. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. the MGM lion. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic.
We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. uncertainty and rapid technological change. Their characters. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. animals remain fair game. 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. continue to be caricatured and vilified. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny).most fascinating of all. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. so too today’s terrorist outrages. age. Le Penguin notwithstanding.0 – cf.6 Be that as it may. religion. stupid cows. sly foxes. the same is not true of animals. etc. etc. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. In general terms. 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 this regard. 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. more childlike. True. their “natures”. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. which increases opportunities to view. 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. sexual orientation. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. promiscuous rabbits etc. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. the sleep of reason produces mascots. gender. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. nevertheless.7 Whatever else is . 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. more cuddly. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. like death. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. The brand character. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. cheeky monkeys. wise owls. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa).5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. if anything. social class. more cherubic. Pace Goya. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). gets younger. their personalities.
Anthropomorphically. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. p. BTW. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. Stephen J. Tony the Tiger’s only son. however. in years to come. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. C’est la vie. 88 (1). which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. Oxford. Pegasus and so on). p. 2001). accessed 4 May 2010. trans. many of which can fly (dragons. at any rate. 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. See Al Ries and Jack Trout.rollingstone. Note. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. pp. check out Stephen Brown. 3. Rolling Stone (1082-1083).said. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. xi. 2004). includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). 13 July. about our great economic cataclysm.This worldview. p. Natural History. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. The more things change in western capitalism. [original 1962]. Lovejoy. 1936). 129. 7. 89) explains. New York. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. Totemism. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. Cambridge. p. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Gould. 2009. London. 5. more submissive. 1979. “The great American bubble machine”. Stewart Guthrie. www. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. 1995). 30-36. incidentally. 2. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. 8. London. Matt Taibbi. The sum effect is arrested development. 1964. phoenixes. 4. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. Cambridge. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. . 2009).com. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. 89). My database. far less hardy. 2000). twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury.8 Notes and References 1. London. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. If you want to suffer further. the more things stay the same. griffins. Claude Lévi-Strauss.