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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. So much so. 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?” And. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it.” Needless to say.” “Like a secret message. I have no fucking idea. As an Amazon serf explains in his side-splitting account of “Jeff’s gorilla and bear thing”: We would all laugh very hard and look knowingly at each other. and the perfect work will do both. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. prospects. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. for example. Who will win. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. 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. Way back in the early days of the company. “That’s a good question. Although no topic was taboo. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. on the web.” “Or a plan. the ebullient founder of Amazon. you know. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning.com. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. without fail. plans and profitability. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. that at some point in the proceedings. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. because we need to be the . Daisey. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). perhaps inevitably. this is as it should be because “We are people. Bertie Bassett. Fido Dido. Pillsbury Doughboy. Crazy Eddy. Elsie. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. the Burger King. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. Of this total. Veritably Clean. 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. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. Uncle Ben. Aunt Jemima. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. the Pets. J. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Howard Brown. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. Johnny English.R. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums.com sock puppet. the Mytag repair man. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Julius Pringles. Colonel Saunders. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. Most of these mentions. We know a lot about ourselves. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%).151 individual entries. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. or the Noid. Nipper. the Bisto family. my dataset comprised 1. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. the Vlasic stork. the Michelin Man.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 Vodaphone pug. the HMV dog. such as Hello Kitty. Hartley. the Coppertone Girl. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. are made in passing. 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. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Morris the Cat. moreover. the Hofmeister beer bear. not entirely. Ronald McDonald. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Cheeka. the Borden cow. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. After trawling through websites. the Morton Salt Girl. the Gold Blend couple. Captain Birdseye. all told.1 Well. Joe Isuzu. whether it be A Bathing Ape. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22.2 It follows. assorted Scottish Widows and many. Anthropomorphically speaking. a shades-wearing. many more. the Bon Ami .

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

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

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

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

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