The Penguin’s Progress

:
A Mashup for Managers

by

Stephen Brown

In Loving Memory

Isobel Brown (1919-2008)

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

Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples. 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.

mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. How he got in my pyjamas. is a universal trait.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas.and duck-tails). never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. We’re anthropomanes. 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”. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. the constellations in the heavens. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. Chicago Bears. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. dance steps . The totem poles of native Americans. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. Andersen and Adams. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. Sydney Swans). I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. There’s one thing I do know for certain. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie.1 Twenty years hence. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. as are our haircuts (pony-. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. like Tony the Tiger. one and all. presumably. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. 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”. Anthropomorphism.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. A great mascot. I don’t know. Apuleius. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. It is ancient and ineradicable. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. pig. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. 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. however. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. They are the embodiment of the brand. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise.

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

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

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

make the products more readily available. . Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. for instance). which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. 31. p. “Crocodile” Dundee. Childishness. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. 3. 2010. “reification”. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. 2010 Notes and References 1.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. Christine. “Money”. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. p. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. Donald Duck). they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. Strictly speaking. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. free gifts. targeting the child within is no bad thing. likewise. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. as was the dismayed £ sign. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. as academics like me are inclined to do. Richard the Lionheart). Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. Thomas the Tank Engine). Thumper. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. However. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. Zoomorphism is the opposite. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. 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. But don’t take my word for it. 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. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. 23 May. nostalgia-prone world. see Matt Williams. 4. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. Oh yeah.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. is not to be sneezed at. the brand may benefit in the long term. 2010. Reduced availability increases desire. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Campaign. 4 June. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. The Observer. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. there’s one other issue. Dumbo. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. 2. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity.

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

In more ways than one. Stifling a sob. stumbled toward the shoreline. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . belching. in the lee of the LG glacier. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. Reported to the penguin police force. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. penguins of every imaginable breed. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. overcome with grief. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. weeping all the while. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. the agglomeration was completely silent. A vast shallow hollow lay before her.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. No parent. Picking up speed as they descended. A microphone screeched. There were knots of kings. like stones across a millpond. nevertheless. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. hushed. where she paused to catch her breath. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. BrandLand was truly beautiful. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. more likely. The sun was stronger. and emerged huffing and puffing. perhaps. clusters of chinstraps. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. Distraught. expectant. With a heavy heart. 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. Blamed. she clambered up the ice steps. What else could she do? It was her duty. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. the views were spectacular. bands of blackfoots. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. Gentoos. Oddly. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. species and stripe. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. as everyone knows. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. bellowing elephant seals. onto its snow-strewn top.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

began dragging him out of the cell. Instinctively. Pantene Pro-V enriched. However.be fair. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. “Let’s find out what he knows first. Louis?” Playing for time. “And grease in just a minute. Stoically. It was P&G water. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. come to think of it. Ping.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. Mr Clean will clean your house. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. Julius. Is that what you’re saying. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. With a bestial bellow. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. Under normal circumstances. with a butt-ripping jerk. Ping. With enormous effort. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor.” Pringles ordered. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Surprisingly feminine forename. Veritably. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. Ping. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. past the Noid who’d nodded off. “You know I can’t tell you that. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. Ping. 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. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. moreover. a bucket. Without pausing for breath. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. Clearly. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. the one that controls cross-dressing. a board. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. The persecutor paused.” Clean went crazy. asswipe. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand .” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. This was no ordinary water. One-handedly. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. Sorry. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret.” the lynx sang tunelessly. Not so surprising. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. the pain would have been intolerable. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. It contained a chair. “Take it easy. both literally and metaphorically. especially for a brand with a raging hangover.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VII

Brands Can Only Get Better

Chapter Nineteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. she was gone. the arbiter. the scribe. On Kipling’s call. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. Louis. . where she awaited further instructions. Bella hugged Aleksandr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. the students hated Levitt’s essay. Bears with guns. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. I surmised. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. I conceded. boring. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear.armed bears. But. I didn’t get round to most of them. is the secret lovechild of Betty Crocker and the Michelin Man? Are Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima related? Does Morris the Cat eat Charlie the Tuna on Fridays? These are some of the questions I set out to answer in The Penguin’s Progress. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. Some students were blown away. I cast around for excuses. admittedly. petroleum. Maybe. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. Some time ago. today’s multi-tasking.3 Taken aback by this reaction. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. Maybe. Jaguar’s jaguar. All things considered. a sure fire cure for insomnia. the bears who come equipped. I made a start on several others. We begin with a little bit of backstory. interestingly. I mean. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. and. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down.2 Much to my surprise. They found it dull. Puma’s puma. favourably. Granted. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. it pains me to report. the case studies in the original – railroads. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. enthusiastically.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. Maybe. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. Aflac duck.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. short. though. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. And now that BrandLand “exists” – as a kind of Oz with advertising – there’s no reason why it can’t be revisited from time to time. I mused. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. I fully expected the students to respond positively. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. bombastic and. I asked a large group of students to read Ted Levitt’s legendary article “Marketing Myopia” and write down their reactions to the great guru’s words of wisdom. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. hey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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