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A Mashup for Managers
In Loving Memory
Isobel Brown (1919-2008)
Animal Crackers: A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers Part I: Adarctica Calling Chapter 1: Where the Wild Brands Are Chapter 2: The Pied Penguin Chapter 3: Ciao Bella Part II: BrandLand Ho! Chapter 4: The Axe Man Cometh Chapter 5: Making Wishes, Keeping Promises Chapter 6: Brandback Mountain Part III: Sure of a Big Surprise Chapter 7: Farewell to Farms Chapter 8: Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Chapter 9: Honey Still for Three? Part IV: I’ll Take Madhattan Chapter 10: The Sound of One Paw Clapping Chapter 11: Old McDonald had a Brand Chapter 12: Beau Jest Part V: Just Deserts Chapter 13: Mista Kipling, He Dead
Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony. Tony. Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding .
humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. A great mascot. The totem poles of native Americans. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. through the mildly pornographic “two giant mutated phalluses” to the positively unpleasant “looks like someone spat on the ground and draped a Union Jack over it”. is a universal trait. as are our haircuts (pony-. Andersen and Adams. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell.and duck-tails). like Tony the Tiger. We may learn to love “Mandeville” and “Wenlock” and wonder why on earth anyone would want to describe them as “insipid extras from some Pixar spin-off”. I don’t know. 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. Chicago Bears. the constellations in the heavens. There’s one thing I do know for certain. is almost as priceless as MasterCard.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. How he got in my pyjamas. It is ancient and ineradicable. one and all. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. pig. presumably. They are the embodiment of the brand. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. however. Sydney Swans). —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. dance steps . are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. We’re anthropomanes. A postmodern Walter Raleigh.1 Twenty years hence. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. Apuleius. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. Anthropomorphism.
4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. Getting it right means survival. hidden hands.(foxtrot. 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. it is a developmental trait. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. which considers our earth to be a living. cartoon strips (Peanuts. emotions. apes in the corner office. dead dogs. limbs and the like. graphic novels (Maus. big hairy audacious goals. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. men on the moon. find that this is much easier said than done. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. tarantella). Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. dancing elephants. getting ducks in a row. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. furthermore. breathing. lungs. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion.5 What’s more.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. hive minds. long tails. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. are routinely regarded as organisms. For others. because it is in our best interest to do so. storytelling squirrels and so forth. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. for example). animal spirits. cash cows. self- . Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. orbiting hairballs. its ubiquity is not in doubt. Fred Basset). everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. 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. Ninja Turtles). bunny hop. consciousness. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. hearts. Angry Birds). fat cats. SimAnimal. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch.6 Even natural scientists. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. Needless to say. welfare. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. Fables. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. with brains. cheese moving mice. It helps us identify potential predators. associated with childhood in particular. computer games (EyePet.9 Business organisations. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. Far Side. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious.3 For some. If anything. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. black swans. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence.
of edutainment for marketers. 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. flirt. Guinness. insofar as it features a secondary world. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. say. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar.regulating entity.10 Indeed. Its ultimate aim.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. Watership Down. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. the legendary American adman. Undergraduate students especially. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria.11 Viewed in this context. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. much as I hate the neologism. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. It’s a work. Black Beauty. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. However. Brer Rabbit. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. after a fashion.13 This is a book about brand mascots. Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. much less White Fang. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. Who Moved My Cheese?. The Way of the Rat. managers and would-be marketing managers. But many of them lack pizzaz. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. . I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. Squirrel Inc. is “alive inside”. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. much to the relief of consumers. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. As such. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. to be more precise. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. flourish and fight for the right to party. both tearful and terrifying. Wind in the Willows. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. moreover. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. There are lots of books about brands and branding. Or. Meanwhile. forage. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. is to educate as well as entertain. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. 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.
however. is quintessence. To Thy Own Brand Be True. The best loved brands. persuaded. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. especially so). not to say a “take-away” or two. They increase output. are inherently conservative (raving fans. in the mass. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. The theories. it is matched forthwith. by and large. then.14 I’m conscious. Just for you. the exemplification of that niche. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. Managers feel the need to make changes. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. though. becoming the embodiment. however. they extend the range. frankly. The fifth P. like the fifth element. They have to be convinced. they . Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. all of which are functionally equivalent. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. of out-and-out obstinacy. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. Worse. Products and services do not sell themselves. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. The go-to brand. They don’t need more of anything. they are prone to the next big thing thing. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. Consumers. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. though. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. The Customer is Always Right Wing. in short. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t.15 The Fifth P is a Q. of antipathy. if one makes a move (new feature. for fear of being left behind. cajoled. long before customers feel that way. Persuasion is the key word here. In a world of identikit products and services. The Next Big Thing Thing. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. All the way to Clone City. hive minds and what have you. have been around for a very long time. the epitome. new whatever). The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. shake things up and refresh the brand. new product. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. Action-minded by inclination. new platform. Less is Sore. better yet. It is also true of principles. Hopefully.As a storyteller. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. new offer. prosumers. facts and more facts. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know.
Christine. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. Strictly speaking. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. 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. 3. Zoomorphism is the opposite. targeting the child within is no bad thing. as was the dismayed £ sign. Richard the Lionheart). for instance). The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. nostalgia-prone world. Campaign. The Observer. as academics like me are inclined to do. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. there’s one other issue. 23 May. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. free gifts. likewise. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. “reification”. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. Thomas the Tank Engine). It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. 31. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. Dumbo. is not to be sneezed at. 2010. p. “Crocodile” Dundee. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. But don’t take my word for it. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. the brand may benefit in the long term. However. Thumper. 2010 Notes and References 1. 4 June. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. 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. p. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. Reduced availability increases desire. 4. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. see Matt Williams. Donald Duck). anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. 2. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. 2010. Childishness. .make the products more readily available.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. “Money”. Oh yeah.
The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. According to Morgan Trimble. 1992). Needless to say. London. The Sunday Times. 343-373. 10. 2007). 2005). 15. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. Images of Organization. 6. 9. Gareth Morgan. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. pp. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. the key statement is John S. updated edition (Sage. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. 215). 8. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. “Scientists are people too. 14. 1998. Oxford. New York. John Berger. 2008) and Tony Thorne. The companies acts. are second to none. p. Journal of Consumer Research. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. for example. It’s full of animal errors. 19. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. “If you want to survive. London. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. p. . The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. This book. 23 May. by all accounts. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. 17 January. it’s not completely inaccurate either. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. 11. insipid. The Observer. They are bland at best and boring at worst. 2010. 14. Lions. BTW. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. 2006). 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. 2009). Cambridge. London. 13. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. 2005). Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. London. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. 5. Naturally. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. London. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. stories are on the up and up. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. Kennedy. soporific and so forth. 24 (3). Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. 1993). “Smarter than you think”. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. They fail to appreciate that conflict. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. nevertheless. 12.4. Richard Conniff. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. don’t be ugly…be cute”. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. See. 2010. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. 7. the character may well go global in due course. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. Incidentally.
). salt. The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. sugar and so on).16. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. etc. . though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. bottled water.
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. for one.” The tease worked. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. She twisted and turned. figure-hugging.” Exasperated. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. one-piece costumes. “I’m not sure pink suits you.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. gloves. beakaplasty. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. struggling to keep her face straight. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. The fad started innocently enough. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. what do you think? Am I way cool. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief.” she said. “Pelican pink is so this season. hot to trot. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. Paris. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. berets. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. Pounds too. a joint venture with Versace. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction.” Paris pouted. was almost as well known as . She needn’t have bothered. Silo and Roy. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. Fashion. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. “Hmmm. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. She had more important things on her mind. bending this way and that. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. Bella Adélie shook her head. The S&R logo. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. “Seriously. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. “It’s a Silo & Roy. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. you know. Not only were they completely unnecessary. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule.
” She said it without thinking.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. Consequently. But Bella knew better. which was tantamount to tropical. Paris. Bella. For all her selfabsorption. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. a spoiled rich kid.” Paris warned. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. “I’m sorry. “Mmmmm. Bella. as she so often did. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. she twirled. crunchy crustaceans. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. you should be more careful. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. others contended. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. the sky was blue. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. admiring her outfit. You should try some of this. whirled. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill.Armani’s stylised eagle. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. Or several. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. some said. An egomaniac. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. kicked up a heel. “With your genes. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. It’s delish. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. The sea was calm.” Bella mumbled. she was a bit roomy at the rear. in truth. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. the wind was light. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. iPods to dolphins.” Paris stuttered. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. A sob stuck in her crop. She adored McDonald’s. darling. Mmmmm.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. and share a McFlurry with the great man. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. smiled. simpered.” Bella replied lightly. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. yet others complained. the temperature hovered around freezing. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. I’m lovin it. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers.
admittedly. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. “Okay. They looked delicious. Bella. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. Gastric band. if she was related to a leopard seal. “What do you reckon?” she called. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. where elephant seal pups frolicked. A gift? Tiffany. sniggering. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. flipper on hip. I won’t take no for an answer. posing provocatively.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. her uniqueness. “Here. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. She did. I’ve got something for you. “Get this down your gullet. Bella. in fact. black and more black. I trust.” Bella commanded. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. They’re making another Madagascar movie. “Don’t be a silly billy. Clearly. her gene pool. flicking open the Happy Meal container. 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. starve now. Brown was the new black. Okay. “Come here immediately. like hedge-hopping rainbows. Except that pink was now in. much better than black. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. Be honest. bar none. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris. Cerise was chichi. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Casting next week. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. surely you know that.” Paris exploded with laughter. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest.” .” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing.” “What. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. Paris.” “Oh goodie. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. Penguin porn degrades our species. On the contrary.asked.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. Right now. fast later. Darling. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. “No can do.” Bella said. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. Paris. Paris wiped her eyes. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. But Paris declined. You’re coming with me to the food court. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring.
” “Whatever you say.” “Grrrr. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit.” “Well. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. as was the polar predator’s wont. Her face was a frozen mask. “I always carry one. Bella. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. I’ll be fine.” the soon-to-be superstar said. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. Bella mused. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything.” Filling up. Penguinapping is commonplace. never mind “this’ll do fine”. “Grrrrrrrr. “It won’t take long. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. Panic stricken.” Paris doth protest too much. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna. hoping against hope that . “Grrr. as anyone would.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. They’ve been performing since incubation. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. Grrrrr.” Bella knew very well. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind.“And the drastic gastric band. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. The role’s already in the bag. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper.” Bella shouted back. right?” “Le Tigre. 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. She knew that the part was hers.” “No. apparently. you know how it is in showbiz. tossed her up into the air. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. “Tell you what. maybe?” “Um. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. if not before. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. just in case. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. oblivious to the threat. Paris hugged her mottled companion. She turned to her companion on shore. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk.” she said with an apologetic smirk.
Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. Bloodstained. A dismembered limb. There was no sign of life. bitten and bloody. she fished the outfit out. Ripped. Tearful. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. To die for. indeed. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. . Bella wept. Aghast. Bella took a closer look. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. Sodden. her designer pride and joy.
more likely. stumbled toward the shoreline. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. she clambered up the ice steps. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. like stones across a millpond. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . overcome with grief. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. the views were spectacular. where she paused to catch her breath. In more ways than one. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. perhaps. the agglomeration was completely silent. bellowing elephant seals. Picking up speed as they descended. Gentoos. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. Distraught. penguins of every imaginable breed. nevertheless. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. as everyone knows. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. A microphone screeched. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. Reported to the penguin police force. onto its snow-strewn top. and emerged huffing and puffing. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. belching. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. No parent. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. Blamed. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. There were knots of kings. With a heavy heart. What else could she do? It was her duty. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. species and stripe. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. hushed. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. in the lee of the LG glacier. Oddly. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. weeping all the while. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. The sun was stronger. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. expectant. bands of blackfoots. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. Stifling a sob.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. clusters of chinstraps.
It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. “Nice outfit. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. 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. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. Curiously. Not never. lying. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. as the star took to the stage. cheating layabouts. blubbery macaroni. she had no alternative. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. Although she was well used to hostility. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. bloated. Not now. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. BrandLand. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. It was magnificent. nodding their approval. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. who were no-good. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. the carefully clipped pelt. Her presence was not appreciated. husky or not.. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. double-dealing. “This. A few snooty royals turned to attack. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. “is Dr Dogeatdog.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. some bristled their feathers. They couldn’t be trusted. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. As the long way round would have taken forever. Hesitantly. Lookin’ good. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. His crest. Until the crowd closed up. S&R. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches.. Her rate of progress improved immediately. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind.multitudes. though. the sapphire-studded collar. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. Devils in disguise. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. bitch. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here.
eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. ACME. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. ACME. “ACME. “Six weeks ago. Penguins are out of fashion. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy.” Dogeatdog reported. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot.” The uproar was indescribable. The kings kept their own council. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. the legendary Mr Kipling. Penguins have jumped the shark. they’d be okay. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. The penguin brand is overexposed. and that’s saying something. ACME. bluster. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. Penguins have saturated the market. ACME’s chief executive. Charlie the Tuna. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line.” Screeches of feedback. Out. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. the worst in living memory. on account of the drastic economic recession. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. blether. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. Worse was to come from the canine. however. Out. Whatever happened. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. Out. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. has concluded that a cull is called for. The bubble of blarney. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. A 10% cull. ACME. oversold. Out. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. Out. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. ACME. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. Over. Shouts of “ACME. Worse. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. to be precise. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. Out. Emperors exploded in anger. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. overstretched. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . in other words. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind.
agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. Why would there be? . We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. Indeed. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. However. We’ve cornered the mascot market. It was a done deal. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. He reported that the emperors. he paused for effect. There were no dissenting voices. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. a blessing in disguise. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. his voice a low-throated rumble. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm.” Le Penguin croaked. We’ve got to face facts. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. They know what needs to be done. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. the Toys ’R Us giraffe.” The big screen went blank.” Ever the showman. chinstraps and gentoos. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. “Brothers and sisters. by far the most populous penguin species. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences.” he began. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. no penguin gain. “Fellow penguins. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. The decision is yours. No. “the last few years have been good for us. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. No. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. We’ve got to get back to basics. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. as the order’s most overexposed species. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. No penguin pain. Good day to you all. The multitude fell silent once more. He announced that his own macaronis. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey.term.” 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. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. if the least high profile. his raddled face set in serious mien.
with murder in mind. There was no time to waste. She had to do something. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. however. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. Bella was falling behind. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. she closed . Bella stared into the chasm. She didn’t like heights at the best of times and dropping from a very great height at very high speed was her very worst nightmare.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. rockhoppers. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. Petrified. There was only one thing for it. their marvellously mottled appearance. was almost entirely frictionless. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. The superslick surface. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. it came pretty close. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. On the contrary. breathing heavily. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. pitch-black ice tunnel. Her parents were dead meat. they’d taken pride in their otherness. Paris’s parents would have to wait. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. their difference. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. anything. 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. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. Digging in her heels made no difference. Bella jumped feet first into the void. The rookery nook. it was a death trap. She had to warn them. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear.
Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. skimming. What was that? Bella cocked an ear.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. but a great divide in the path. A crab.” . The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. A dirty rotten rat. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. Then started again. licking his lips. “I’ve got you now. Luckily. though. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. Ffft. They’d been taken away and taken out. in the community’s communal crèche. hunched behind a boulder. close to her parents’ nest. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. yet with a mounting sense of dread. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. She didn’t know which way to turn. Excitedly. Ffft. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. Some nests were still warm. Ffffft. It was completely devoid of life. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. Anguished. possibly. it wasn’t a wall. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. She screeched and tried to stop. And failed. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. She opened her eyes fractionally. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. she clambered over the rocky detritus. Something was moving. probably. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. she advanced toward the creature. Fffft. disturbed the eerie silence. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. backing it into a corner. Our Flipper. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. was ripped to shreds. A large leopard seal loomed before her. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. A petrel. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. carooming. The wetsuit. It stopped. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. most likely. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. They’d been rounded up already. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. Then stopped. twitching. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. panting with exhaustion. deserted. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. Fffft. Ffffffft. Flippers fully extended. you slimy son of a sheathbill. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. Bella cried out.
I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year.000 Facebook friends. the slender-torsoed. 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. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. My catchphrase is Simples.” Bella was at a loss. Sleepy.” Bella was baffled. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. Don’t you know who I am?” “No.” he drawled. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. dragging deeply. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. though the exact direction didn’t really matter. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. Not in a good way.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past.Astonishingly. erect-eared. We know a . “Sleepy. you disgusting wetback. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas.” he drawled. but I am big in Britain and Russia and.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. You are feeling sleepy. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren.” Orlov said. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. I think you have.” the penguin snarled. Towering head and shoulders above her. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. “I assume you’re familiar with my work.” “Simples?” “Simples. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket.” “Oh. I am the face of a price comparison website.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. I don’t know who you are. you understand. Sleepy. my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. of course. at your service. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and.000 Twitter followers and 3. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. Taken aback. a radio talk-show compère. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. The Russian steppes are thataway. “Aleksandr Orlov. “I haven’t finished with you yet.6 million hits on my homepage. sharp-faced. Very. all things considered. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. London’s over there somewhere. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. “How dare you address me like that.” he sighed. bless his cotton candy socks. my dear. “Modesty forbids. Very. “You. 32. the proud possessor of 600. trying her best to appear menacing.
um. The S&R wetsuit lay. “Suit yourself.” With a glottal gabble.” Bella started to step aside. much less dun-coloured rodents. if you must know. As the only mottled penguin in residence. We meerkats are social animals.” “Mmmmm. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. They’re here. But I prefer not to mix with the. she was first in line for the chop. perhaps we could pool our resources. “Flat Eric. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. Flippers on hips. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. “Simples. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME. “Well.thing or two about hypnotism. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. “He was a sort of soft toy. “I don’t think so. as if taking in the cave for the first time.” he said. avian classes. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment.” He made to go. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. where she’d left it. Not so Simples now. He looked around. Flat Eric’s been there. “Sorry. meerkat. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding.” But Bella beat him to it. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based.” He winked. not to say subliminal advertising. Two species are better than one. They looked resolute. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils.” “I see. I’m looking for someone.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. Advertising awards. ripped and ragged. a sock puppet. 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. However. Nor did Orlov. “since you put it like that. Hit singles. she blocked his path. “Too late. Enormous name recognition. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. he dropped off the grid. right beside the isabelline refuge. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. He knows the score.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. 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. . long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.” Bella shook her head.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. It’s a life-long learning. who was huge back in the days before YouTube.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
scurrying. There was no way those monsters could follow. mercifully. who stopped again. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. Every second was precious. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. adélies are much more petite than emperors. She could hear them discussing their strategy. . this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery. don’t you know.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. they said. but nothing like it used to be.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. suspecting a trap. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. determined. She struggled to keep up. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. uncompromising. scampering.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. he was off. ever-upward. “Well. although the fit was tight. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. stab. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. And bickering amongst themselves. I can’t believe it’s not butter. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. They paused at the mouth of the cave. Orlov seized the moment. blocking out the bright sunlight. “Let’s go. tear. Their bulk.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. There’s still a bit of discrimination. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. clawing like crazy. We didn’t think we needed it any more.and snow-filled shaft. The old enmities are behind us. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. “Meerkats. Indomitable. you flat-footed fool. searching for the ice. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. as he excavated ever-faster. Bella snuggled in behind him and. Bella shook her head. There was no escape.
” With a heavy sigh. darting back. They’re famous for it. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. “Forgive me. though. The reshoots were ridiculous. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. not a shearwater in sight. Simples. body doubles. Orlov just kept digging. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. apparently. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. It must be adhered to rigorously. he spluttered. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. Orlov scampered alongside. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. Or earshot. Orlov said nothing. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. dropping down on all fours.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. “Impossible. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. The man’s a slave driver. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. through the worst of the winter. You’ll have a lot to talk about. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north.” Chastened for the moment. They had a lot of reshoots too. Their feet sank in with a hiss.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. The thin crust gave way from time to time. allegedly. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. not a skua. However. dashing forward. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. I’ll accompany you for a little while.” Agitated. The snow squeaked as they walked. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. claymation models. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. They never let anyone forget it. digging. Gallantly. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. if you’ve had enough for one day. “The rookery’s thataway. Pity. sometime in the middle of April. My routine is sacrosanct.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. frankly. my dear. but ACME is not on my agenda. you know.” Bella snorted. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. Stand-ins. digging. not a penguin. Enjoy the twilight while you can. “Oh. They march for months on end. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. blocking her path. You have a lot in common. They’re big girl’s blouses. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. “When danger calls. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. “dandies discard. “Sundown?” she scoffed. He fell into step beside Bella. digging. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. even more gallantly. The place was deserted. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance.” he observed. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. then it’s midnight through September.
Let me know how you get on.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. snoring loudly. He rose up on his hind legs. Let’s wake him.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. Smirking. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. Poleaxed. On me. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear.” She made to move on. Smaller than a snow leopard.” “My paws were cold. preventing further progress. Bravely. Astounded. “It was because it didn’t work. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. the meerkat refused to budge. so far from home. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. that is. “I like a bird with spirit. “What’s that?” he said. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about. at your service. still with snow under the nails. “Louis the Lynx. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. they ploughed on. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. It works on everyone. pointing into the distance.” Bella apologised. A wild cat. apart from a slight headache. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. Minxes and lynxes . sleepy. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. perhaps. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy.” he purred. You mocked the master.” Orlov inveigled. Do you believe me now. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. You’re a minx. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. “Yes. It was feline. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. But you didn’t believe me. “Explain yourself.” “The simples minded. bigger than a mangy moggy. I think you’re my kind of penguin. I’m out of here. that’s what you are. Bounding towards them at top speed. fast asleep.” Louis meowed throatily. A black dot was coming towards them. “The bear is completely under my power. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. “I told you I could do it. Orlov stopped suddenly. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric.” Bella said.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. Chins tucked in. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was.
were made for each other. We’re kissing cousins, almost. What’s your name, baby? Rrrrrrrrrrr.” Thrown by the cheesy charm offensive, Bella didn’t know whether to kick him or kiss him, though she was leaning toward the former. However, she never had the chance to put the boot in, because Orlov was ahead of her, asking about the newcomer’s acquaintance with Flat Eric. It transpired that Louis was spokespussy for a popular brand of men’s toiletries, the worldwide market leader, no less. Louis’s Lynx was launched just as Flat Eric was lifting Levi’s jeans to new heights. They were old friends. They went back a long way. They’d kept in touch, even after Flat Eric gave up all that fame and fortune and fashion-forwarding for the life of a starving artist in New Yorkie.” “So you’re saying,” Orlov interrupted with consternation, “that Flat Eric’s in a loft in SoHo, not a cleft in SoPo?” Louis laughed. “SoPo? Is that what you call this desolate place? I was wondering.” “Actually, we call it the South Pole,” Bella bit back. “Adarctica, to be exact. And what are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be squirting your fancy fragrance in SoHo?” The hulking lynx growled seductively, stroking his luxuriant whiskers. “Oh, foxy lady! You saucepot, you. Just love your sassy asssssssss.” Bella went to biff the burly blowhard, but Orlov stepped between them and, with difficulty, steered the conversation back to basics. Louis, it seemed, was on the lookout for new markets. His brand was known as Axe in every territory except Britain, Ireland and Australia. He feared that his brand name was going the way of Spangles, Marathon, Jif, Ulay and countless other once-loved names that had been dropped in the interest of pan-national advertising campaigns. Unilever was unlikely to axe Axe, especially as it carried the masculine connotations that Lynx lacked. So it looked as though Louis was losing the fight for survival. Unless he could seize new territories before the Axe man got there. As markets go, SoPo was somewhat underdeveloped, not to say godforsaken. However its growth prospects were enormous, especially when global warming exposed the natural resources that lay beneath the icecaps and the climate was more equable. “So, you’re getting in at the bottom?” “Something like that,” Louis sighed, his playboy pose temporarily abandoned. Bella seized the day. “Have you thought of taking your appeal to ACME? The parent company is obviously discriminating against you. Animal rights must be respected. Axe is self-evidently androcentric. The Axe man is being promoted ahead of you. It’s worth a shot, is it not? It’s better rather than waiting for the ice to melt.” Impressed by the penguin’s persuasiveness, the lynx nodded appreciatively. “ACME’s in Madhattan, isn’t it? I took the tour once when I was Unilever’s blueeyed brand.” The scales fell from Bella’s eyes. Madhattan. Of course. Where else would ACME be? Where else would Mr Kipling call the shots? “We’re heading that way,” she said. “Orlov has to see a man about a sock puppet. Why don’t you join us?” “You know, I might just do that.”
“Better make tracks.” Bella clapped her flippers. “All together now. We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of ads.”
Making Wishes, Keeping Promises
The euphoria didn’t last. Before long, the brand alliance found itself suffering under the biting lash of bitter winds. They were further slowed by thigh-high snowdrifts and struggled to get their bearings, as an unseasonal blizzard blew up from the west. Heads bowed into the brutal assault, the trio trudged across the Ikea Ice Shelf toward the Nike Nunatak, accumulating thick coats of driven snow as they went. They looked like abominable snowmen. They felt abominable too. Despite the whiteout, Bella could sense that the land was rising. The terrain grew ever steeper as they worked their way round the pressure ridges of the notorious North Face Glacier, which was webbed with bottomless crevasses, themselves crossed by delicate ice bridges. An avalanche wasn’t inconceivable at this time of year. “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Louis asked, inching carefully across a vast ice arch, hung with icicles like translucent suspension cables. “Perhaps we should shelter until this blows over,” Orlov said. “How long do these things last, penguin?” “Oh, not very long. Just a week or two.” “What?” Louis yelped, almost losing his footing, sending a spray of powdered snow into the abyss beneath. “Only joking,” Bella said, noting that braggadocio melted rapidly in sub-zero temperatures. “It’s usually a month, minimum.” A large mound of medial moraine material loomed ahead of them. Snow covered one side of the lumpy bumpy deposit, like an amateurishly iced Christmas pudding. Nevertheless, it offered a convenient windbreak. Orlov quickly carved a hollow on the sheltered side of the hummock and they were soon huddled together in the confined space. It was as close to snug as things get in the most hostile environment on earth. “Try not to fall asleep,” Louis advised, “otherwise we’ll be frozen to death and be found decades hence like Captain Scott’s dog team. Not that I hold a candle for canines.” Orlov cleared his throat officiously. “Scott didn’t use dogs. That was his problem. Too kind-hearted. Couldn’t bear to kill them as required. The British care more about dogs than people.” “True,” Louis acknowledged, though as a registered feline he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Have you ever,” Bella asked, keen to contribute to the doze-deterrence exercise, “thought of selling Lynx into the animal companion market?” “Why stop at pets,” Louis laughed ironically, “when the entire animal kingdom’s gagging for body spray? How will they pay? Pawpal?” Orlov raised a quizzical eyebrow, speckled with snowflakes. As the world’s favourite brand animal – self-anointed, admittedly – he could see what the wildcat couldn’t. “Actually, that makes sense to me. Instead of seeking out virgin sales
not that there’s much else to admire. since Axe carries connotations of execution. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas.” Orlov boasted. I read Wikipedia incessantly.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. “Anthropomorphism. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. When you put it like that. Lurchers. my dear boy. “don’t knock it. so selling to them is the next natural step. . though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. Ask yourself. They make movies about mice that speak. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. moreover. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. Anything after. Lhasa Apsos and the like.” “Hey. moreover. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. Anything before B he was unbeatable. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. wildlife programmes in particular. I can see the campaign now. You test the things on animals. anyhow?” “Simples. a brand in a highly competitive market. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits.” Bella quipped. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. A sexy smelly shampoo. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. sensing a stay of Axecution. the bigger and nastier the better. “Correct. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. But she wasn’t quick enough. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. putting poor critters down. Even his chortle was charming. Louis laughed out loud. We’re built on a bubble of belief.” “Hmmmm. red.territories. Louis asked. with a grin. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. as Neolithic cave art attests. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare.” Orlov smiled. hope. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs.” Louis chuckled.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. lions that sing show tunes. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. he was a busted flush. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. Plus. adélies. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. desire.” Louis mused. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. Orlov lit up. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. extermination. don’t you. advertising. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. “How come you know so much about marketing. crows that crack jokes. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home.
” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive.” “You suggested no such thing. the moraine started moving. Bella felt sleepy. Bella and Louis said nothing. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. A joint venture. Bella wondered. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. Has been for years and years.” Orlov observed dryly. I couldn’t shake him off. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. like a karaoke Krakatoa. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. understandably. Eyes drooping. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. she wondered. Or Freudian psychosis.What do they put into their toiletries. You tried to run off. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. What kind of animal was a Fabergé.” Orlov said testily. Or a meow meow overdose. though. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. What wild accusations.” Louis was at a loss. Penguins pong pretty bad. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about. the hillock erupted. Their shelter. He thinks I’m the fox. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. well. Feathers? . If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. “Yes. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. The earth quaked. I wanted to rouse it.” The group descended into grumpy silence. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. He’s not best pleased. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. “Actually. She tried to resist. the Romanovs. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. 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. she looked around. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. “it was all a mistake. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. cruel culling. Louis. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints.” he said. With an almighty roar. scratching occasionally. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. perhaps. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. Mmmmm. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. His eyesight is not what it was.
he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. “I am Roc. 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. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories.” the Roc crowed.” “Zat is impossible. uh. “Zis is not BrandLand.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. Ally of Aladdin. He knew his Ali Baba too and. “Zat is so. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. while hopping from foot to foot. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado.” Gallic to its wingtips. face creams. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. with poststructuralist precision. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. if it’s not out of your way. as well as Aesop. Companion to Marco Polo. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. Not only were they getting somewhere. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. Encouraged. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. no less. “SoHo. Zis .” “So. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. as for Andersen. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other.” Bella added. “Zat I can. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. isn’t it?” he said. none of which are tested on ze animals.” Bristling. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. it isn’t. Having watched the negotiations in silence. with a smirk. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. Lord of ze skies. rather.” “No. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. Bella chanced her arm.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band.” Louis said. “We have three wishes.” the creature conceded.” “Zat I am.” Orlov insisted. Hans Christian. they might even end up where they wanted to be. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. “Three wishes. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. s’il vous plait. flapped them vigorously. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. “How far can you take us. Flipper. Everyone knows zat. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. “Well. “But this is BrandLand.
” Orlov commanded.” “D’Accord. “is Adarctica. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding.” he sniffed. a contiguous territory.is a mere dominion. as yet untouched by civilisation.” . Zis. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. “We’ll make our own way from there.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all.
Orlov. inviting. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. Far from being dropped from a very great height. snow-capped mountain ranges. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. Within a few minutes. With a low rumble of discontent. with a disbelieving look. as her mother often observed. A driving tail wind. by contrast. aerobatics. Isabellines can’t be choosers. Wings fully extended. then took off vertically. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. Beckoning. BrandLand. never mind jumbo jets. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. “If it offers us a choice of seating. Many hours later. The storm-tossed. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. Having read up on aeronautics. The meerkat glared at him. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. in all its magnificence. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. And we’re not talking Dumbos. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. Clinging on for grim life.” “Yeah. he knew there was nothing to fear. taking in the scene. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. rising thermals. the bird-borne party was above the storm. Back-beating furiously. then invited the threesome to mount. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. heading north. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. And then some. the trio was taken by the scenic route. lay spread-eagled beneath them. punctuated by clearly-defined territories.” “According to ancient myth and legend.” Louis said. and advertisers don’t either. They dismounted shakily. as its tagline proclaimed. into the eye of the snowstorm.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. lake-dappled lowland. eventually. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. the mighty Roc rose to its full height.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. don’t travel claw class. captivating. it flapped once or twice. . sat calmly. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem.
now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked.” the Roc said disdainfully. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. surely. then took to the air. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. 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. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. USA. Pop and similar elfish creatures. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. We might learn much from big biomass brands. The threesome looked up expectantly. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region.” Louis enthused. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone. Be veri. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. reportedly. directly ahead. veri careful. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. “Steer clear of ze jungle. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. wondering which territory to try first.” Orlov. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. Our task is to get to Madhattan.” “This isn’t a theme park. the local authority. “A word of advice. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. We’ve only had one wish. penguin. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. One wish per passenger. In the far distance. “Am I free to go. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. Crackle. We’ve two more to play with. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. disconcertingly.” it said.” Conciliatory though it was. the stomping ground of Snap. “And we’re not on vacation.” With that. pronto. and make Mr Kipling see sense.” “Can’t you count. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. My contract is complete. took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. we might learn much along the way. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. find ACME ASAP. PDQ. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district. swirling.” the big bird boomed. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger.An acknowledged expert in domain names. . “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone.” Bella snapped. the Lacoste crocodile. The Roc refused to elaborate.
Jingles rather. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. Dangerous though it was. She badly needed a breather. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. Every so often. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. “A Mars a day”. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders.“The nerve of it. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. The air was noticeably warmer here. stream-silvered dell lay below her. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. joined the others on their high country hike. But when she crested the rise. making a vast grassy corral. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. the My Little Pony palominos. after being frozen in flight. tussock-strewn.” “Cardboard cut-outs. . interspersed with red-berried rowans. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. birch-fringed. like an Alpine Shangri-la. cedar. Perplexed. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance.” A row erupted. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. Each accused the other of ignorance. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais.” Bella muttered. “I may be mistaken.” the meerkat said. A blissful. Bella recognised some of the tunes. though. That’s what Paris once told me. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. arrogance and absence of brand sense. plaidshirted.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. “Only the crumbliest. Louis scampered after her. you twat. Especially for a penguin. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. And that’s her smiling flock. Orlov. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. steaming waterfalls. Bella stumbled on several occasions. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. Bella left them to it. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. a frisky Ferrari broke free. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. larch and juniper. flakiest chocolate”. “Hands that do dishes”. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. she was too astounded to rest.
a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. an urban cess pit was their priority. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. Big Brand Equity. was impressed. sonorous and compelling. Duke’s voice was deep.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. not when there’s a lariat to hand. The legend introduced his pardner. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and.” . ma’am. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. they’re not axe-murderers. with only cows and cowpokes for company. let alone love. The good folks around here call me Duke. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. no siree. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. “Village people?” Louis echoed. tilted back his hat and grinned. It bespoke Big Country. of course. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. the bracing air. Bella was buying. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. wide west. Apart from an occasional wheeze. Bella opted for a formal greeting. son. Big Sky. where men are men.” The older cowboy. Much as the trio loved the mountains. There was no need to explain. Big Emphysema. but paid city slickers no heed. Agog. “Mr Marlboro. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. I presume. Whatever he was selling. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. “At your service. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. Big Flavour. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. The advertising icon was bemused. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. He had heard of ACME. with an anxious expression.She signalled for the others to join her. Big Satisfaction. Generously. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. The bad folks don’t call me at all. Welcome to God’s own country. where the village people would point them in the right direction. Even Orlov. the wide. “Don’t worry. as were her awe-struck associates. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
“that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. traffic cops. construction workers and able-bodied seamen.” Orlov stage whispered. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. “Yes. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. As the party progressed down dale. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. round rivulet and through thicket. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. plus several infuriating false starts. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. The rest is history.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. If they started up “Macho Man”. might be more than even he could handle.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. he’d join in the chorus. of all things. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. “Though if anyone asks. And as for “In the Navy”. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. on account of the filter tip. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. A camp camp containing red Indians. “Never had. Marlboro Country was invented and. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. the cowboy archetype was adopted. the Bon Ami chicken. never will. of all things. But the tat was an accident. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . Louis might have agreed with the rodent. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. After a fraught brainstorming session. It was originally targeted at female smokers. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. as did the manicured fields. As things stood. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant.” In ordinary circumstances. Modest to a fault.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. 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. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett.
If there was one thing the meerkat hated. saloon bars. Coors Country and their high. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. it said. redundantly. as the company advanced into Hamlet. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. overhanging eves. where Aflac ducks. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers.. which looked the worse for wear. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull.” Louis observed. the Bisto gravy family. watering cans. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. He glared at his feline acquaintance. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. Smelt of chewing tobacco. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. wide and handsome cognates. to Louis’s annoyance. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. “Wonder what’s eating them. the everenergetic Red Bull. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. edge trimmers. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. A pretty parish church. Swan matches and .. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. garden hoses. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. mounting up. it added. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. “Hmmph.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. with the Kid by his side. 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. wished them well in their quest for ACME.the Anchor butter cows. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. However. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. pruning shears. He had a peri-peri in every port. “What a guy. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. abandoning lawnmowers. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto.” Bella sighed.” Bella said wryly. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. Then. the Bull Durham bull. arhar. Ar-har. garden path. a time-worn market cross. Hamlet half a mile.
mine host. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. my good fellow. Clarence. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. granite inglenook. The leader. however. brass-banded pumps. or whatever it is they do down there. I’d recognise you anywhere. a firkin of gassy French lager. “And you. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. if there’s naught else on tap. Still nothing. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family.” she went on. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. old chap. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. “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. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. Nothing. quacked and chirruped incontinently. the consummate cuppa-maker.” the curmudgeon grunted. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. You look fantastic. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. They waited for a few minutes. Undaunted. that were a long time ago. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts.” she continued. a peppery little man with a self-important air. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers.” “Aye. wearing blue overalls. The usual array of barroom grotesques. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. slippers! – stood between them and the door. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. as sheepish grins started to appear. lass. lad. “We prefer to work with Clubs. a hogshead of mead. stepped forward. All were empty. simple Sydney smiled shyly. they followed him into the homely hostelry. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. “You’re Gordon. A line of local yokels. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. one with a sharp carving knife. was unsettlingly absent.” Bella said. Archie. Or best bitter. “We’ve b-b-been…” . “And you must be Maurice. By the time Bella and Louis caught up.” The tea folk tittered. The place was deserted. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. “You must be Gaffer. Or gassy lager. Penguins and Tetley go way back.” Bashful as ever. polished horse brasses. “are Sydney.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked.” she concluded triumphantly.
his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’.G. brand animals like us. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight.” Gaffer spat.” “Tannin poisoning. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business.” “That’s torn it. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders. Lever lover? Menacingly. Could put a word in for them.G. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right. lass. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. But. “Tbirds were P. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. “Tetley. Lyons. “don’t only make tea bags make tea.” . He met the T-birds once. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. along with Brooke Bond. A lot. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls.” Louis groaned. Because P.But he was cut off by Gaffer. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. then glared at his gang. “Assam.” he growled.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. The tea folk advanced. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. “We’ve been on holiday. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals. Tips is a Unilever brand. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. P. reminding them who’s boss. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. yes. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. I suspect.G. as did Gordon with his andiron. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. Sydney shuffled his feet. brandishing their blunt instruments.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. Assholes. Psychosis is not uncommon. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. Lipton. Clarence coughed gently into his hand.G.G.” Orlov whispered. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business.” Bella gulped audibly. Tips. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Tips people. Bushells. the T-birds. We liked the T-birds. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. ominously.
” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. unobtrusively. these were big trees. deciduous trees. I’m amazed they fell for it.” “No. unawares. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. like most FMCGs. “Now push off the pair of you. It tasted delicious too. no. she decided it would do for the night. Tea brands are identical nowadays.” Orlov snarled. Coffee culture’s king. “An old trick. “Look. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. Night was falling. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone. oak. “The reason you didn’t know about it.” Bella smiled modestly.” . They’ve reverted to commodities. lime. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. They’d have to stop soon. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. fighting on price. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. insidiously. After looking around and sniffing the air. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips.” Orlov interrupted. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. a copycat called Tim Tam. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. you two. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. The air was chilly. ferret. and arsehole begins with A.G. elm.” Louis didn’t mince his words. “It was nothing.” Louis finally said. A stroke of genius. Tea’s time is up. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. “It was brilliant. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. beech. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. you can bicker without me.” Bella had said. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. The glory days of P. poplar.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking.G. There’s nothing to choose between them. proper trees like hornbeam. heavy trees. walnut. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. Far from the madding firs. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. Defeated.” Bella said. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating. Tips. sycamore.” “Yes.
but it was pleasant all the same. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. Swiftly followed by another. the Trix rabbit. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. she surmised.” Louis laughed. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. rotten logs. And another. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. Before long.Chastened. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. Vauxhall’s. A figure was flitting through the trees. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix.” Orlov added. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. a fire was crackling in the glade and. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance.” With a sigh of contentment. looked over and waved affably. she was struck by the absence of bird song. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. for once. exhausted. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. the Schnuffel rabbit. On picking herself up for the fifth time. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. the Hartford elk. Crackle and Pop. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. wearing a skintight yellow dress.” Orlov said with atypical glee. the Glenfiddich stag. scrutinising the strangers. her parents. she offered a square to Louis. only to find herself drifting off. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. “Actually. Smiling. Immediately adjacent to the path.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. A singularly sultry rabbit. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. pipits. In a most unladylike manner. “there’s Snap. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. the Kirin dragon. They made good progress through the forest. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. flitting in. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. The next day saw an early start. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. Watching the frolicking creatures. Keebler’s elves also showed up. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. out and around the trees. Not this one.” “I’m just glad they let us go.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. with an irresistible . the Unibank unicorn. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. when something caught her eye. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. Louis was in his element. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. lay languidly beneath it. only to disappear when anyone came too close. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. “Look. the Nesquik bunny. before evaporating into the undergrowth. Scania’s and Saab’s. most likely. linnets and the like.
trying not to breathe.” “Yes. Louis. “Don’t fall for it. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. then a steady stream.” The lynx laughed in his face.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. polecat. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. “Something smells good around here. A second bear followed. “Quick. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. sniffed the air. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. “My. I’m doing him a favour. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. It’s a trick. they roused Louis who woke . “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. Get out of my way. all growling. However. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. as if to reset her audio receptors.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. Together. And then some. Quick. “Aeaea. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. and not a little need for nourishment. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. Rrrrrrrrrrr. Bella followed suit. However. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. This doesn’t look good. all hulking. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. A for Argonauts. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. I can see that. my. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. Bella. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. sotto voce. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. they don’t actually hibernate. peered around myopically. no. It paused for a second. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing.” Bella butted in. which was still rustling. the oldest trick in the book. Quick. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle.” she said. “No. “they’re solitary creatures too. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. Rrrrrrrr. she’s cursed.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. Dark Temptation.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. They hunched together biting their tongues. Well. mainly nocturnal. Bella bided her time. Bravely. then shuffled on.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. tongue hanging out. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. She’s Circe. then a fourth. A big brown bear lumbered past. since you ask.” In normal circumstances.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. Must hide. actually. sensing Bella’s unease. then a third.” Orlov hissed. Daddy’s coming baby. An unearthly hush descended. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish.” she smouldered. all ponderous. famously omnivorous creatures. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. clicked his foreclaws. “Arctophily. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. “Let me guess. Fancy a bite.
Cresta lemonade bear. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. Larynges lubricated. Biffo the bear. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944.” Hiding in the wounded tree.” Pooh simpered. Hamm’s beer bear. cans included. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. was filling up with bears.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Yogi bear.” Orlov murmured. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. fierce bears. the easyJet bear. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. as were Pudsey bear. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. Big bears. inevitably. Pipes were smoked. black bears. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. friendly bears. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. Bundaberg rum bear. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. a snivelling wimp at heart. peeping out a knothole. “They’ll be asleep before long. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. Bearzookas. “Told you so. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. He died with his Wellington boots on. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. the biggest jambearee. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. meanwhile. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. SuperTed was also in attendance. “We should be able to get away then. before a head shot finished him off. In fact. SuperTed. They didn’t get very far.with a blissful smile on his face. BearPG rifles. Smokey. firing indiscriminately. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. It must have been the biggest bear-fest. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. The massacre was relentless. The fat bastard. . This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. Carried back to the ice floe. small bears. brown bears. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around.” hers replied. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. the bears burst into song. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. “has left the building. Even Pudsey. Labatt’s blue bear. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. It was worse than bear baiting. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. Boo Boo bear. At least they seemed civilised about it. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. Charmin paper towels bear. the iconic US Forest Service bear. “Let’s get out of here. The dell. whose charitable work is second to none. Paddington was a sitting duck. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. Appallingly. Gulliver. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity.” his said. Paddington bear. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. the easyJet bear. George. Only Gulliver. begged on his knees for mercy. wasn’t spared by the assassins. “The bear. the Hofmeister bear.
Supported by Charmin and Cresta. A second troop of baby-faced. . They raised their weapons as one. he sealed the fate of his comrades. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell. In so doing.showed any sense of self-preservation. There was no sign of Winnie. The dirty deed was done. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees.
The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. listening intently for any indication of military activity. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. man” before breathing his last. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops.” They knew she was right. Heavy shadows fell across the path. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances.” Bella said. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. most with decades of distinguished service. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche.” “Explain. Cautiously. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. steadily. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. A chill was in the air. paw-prints. Very profitable business. you say?” “Yes. failing to focus on the salient facts. Frantically.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. the trio forged ahead. They kept going. stealthily. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. if only to work out what they were up against. you see. frozen in its death throes.” Louis groaned. the baby-faced ones. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. such was the bloodletting. jolted out of his rambling account. “Greeting cards. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. “I know who did this. . the better.” Louis wept. On returning to the path several hours later.” Louis answered dully. Suddenly. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. sensible as ever. Working together.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. It doesn’t bear thinking about. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends.” “Okay. But drew a blank. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. “There’s nothing we can do here.” Orlov ordered. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. “Greeting cards. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. We talked joint ventures with them all. tears streaming down his ashen face. Great mark-ups. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. A Lynx card range made sense.” Orlov said calmly. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. They pushed on slowly. Bloodstains. Night was falling. That’s the frightening thing. Hallmark’s main rival. Me-to-You they’re called. Led by Tatty Teddy.
familiars. But shelter found them. Never the best of hikers. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. bath salts and what have you. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. They struggled along. “I know what they are.” Louis said. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. they opted for the latter. I don’t like the look of them.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. “Potentially big market for personal care products. “I think I know what this place is.” Orlov answered with equanimity. Eyepet. Second Life players.” . never mind feline chat-up lines. 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. High on a crag. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. Bella was exhausted before long. They’re called Furries. deodorant.” Bella was incredulous. if anything – just that fetches. At night. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. It’s simples. The first brand character dates from 1877. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. They searched for shelter. Country Story.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. Orlov laughed.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. cold and cutting. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. Until the rain arrived. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. Pet Society. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. often in the prime of life. “That’s no phantasm. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. “Think about it. Surely some of them are still with us.” Louis said. according to recent news reports. They’re breakfast cereal characters. slipping and sliding and slithering. teeth chattering. They’re nothing to be afraid of. Invizimals. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. which stopped them in their tracks. no.” Louis said. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. The path soon turned into a slough. Most have been axed ruthlessly. sat a glowering gothic castle. they made reasonable progress. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. They’re avatars. with witching hour approaching. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No.” “Looks pretty scary to me. full and ominous. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. We have nothing to worry about.” he said. Thousands of critters have been created since. above the sodden forest floor. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing.
” Pooh wasn’t the problem. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. though. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. By then it was too late to retreat. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. mead and beeswax markets. nor were Piglet. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. however. Bizarrely. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. Be careful what you say. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. He looked enormously pleased with himself. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. Bagheera. spread out on a table before him. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. The latter included Dumbo. “Mummy. He must have betrayed his companions earlier.” it shrieked. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. lined with oil paintings. the portcullis rose.” Louis ventured.Orlov was not convinced. But not the once and future Honey Monster. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. much less amused. Mr Lynx. It’s Mummy. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey. Are you thinking of using her as bait for the undead cocoasucker? Or have you got a garlic-flavoured body spray that’ll give her some protection from the beast?” Drained.” the creature rasped. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. always on the creepy side of welcoming. wondering what he was waiting for. . Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. After licking his lips with relish. swords and stuffed animal heads. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. Tigger. “Mummy. Mummy”. His cavernous smile. “Tell them about the honey bunny. as the drawbridge fell. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. Bella was too tired to care. She had second thoughts. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. was positively cadaverous. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. “I’m waiting. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. lances. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. shields. The travellers looked at each other. We didn’t see anything. head tilted back. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. It’s Tell Them About the Honey.
” Bella gloomed. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears.” Bella was not amused.” Louis chipped in. so too slogans calm the savage brand. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry.” “We’re doomed. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest. “It’s simples. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. we’re history.” Orlov hissed. “All together now.Shaken to the core. he showed the threesome around his stately home. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. like himself. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. The next morning.” She looked at Orlov coldly.” “Keep your voices down. As every brand manager knows. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. pausing to point out the bee laboratory. Walls have ears. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. Apparently. So it proved on this occasion. Just as music calms the savage breast. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. Otherwise. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. after breakfast. it was the least he could do. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. He doesn’t know what we know. Doom was unaccountably delayed. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. As if by magic. mummy!” they shouted in unison. “Tell them about the honey. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. “Or he’ll overhear us. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. Let’s keep it that way. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. “There’s no honey in Penguins. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. psychological or otherwise. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. we’ll never get to ACME. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. as the reality of their situation hit home. hence the bee laboratories.” “Lucky for us. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter.” Orlov said.” she murmured.
“I thought honey was a natural laxative. “Not that kind of pooh. without smiling. . innocently.Character Mediation Enterprise. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting.” Orlov observed.” the Honey Monster said.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
dodging. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. where it charged between the trees. tree stumps. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. while straining on its leash. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. Peanuts. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. Luckily. stood before them wagging its tail. What there was. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. was pretty impressive. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. air-conditioned cabin. saplings. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. gratifying. They should buy us some time. “Don’t be afraid. long. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. glorious. circling steeply upwards. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. Increasingly alarmed. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. The growling stopped. railings. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. All of a sudden. sleek and in perfect physical condition.” Legend the unicorn announced. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. It was replaced by frantic barking. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. rivulets. strapped them in securely and. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. Bella. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. fences. There was no sign of Cerberus. though. golden. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk.” Orlov reassured his companions. raising its paws and barking excitedly. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. bounding over fallen logs. A perfect day was in prospect. the brand band exchanged wary glances. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. offering little by way of illumination. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. A gigantic silver Greyhound.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. giving way to the rich arable farmland . top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. leaping.
their mode of conveyance was. Sheryl Crow. Then we can foxtrot. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. Doves. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. before dashing off again in the direction it came.” Squelched.” Bella gasped. The line up included Gorillaz. FAO Schwarz. Wolfmother.” Bella noted. Pet Shop Boys. Danger Mouse. 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. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley).” Louis said casually. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. “Business first. Snoop Dogg. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. “Must be a homing greyhound. . “I thought they’d broken up. Bat for Lashes. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. Scorpions. pointing at the billboard. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. better yet. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. the Natural History Museum. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. rubbing salt into the wound. Orlov snorted. if not quite the bees’ knees. Market leader in Britain he may have been. “ACME is top of our agenda. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. Before long. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. Fleet Foxes. Central Park Zoo.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. Eventually. Whitesnake. Followed by Flat Eric. pleasure later. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. Noah and the Whale. An open air charity concert. Seven minutes later. Literally.” Orlov added. Grizzly Bear. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. the new Eagles. amongst many others. Louis sulked. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Glinting on the horizon. As ever. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. Mastodon.” “Maybe we should check it out. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. bunny hop. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Seal. Wild Beasts. infuriated by his insensitivity.
security guards. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. you never got as far as B. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. Squeeze This. as they advanced towards Timex Square. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. Horribly disfigured. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks.” . A chill wind whistled in from the east.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. Forty-second Street was equally empty. though. caught in the inter-building eddies. If we go. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. in as cutting a way as he could manage. Marketing gives it meaning. just like you said. animal brands especially. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. The human world is a horrible place. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. perhaps. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. they go. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. yelling at one another. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. “I think I know what’s happening here. But survivors all the same. was nowhere to be seen. squalid. 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. many of which strobed intermittently. “The real world is breaking through. as if a performance was about to begin. Mutant maybe. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. devoid of hope and authenticity. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. yakking. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. buskers.” “Why are there no humans. I’m sorry. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. while stuffing their faces with fast food. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. indicated that the place was operational. Surely everyone knows that. Oh.” Bella said. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. dirty. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. druggies.” he said. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. That’s what I think. panhandlers. shoving. “But surely. hookers. Aleksandr.
“Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. horse-mounted traffic cops. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. “Bloody Hellman’s. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. Then another. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. Another followed. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. off. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. the Dulux sheepdog. Led by Cheeka. 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. then get the Dell out of here. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail. it went on. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. spend.” Bella groaned. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. spend. off. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza.com critter. “Well. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. . Timex Square was an empty.” “Gotcha. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets.” Louis gasped. “Holy Doughboy. unwelcoming place. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. Luckily. 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. it added. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. Monkey from Sky TV. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. an irresistible urge to spend. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off. it stated.” Louis said. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders.” Orlov exclaimed. “Well. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”.” Orlov took off. lynx and meerkat in their midst. stunned by the update.
” Orlov was fit to be tied. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. “Let me handle this. “For your information. Orlov backed down. while they were in mortal danger. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. look left.” Infuriated. Having stared the meerkat out. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. look round again manner. “No signal. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. Louis looked down at him. flapping idly in the breeze. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. stand up.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. But Louis cut him off. followed by “Louis. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. “What’s the address? Quick. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. Even in Madhattan. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. 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. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. ready for fisticuffs. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. getting more infuriated by the second. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. “Wait for us. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. drop down. ferret. Smirking.” Impatient as always.” he said curtly.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. look right. We don’t have much time. Scampering ahead in his stop. I thought you’d been here before” strop. breathing heavily. Quick. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture.” . “Calm down. The fashion week tents were still standing. Louis turned to Bella. They stood snout to snout. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. no doubt. eyes locked. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up.” Louis snapped. Bella looked at Louis. The meerkat glared at them both. It was a brand free zone. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. Patrolling down 42nd Street. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. start. Growling.
It refers to the legendary adman John Webster. “Just get Google. Critters he called them. publicity. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. The stress of the quest. The Young and Rubicund building. Camel. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. 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. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . will you. “Look. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her.” The meerkat was off like a shot. She was sure of it. As included. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov.” He switched off his iPaw. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. Rrrrrrrrr. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. innovation follows. It was her imagination. Panther. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. “World Wide Webster. Racoon. the brains behind the Smash Martians.” Bella had no time for legends. “designed to justify cost cutting. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. originality disappears.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. research. Once production goes. believe me. did you?” Bella shouted. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. Adidas. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged.” Bella moaned. Louis held her back. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. Monkey. He’d clicked through from Google Street View.” “Read that in Wikipedia. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx.” Louis sighed. He’s barking up the wrong office block. design. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger.” “What?” Bella retorted. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. Nothing. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. distracted by something in her peripheral vision.” The connection took forever. “It doesn’t say. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. not to say incredulity. down-sizing. Bella made to follow. feeling edgier by the second. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. He was a Panther man himself. “Let him go. creativity evaporates. “It’s number 285. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. in a downtown direction. “I don’t believe it. officiating bodies like ACME.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. Something or someone was watching them. The building was just a couple of blocks away.
A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. “Yes. hot. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. Startled. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. no winners or losers. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. Bella refused to take the bet. Chuckling. The curt note on the door. A conspiracy theory. A couple of minutes later. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters.” Louis said laconically. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. only with account managers and art directors. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. Fearing another tantrum. With a heave. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. reason-why. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. a strop and sulk situation. The big city was distorting his thinking. bothered. It too was devoid of life. extremely agitated. Aleksandr. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. as did his equally dumbfounded . They passed a Starbucks.” Louis yawned.” Louis let her vent. He had a theory. Yes. Orlov missed the sarcasm. “We know. There was no brand war. all disconcertingly empty.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. the Russian emerged from the elevator. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. Exactly. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. The wreckage all around. jingles. a bit like The Sopranos. The vacated Y&R floors. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. Nodding enthusiastically. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. brand mascots. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. The whole place was completely empty. though that may have been the art directors’ department. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. They especially hate cute critters. they strolled down to 285. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. Hard sellers hate whimsy.us the journey. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory.” “Oh. advertising characters. isabellines especially. let alone embarrassed. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. The locked ACME offices. subtlety. stiff and straining in the breeze. their Old Glories unfurled. he looked around.” Far from being crestfallen. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. mouth agape. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. “Corleone the copywriter. arm in arm. Although they look laid back.
Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. like a fire tender on emergency call. A crack appeared in the pane. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. the latter sprinting on all fours. however. They spilled into the street. then charged at the barrier together. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. An earsplitting alarm went off. thump. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. Nada. the former sliding on the marble. jumping to his feet. Arms outstretched. There was no time to lose. thump.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. It was locked. They picked themselves up. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie.” Bella urged. round. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. thump. “Lucky I checked out the building.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. It suddenly shattered. Then a fourth.companions. “lock the revolving door. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. Caught betwixt and between. then another. Its catatonic associates followed suit. 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. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. . scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. out. Almost. Louis lost the head. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. thump. the three of them backed up several paces. He pushed again. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds.” Louis yelled. then another. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. thump. thump. the zombie was momentarily confused. Frantic. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. Thump. “Quick. The door burst open. Then a third. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. Nothing. and pushed on the side door. Without pausing to dust themselves down. Bella and Louis did likewise.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder.” he added. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. Glancing round as he ran. The alarm alerted the undead. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. Thump. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Eyes glassy and unseeing. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems.
But the quarry was too quick for them. where they paused to catch their collective breath. “Let’s stand and fight. With no realistic alternative. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. They’re wusses. “No. “I think there’s a food court in that place. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. This way. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. “We’re trapped. 40th .” Bella said. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. No surrender. They’re softies. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown. They’re milkshakes. with an unrepeatable oath. no. in the direction of Brand Central Station.” He galloped up Park Avenue. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. This way. Bella.” Orlov said to himself.
” he conceded.” Orlov said.” Louis continued. “How can you be so sure?” . But my sprinting’s not so good. 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. “I can swim for hours.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. you know. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line. right Louis?” “Right. by way of explanation. winking at the other half of his double act. looking anxiously behind them. Rrrrrrrr. “Yes.” The meerkat cracked up. albeit with difficulty.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. “I think we’ve lost them. No bother. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. “A good brand is hard to find. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. “Stitch.” Suppressing a smile. Giggling. Sniggering to start. But none of them are McDonald’s.000 passengers per day. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota. which ordinarily copes with 150. grinning.” Orlov said. face contorted in agony. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains.” he commiserated. holding her side. “Lynxes excepted. the lynx tried to sympathise. “I’m starving after all that exercise. As Bella. “Okay guys.” she added. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. “Don’t bet on it. “Never meet your heroes. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. “That’s where Flat Eric lives.” Orlov empathised.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. gasping for breath. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors.” Bella deadpanned. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza.” Louis laughed.” Unabashed. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls. Too worked up to worry. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. “But downtown’s not a good move. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald.” Bella panted. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. “Different muscle groups. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump.” “Yes.” Wiping her eyes. He won’t be there anyway. those McTofus are really something. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days.
” . decisions. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. We need to make our way to JWT Airport. she shook her still-slumbering companions.” The meerkat hesitated. “ACME’s our priority. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. ACME.” Louis sighed. “I’m heading for SoHo. Things’ll be clearer then. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. though. The place felt like an oven. Settled in their seats. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. We should be safe there. Have you?” The decision. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. “We’ve had a very trying day. Aleksandr. Inside a greenhouse. “All of which are moot. Inside a smelting plant. ACME. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. just as the doors were closing.” “Decisions. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. Bella’s obsession with ACME. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. the one that does international flights. He looked around in that ever-wary way. was made for them. decisions. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. “If that’s where we decide to go. Louis?” “It’s getting late. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. “Coming with me.” Understandably perhaps. Bella awoke with a start. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. swivelling his head this way and that. Boiling sun. Hot sun. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts.” Bella said. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. Then Orlov followed suit. trying to make the peace. And tasted like it too.” She looked from one drained friend to the other. because there’s no public transportation. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. It’s well uptown.” the lynx said. exhaustion soon caught up with them. If not quite melting.” he said. as they tried to get their bearings. the moment of light relief forgotten.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. 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. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. as it happened. peeping outside. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station.” Louis croaked. “We must have missed our stop. It’s relocated to India. On Mercury. “Looks like Coney Island. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. as he pressed his face against the window. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and.
situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. it said. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. ghost trains and roller coasters. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. an imposter. far away. Self-respect be damned. was a poseur. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. and how Mr Peanut. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. like eco- . Bertie Bassett. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. Far Away. be gone. boys. Bella stood in the doorway. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. Many were of the dung beetle ilk.” Orlov rasped.” Bella struggled to speak. We’ll be safe among the carousels. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. Gathering their wits. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage.” Orlov remarked. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. held court behind the bar. most of which were counterfeit. The heat was fearsome. Welcome to Mirage. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. in short. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. flat-roofed and ogee arched. as best they could. Much as he loved dry heat. when brand icons were dapper men about town. The Birds Custard bluebird. It was hotter outside than in. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. Except that they weren’t flies. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda. Gasping for a drink. piled upon dune. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them.” Too parched to say anything. Mine host. a fraud. top-hatted. beckoned from the other. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters.“Not a problem. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. not only looked inviting. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. Botanic Gardens too. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. Mercifully. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. Grill and Waterhole. Onlookers. the monocled. dune piled upon dune. The barflies hung on his every word. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. Bella wished she was far. twisting and turning. Whatever their phylum. The door hissed open. Unselfconsciously.
Smirking. The Animals. No sign of Owl City. Orlov persisted. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. Famous Grouse. the lusty lummox. Lapsed. spokescreatures sold into bondage. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff.” “It’s mambo. for eucalyptus.” Undeterred. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. the audience roared. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. Unconcerned. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. We’ve got to get out of here. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. History. Adam and the Ants. consisting of Wild Turkey. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”.” “Right. The Monkees. the proper name for the peanut family. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. never mind “Fireflies”. Meerkat mambo.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. All axed by their advertising agencies. The Beatles. nor did he want to know right now. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. Brusquely. Louis. Louis was collared by the meerkat. Panicking. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. followed by “Wild Thing”. Horse Feathers. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. “Hound Dog”.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. “This is the last brand saloon. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. let alone an LAX. a sure-fire floor filler.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. Dropped. just as the stork’s set was finishing. Grey Goose. he didn’t give a 4X. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. A hen party. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. Monkey Business and more. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. We’re in Brandablanca. much to his annoyance. “Chicken feed. Louis didn’t . he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. was in seventh heaven. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. A poultry matter. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. Bella and Louis supped up. The lynx hadn’t. spokespenguins held to ransom. Orlov didn’t join in. Howlin Wolf. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. Buddy Holly and the Crickets.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. Meanwhile. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. No matter. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts.
They thought we were brand bounty hunters. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries.” “Don’t tell me. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books. He made his way to the restrooms. then. He slipped into the backstage area. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. though never rising above ill-at-ease. Orlov gave up on the lynx. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.” “I’m afraid it is our problem.” “Let’s get going. He’s on his death bed. I need something to calm me down. “Okay. Bella was outside. having a cigarette.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. deep in thought. either. They’re in transit. then. standing in the shade. No sign of her there.” Bella nodded.” “Exactly. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. However. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. trying to hide his relief.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. a Happy Meal. trying to get to Hamlet. Releasing his grip. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling.want to know. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country.” “Excellent. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies.” she said. apparently. It wasn’t so funny the second time. There was no sign of Bella.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. “What’s up.” .” the abstemious meerkat said. the CEO is.” “I don’t. “I didn’t know you smoked. doc?” Bella forced a smile.
Part V Just Deserts .
Louis wasn’t in the same league.” Bella asked anxiously. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. sweetmeats. Ali Brioni. They explained the situation to him. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. was also quite striking. Ali Boden. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. A mere man. Mustapha cut his prices even more. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. He introduced himself as Mustapha. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. Irate. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. He Dead Decision made. shouting over the music. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . Unconcerned. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. despite her desire to depart. He didn’t want to know. Ali Bally. awimoway. awimoway. more emphatically than before. The lynx didn’t care. Ali Bottega Veneta. Pelican and Penguin. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger.” Bella promised. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. laying out his wares as he talked. carpets. a stylised scarab in a circle. spices. “Do you think he’ll be all right. As a feline of sorts.” Bella wasn’t reassured. The meerkat was much less impressed. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. “I’ll be back. His logo. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. They shoved him aside. Louis was on the dancefloor. fashion designer to the stars. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. Ali Balenciaga. Orlov made for the door.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. Ali Burberry. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. He still didn’t want to know. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. carvings. Reluctantly. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. Talking all the while. They explained the situation to him again. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. Awimoway. he refused to let go. So they left him to it. “He’ll be there when we get back. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Bella was impressed. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. Mustapha immediately cut his prices.” Orlov answered. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. they returned to the bar. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. He paused to get his bearings.
merchants. eyelids narrowed.” Bella said beneath her breath. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. But business was business. Orlov didn’t. blowing smoke rings.” He plunged back into the casbah and. Still no sign of a subway. they’re hot. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. Joe was undeniably cool. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. Smokin Joe told him not to worry.” he decided. The shit of the desert set off. a disgrace. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. good-for-nothing. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. after much pushing and shoving. They were worrying animal omens. Brands come. populated by belching braying camels. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. The old lungs weren’t what they were. good fun.” Orlov apologised. brands go. Careless squawk costs lives. they’re a delight. Orlov accepted. Instead. looking down on all he surveyed. Unwisely. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. A dung beetle barred their way. Eventually. plus provisions for their journey. Bella decided. he explained with a bronchial cough. “This way. Bella waved back. head aloft. “Whoops. nostrils flared. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. they’re not. detached. Mr Midden said that was a very. He looked supercool too – haughty. Must be the other way. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. emerged on the other side. grumbling and griping all the while. dragging deeply. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. She told the beetle of their intentions. Harrier jets. indifferent to everyone around him. stood between them and the same sand sea. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. . Puma helicopters. Only a palm-fringed oasis. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. Even in the searing heat of the desert. as a peacemaker. past thorn-bush. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. 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. “sorry about that. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. This way was the wrong way. Orlov offered him a Lark. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. very. Joe called a halt. down dune. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. through tamarisk thickets. up dune. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. Way too hot to argue. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. very bad idea. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. hoping to bond with the brute. Scorpion armoured vehicles. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. He offered one to Orlov. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. It was Joe Camel himself. “So much for kat-nav. Breath like a brazier. There was no sign of the subway station.
“I can carry you the rest of the way. Customers are fickle. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. She waddled up the wadi. “Looks innocent enough. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. undecided. Rumours. she twisted her ankle on a boulder.” “That’s true. The Maytag repair man. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. Whatever. or something similar. It was all too much. “Take care of Louis for me. Amazed. dead best friend. Aleksandr. Bella.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. a tropical island in a sea of sand.” she shouted over her shoulder. . Bella nodded appreciatively. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. I’m an icon. Supporting each other. Aleksandr. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. Mr Kipling was near now. Stay true to yourself. Fashion changes. smiling. tennis courts. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. Don’t lose hope. Sobbing uncontrollably. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. style’s forever. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. Don’t pander.bad influence. dead daddy. Momentarily inattentive. I’m going to see it through. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. having finally found gainful employment. “Your funeral. Five minutes later. Sorry. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. You can go back if you want to. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. a benison. they clambered up the dusty gulch.” “Ciao.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. “What rumours?” The camel explained.” Orlov murmured. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. “I’ve come this far. You know how it is. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. after all. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. to put it mildly. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. “It’s just over that rise. which rolled back down the ravine. causing a mini landslide.” He indicated with his hoof. It was a refuge. She could taste him. she wept for her dead mummy.” Bella replied brusquely. having decided what to do. if you want. Bella hobbled on. his sang-froid abandoned. bad as in good. I’ve heard things. earnestly. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. speaking slowly. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. “…brand characters talk. Joe shrugged. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. who once bestrode BrandLand. This is as far as I go.
It was filled with immortal brand icons. Woof. Aunt Jemima. Bow-wow. Bow-wow. regretfully. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. the coffee shops. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains.” . Grrrr. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. Frankie and Louie. Howard Brown. look. woof. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. smiling benignly. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. Ruff. as orange as ever. woof. Betty herself had seen better days. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. “Would you like to look around?” she said.“Welcome to paradise. They peeked into the communal sitting room. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. Crazy Eddie. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. “Look. the golf course. However. sitting in a circle of silence. taking in the gymnasium. thick carpets. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. Clippit. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. “I think you’ll be impressed. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. But she was friendly enough. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. Nipper responded eagerly. the convenience stores and the community centre. increasing market share. The mute mutt kept mum. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000.” Without further ado.” Orlov replied. their raping. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. who’d seen better days. as they were ushered into her office. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. the Tango man. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. Joe Isuzu. the Coppertone girl. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. Frito Bandito. “What’s he saying?” Bella said.R. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. assorted Scottish Widows.” Orlov cried. Beattie and Buzby. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. Orlov tried to get through to it. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them.” Betty said. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. Yap. the arts and crafts studios. woof. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. explaining the rationale for their operation. On a whim. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. the forgotten British Telecom titans. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. Hartley. plump cushions. rising from her sofa. “Woof. Nicole and Papa.
. They’d walked into a trap.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. Kipling’s a come-on. Right now.cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Smiling benevolently. . Thinking quickly.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. Get out. He’s not here. Never was. Crocker’s a…c. Their accommodation was waiting for them. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. They were there for the duration. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere.
Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure.” The pain was excruciating. though he wasn’t as young as he was. Then things got a bit hazy. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. followed by “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” followed by…Louis felt a wave of shame wash over his shattered body…”Three Little Fishies”. Louis had never had a hangover like it. mercilessly. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. well. Louis sat up with a start. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. Better not. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. With a sudden shudder of horror. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. feeling queasy. . Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. He was lying on a small camp bed. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. It was the least the bar owner could do. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. followed by “Chirpy. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. which tightened inexorably. the mortification or the migraine. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. “Noooooooooo. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. He looked around. Can’t be too careful. Lynxes were lithe. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. Red Robin”. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. Dawn would be up and about before long. Groaning. frankly. “don’t move”. However.” The agony was unrelenting. Head splitting. as are bladders full to bursting. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. He was in a storeroom of some kind.” The torture wouldn’t stop. but there was a limit. “Oooooohhhhh. though they only had to ask. Cheep”. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. Chirpy. He flopped back down again. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. given the free floorshow Louis provided. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. the lynx tried to get his bearings. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. youza. youza. he remembered several more moments of madness. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. Cheep. “lie still”.
” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. “Christ. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. liquorice-like. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. He paused. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. He unlocked the door. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. Presumably. albeit not on account of the nausea. kicking the door and shaking the bars.” There was movement. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. “Avoid the Noid. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. Louis angled his face on the bars.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . eyes fixed on the smart phone. sugary. before disappearing through a swinging access door. “I’m talking to you. Suddenly. Apart from the sacks of snacks. He reached for his iPaw. grabbing hold with both hands. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. dying for a drink. If not Bertie himself. A call to prayer was imminent. hoping to attract someone’s attention. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. which flapped to and fro in his wake. Livid. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. briskly. Ooohhh yeaaah. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. Anxiety mounting. He squeezed his face against the bars and. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. Louis’s iPaw. He sniffed. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. then tried again. He shouted for assistance. waited for the palpitations to pass. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. you son of a bitch. holding it in. It was sweet.” he shouted. Louis looked up. trying to place the aroma. Only the minarets showed signs of life. peered through the iron bars. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. Louis played it cool. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. He banged on the door. Mr Bassett. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. “I’ve been expecting you. And a figure sitting silently at the end. the shakes. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. His red-suited. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. Louis needed all the help he could get. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. There was no sign of a cell phone.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. Sobriety took hold. shoved it open with difficulty. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. His iPaw was missing. head thumping. “I’m talking to you. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. with a view to ringing the bar. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. rabbiteared guard remained silent. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window.” he called out. fiddling with an iPaw.
hangover overcome by willpower alone. not even “My name is Bassett. continuing to play it cool.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. some parts of them come back. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel.” “I’m not with you. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. he realised that something wasn’t right. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. Have you forgotten your training. He kept his cool instead.” There was no time to lose. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap.” he said. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products. in response to the ridiculous death threat. “Your days are numbered. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. Mr Lynx. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. rising energetically from his camp bed. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Nonchalant yet nasty.” he said.” “That’s what we want them to believe.” . an escape route for persecuted brands. Bertie Bassett”. should I say. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. buy-or-die issues. “Maybe. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. Bassett or no Bassett. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. They never come back. And today’s the day when your number’s up. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business.” he said. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. Louis refused to be drawn.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. Mr Lynx. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. Instead. “They come from that. Here’s lookin’ at you. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic.” Louis countered. “That’s a bit melodramatic. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. nodding toward the barrels once more. the liquorice magnate said nothing. round up the usual suspects.” “I see.” Bassett smiled. He had to get moving right away. kid. Well. some of them come back or. and suchlike. Unilever boy?” He stood up. “But why. We make dramas out of crises. Bertie.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. “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. It might already be too late. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril.
. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. He should have known better than to tempt fate. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. Anything to make the memory go away. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. However. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. Although he was still alive.Ordinarily. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather. He soon would. he sensed that Bassett was serious.
She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. Tom Tomato. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. There was no perimeter fence. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. But. were a bit like piggy banks. Every brand icon. the fearsome Fruit of the Loom bunch – who sprouted up with a snarl and a submachine gun when anyone made a bid for freedom or approached the outer edge of the greensward. Bella could understand why any brand icon. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. no matter how venerable. clearly. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. The food. No soft soap. like Mr Kipling. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. its equity was still there. never mind a sickening stench. Brands. with watchtowers and guards. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. No hard sell. She was very tempted. neither electrified nor chain link. That investment kept on growing and growing and. Bella well knew. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. There was no unscalable wall. as Nipper made clear. The recreational facilities were wonderful. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. part of the brand trafficking operation. The accommodation was superb. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. No hassle. Mr Soybean. Bella could see the attraction of the place. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. no matter how outmoded. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. The forbidden fruit trick.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. No hustle. much less the physiology. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. something strange was going on. Bella was kicking herself. Crocker’s camp. as per ACME’s edict. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. As a consequence. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. was a crock of marketplace gold. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast.
no less. “Definitely acrylic. Even Bella could smell it. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. footloose and fancy free. a penguinoramus. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. only smarter.” he added. Orlov was doubled over. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. He didn’t look up to the challenge. “Burning acrylic. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. Orlov looked up. for one – but this was ridiculous. That’s where it’s coming from. Bella was beyond belief. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family.the perimeter. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. then took in the nine-hole golf course. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. The stench was stronger now. It was worse than she thought. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. only with incense that’s gone off. The aroma. was somewhere between niffy and noisome.” she said. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. struggling to his feet. “Look. “It’s a bit like a civet. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. Some chance.” Orlov gasped. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. “Orlov insisted. He coughed. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. minging and malodorous. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. It worked. She was a penguin ignoramus. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. “Maybe it was something you ate. retching in a revolting manner. there’s a plume of smoke over there. Still. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. “Acrylic. “I still can’t smell anything. Undeterred. She declined. their . they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. There was no escape. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. behind a dense stand of leylandii. patting him on the back. He spluttered. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. Not wanting to attract undue attention. low-rise glass building. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. He offered her one. Doubtless Tiger. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. Hundreds of sports team mascots. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. just to see the look on his face. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. Orlov thought for a second.” Bella said. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside.” he said. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. Bella told him so.” She let him splutter.
In the annals of advertising slogans. As a Russian. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. was extinct. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. “They certainly kept that quiet. they’re cuddly toys. And won the election by a landslide.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. quotas. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. a brand abattoir.” At a loss. Bella. Stamford the Lion. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. It was about to launch into . Bella held a candle for H’Angus. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. Desperate times require desperate measures. Beanie Babies had been and gone. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. sadly. 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. It was Pegasus. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. which fell away when full. Gruesome as the big screen was. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. The guard was no ordinary guard. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. nothing less than the furry solution. pampered. targets similar work schedule metrics. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. There was only one problem.” Orlov said. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. The guard. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. As a democrat. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. Portsmouth’s Frogmore. the purple dinosaur. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. Norwich’s Captain Canary.” Bella whispered. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. It was apocaplush. From its perch above the production line. Aberdeen’s Angus. Samson and Delilah. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. Barney. as had Go-Go Hamsters. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. the questers considered their options. Peppa the Pig was no more.” “Yes. let alone A Bug’s Life. Burnley’s Bertie Bee.” Raging. Appalled. He Gives a Monkey’s. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen.
” Pegasus whinnied. “you shouldn’t be here”. the rest soon follow. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. If so. preparing to shift from hover to swoop.” Bella acknowledged. She says you’re a sell out. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. Orlov. Oh. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. 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. A god’s gotta graft. I’m not proud.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. I dropped Bellerophon in it. I’m the offspring of Medusa.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. remember. Pegasus looked unimpressed. as you can see. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. We’ve still got a wish in hand. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. “Is that so?” “Yes.” “Yes. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. I’m not choosy. Bella.” . Whatever. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. Call her. and don’t look so surprised. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. However. Once one sponsor departs. Orlov cut the creature off. BTW. “The Roc sends her regards. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. Bella seized her chance.” “Your wish is my command. there’s only two of us. She’s full of it you know. It’s the way of the world. that its father.an “how dare you”. “I’m calling security” spiel. she does. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. She says you’re dead horsemeat. Orlov. Poseidon. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. in case you’d forgotten. “However. Just ask Tiger. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
Bleary-eyed. turning defence into attack. Naturally. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. mean and muscular. Shaven-headed. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. no one could hear brands scream. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. You may also have heard that we get what we want. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. “Let me guess. At one stage. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. The other was lean. A camel was outside. by fair means or foul. And squeezed. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. They were going to pull the bars out. a celebrity camel. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. I’m hoping it will . Bella sent them. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). Mr Clean. The cry caught in his throat. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle.” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. He could hear the door opening. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. You may have heard of us. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. P&G shakedown. They had a rope.” Louis snarled. the chatterbox beetle explained. “I’m Julius Pringles. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. Intrigued. In Cin City. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. “This is my esteemed colleague. preparing to call for assistance.” he said. allegedly. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. he glanced up at the Proctoids. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. Get ready to run for it. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. he was distracted by a cough. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. he picked himself up. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth.
both literally and metaphorically. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall. Ping. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. Pantene Pro-V enriched. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. Ping. Without pausing for breath. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. a bucket. With a bestial bellow. Louis?” Playing for time. “You know I can’t tell you that. Under normal circumstances. “And grease in just a minute. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. Julius. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. It was P&G water. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. asswipe. come to think of it. Not so surprising. This was no ordinary water. Veritably. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. Instinctively. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. With enormous effort. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. Is that what you’re saying. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. Stoically. “Take it easy. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. the one that controls cross-dressing. Clearly. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand . Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. “Let’s find out what he knows first. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. However. Mr Clean will clean your house. a board.” the lynx sang tunelessly.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. Sorry. The persecutor paused. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in.be fair.” Pringles ordered. especially for a brand with a raging hangover.” Clean went crazy. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. Surprisingly feminine forename. One-handedly. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. began dragging him out of the cell. the pain would have been intolerable. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. with a butt-ripping jerk. moreover. It contained a chair. Ping. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. Ping. past the Noid who’d nodded off. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth.
His training kicked in. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. He had overlooked one crucially important item.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. Mostly. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. “Tell us what we want to know. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner.” “Glad to hear it. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. Make it easy on yourself. though. Quickly and efficiently. The one without the battery. “Recognise this?” he raged. Louis. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself.” “Correct. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture.secrets. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. especially for so little reward.” Admirable though it was. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. he tied Louis down.” Muscles bulging. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. eyes glinting. Strangely. They’re about to abandon your brand name. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. But he had miscalculated.” the crazed Proctoid crowed.” he spluttered. Rrrrrrr. Masochistically shaving against the grain. Howling with fury. “Nice lather. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. “I could do with a shave. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. which creaked and groaned from want of use.” Clean crowed. It’s common knowledge.” Louis retorted. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line. You don’t owe Unilever anything. “Five precision blades. he asked Louis to reconsider. Even at wholesale prices. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. It’s the best a brand can get. though. Wouldn’t they? . No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. fraught though they had been. it was costing him a small fortune. The ladies like it that way. Cursing and swearing. Yes. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. pate glistening.
then turned to go. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do.” .” Louis tried to resist. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt. “Kill him. “You learn something new every day. I never knew that. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible.” Pringles said.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. But securely bound and helplessly splayed.Clean was getting nowhere fast. “It doubles as a tickling stick. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. By blindly following Gladwell. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. they tell me. It was time for a change in tactics. “Well. gibbering wreck in no time. the American management guru.” Pringles suggested. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. Are you ticklish.” “Cool. “We blindsided you with that one.” Louis gasped. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. “Try the swiffer. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. he was a giggling. Cats love a tickle. Clean. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. though. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. electrostatically. He really did. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles.” Pringles said.
” Unconvinced. Not long after liftoff. Third. Pegasus was basically kind. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. bluffed the brusque beast and. They were part of the plot against the plot.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. make the sale. keep body and soul together. He was capitalism in microcosm. keen to do good. cut corners. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. That little brand of yours has potential. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. as gods go. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. “But see your vet anyway. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. Far from leading Louis to his doom. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest.” Orlov lied authoritatively. They had raised the stakes. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. Reluctantly. The reason rather was that. Qualitywise. Your prices are competitive. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. First. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. release the furry football prisoners. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. Second. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. “It’s nothing. ethical. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. He couldn’t help it. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. which was worrying for a working dromedary. They weren’t part of the plot.” . We can talk to ACME. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. just perfect for recessionary times. but wish three was unnecessary. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. He was on a rescue mission. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised.” “What about you. 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. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. when the chips were down. move the merchandise. He owed them three wishes. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian.
Evidently. But dung beetles are persona non grata. Although Bella didn’t like heights. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. half as old as time. There’s Caterpillar. “The objective you seek is upstream. A vast river. The beetle had a business to run. closely-packed settlements.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. laid into the winged god. As far as most people are concerned. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation.” He circled and banked and glided. there might be one or two. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. Pegasus didn’t pause. Nobody loves us. A flurry of feathery flutters later. “What’s this?” Bella asked. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. I’m in the dingleberry business. dotted with iridescent oases. herds of wild horses. the brand band agreed. “Okay. Flashes of lightning. okay. with a slight cough of embarrassment. With no realistic alternative. Forthright as ever. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. And. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. Decrepit. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. It was forbidding. There’s the Raid Bugs. “Hold tight. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. they came to rest beside a small jetty. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape.com basin. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. “specially designed for young children. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs.” There was no persuading him.” the flying horse finally announced. though. one step above slugs and snails. “This is as far as I go. Not as beautiful as the jungle. rolled before them. the threesome took off. but no further. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. That vessel will take you there. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. snaking camel trains. he’d learned something from the Roc. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well.“I’m a dung beetle. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. How dare he drop them . Bella. sludgy and sluggish. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. He’d take them as far as he could.” Pegasus snorted. as brand names go. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. “we’re coming in to land.” Louis chipped in. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. soaring up and away. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. Pegasus was getting frisky too.” Orlov added. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. yet beautiful.
” he corrected. landlubbers. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. P-P-P-Penguin. “Welcome to the jungle. X-tra strong mints. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. modestly.” “Captain Birdseye. “I’m called Iglo in France. You know how it is. “I guess we better get going then. up and away. Calvin Klein. “Compare the market. with its connotations of edginess. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. “The B-sound’s effective too.” Orlov contributed. “Betty Crocker. 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. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye.” They didn’t know how it was. Coca-Cola. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. apparently. snapped open its wings. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. I presume. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Krispy Kreme.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. plosives.” a cordial voice chortled. “I can see into the future. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. The old salt nodded sagely. “I intend to. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. “Have a nice day. aka Iglo.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. It’s the k-sound. Hence Kodak. open-faced figure.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. Welcome on board. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. K-X soda. Earnestly. brothers and sister.” Feeling a little left out. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. Campbell’s Soup. I don’t particularly mind. you see. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. aspirates. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. “Captain Iglo.” Louis said nothing. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. You don’t belong in BrandLand. You’re no loss. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. KFC. There wasn’t much to see: a . X-Box. You’re a joke. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. sibilants. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round.” With that.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. They use my proper name in Britain. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. Kit-Kat. “Yes. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. energy: X-Factor. X-series sports cars.” “Correct. A grey-bearded. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. 4X beer.” Bella ventured. excitement.” the captain conceded. Birdseye showed them around. but as long as they keep the Captain part. A flash in the pan website. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago.
” “I wasn’t going to ask. lost in their own thoughts. Diet’s the least turbulent. “So. And was wearing it under his uniform. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. Just. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. Progress was slow. every air miles offer. Captain. not to say faintly ludicrous. “I’ll take your word for it. As shipshape as they’d ever be. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. He’d been there.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. It’s pretty inhospitable country. done that.” she said. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans.” “I think it’s exhaustion. “Taste it.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged. bought the T-shirt. The jetty was soon behind them and. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. every free gift scheme. a gimcrack forecastle. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance.compact cabin. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. Every sales promotion. Captain Birdseye cast off. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. as if unconvinced by her reply. by others. every lucky winner draw. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. We’ve been on a long journey. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away.” Birdseye replied.” “Right. Diet. it’s called by some. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. “Before you ask. steering a route of least resistance. Classic and Zero. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. “The Cokenoco. every loyalty .” He nodded. After the requisite toot of the whistle. Sceptical yet intrigued. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. “The ACME Horde. it shouldered its way upstream. Bella. “There are three tributaries. albeit steady as she goes.” He handed her an old pewter cup. With a barf and a bellow. However. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. it was a plausible brand yarn and. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander.” Eyes twinkling. stained with jolly jack tar. I know treasure seekers when I see them. The Trove of Death.
scratch card. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. win a car. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. complete the sentence. privilege card redeemable premium. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality.” . win a holiday. In return for a fee. who sells it on. that is. win a million.card. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings. win a house. every collect the tokens. reward or guarantee. According to old wives’ tales. every money off voucher. And it’s buried in them thar hills.
Burning Bright The jungle closed in. Screeches. slogans. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. guys. as Bella.” the old boatman added. straplines. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. “Must be a nightmare after a storm. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and.G. “Intuition. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. A trail of hoof. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. “The horror. the Exxon tiger.” Grinning despite herself. The horror.” “It’s okay. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. Niacin.Chapter Eighteen Tony. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. yammering at top speed. “No added sugar.” the lynx intervened.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. “Instinct?” Bella asked. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly.” “I’ll say. “I got it covered. 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. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. Tony. if a trifle slippery. Louis and Orlov disembarked. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all.” she observed. However. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. they forged forcefully ahead. “I’ll wait for you. The noise was deafening. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. “You can’t miss it. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. catchphrases and suchlike. “It’s that way. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. Guinness is good for you”. Her companions didn’t disagree. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way.” Orlov winked at Bella. or had been fairly recently. It’s big in Brazil.” Orlov murmured. The throbbing ceased. Every so often. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch.” he said. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. The path was narrow but passable. to everyone’s relief. It was humid. She didn’t want to know. Guinness is good for you. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. It was hot. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. as the going got increasingly rutted. Riboflavin. Tips. the MGM lion. . screaming the praises of P.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus.” it parroted. It’s one of our special editions. in a foot race. “Calcium. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims.
big brand in west Africa. decidedly unpleasant. though they weren’t the centre of attention. With a blood-curdling yell. This was no ordinary ceremony. If ACME’s behind this. many miles. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. The clammy heat was. Boom-boom. it didn’t last long. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. “Let’s just watch and wait. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. Boom. Unfortunately. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. “Advent.listening intently from time to time. Boom. Boom. A second drummer joined in. a big. Boom. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. The drumming stopped.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. Boom. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. dump bins. Emboldened. shelf-talkers. The crowd held its breath. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. Chuckling. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. the high priest of high fashion. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. posters. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. Orlov and Louis looked worried. must have carried for many. as the ceremony proper commenced. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. terrifying as its hooded features appeared.” Louis was less than impressed. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. A great shout of glee rose up . an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. Suddenly. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. Boom-boom. easing a succulent aside. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. coupons. Boom. “Ssssssshhhhhh. cut cases. they inched forward and.” “Ssssshhhhh. then a third. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. as well they might. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. Fast as the cobra was. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. minus the vocal accompaniment. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl.” Orlov whispered.” Bella hissed. 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. if not quite unbearable. Boom-boom. Bella burst out laughing. brandishing a burning brand. however.
Peanut paused. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. Which of course it did. Then another brand character contest kicked off. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. with fighting as part of the fun. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. Clearly. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. meanwhile. Luckily. She started peeling off her skin. because a lot of money had been lost. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. The response was lukewarm. the cruiserweight climax of the card. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. Bella concluded that Louis was right. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. Aghast at the brand butchery. however. the main event. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. The first combatant strode in imperiously. Howling with bestial abandon. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. with a sickening sound of escaping gas.from one group of onlookers. belly dancing. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. In his top hat and monocle. His followers showered him with confetti- . Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. she started dancing. Transfixed. as a groan escaped from the majority. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. Mr Peanut. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. she encouraged the crowd to join in. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. This also ended on a disappointing note. pretending it had steamed up. The drums started up again. Miss Banana. The polar bear burst asunder. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. seductively. slowly. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. Booing derisively. 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. those whose side-bets were misplaced. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. circled slowly searching for an opening. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. removed his monocle and. as the onlookers went ape. Ingeniously. Without further ado. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch.
like Frosties, as he threw a flurry of furry punches at an imaginary opponent. “They’re great,” he roared. “You’re great,” his fans responded in kind. “They’re great,” he shouted again. “You’re great,” they roared back at him. He raised his mighty forepaws aloft, acknowledging their undying support. A brand icon for decades – 45 years and counting – Tony was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the knock-em-dead catchphrase. Except there was a new catchphrase in town. “Oh yes,” the shout went up. “Oooohhh yes,” the cry went up once more. “Oooooohhhhh yessssssss,” it rose for the third time, as Churchill the Bulldog bounded into the clearing, ready for several rounds of brand-to-brand conflict. He was wearing a great leather dog collar, studded with massive, sharply-pointed spikes, which made him look like some kind of canine S&M addict. Supremely confident, he waggled his signature cigar, flashed V for Victory signs and cheekily adjusted his enormous rubber jockstrap as he swaggered toward his brand name nemesis. “They’re great,” Tony bellowed into Churchill’s pugnacious face. “Oh yes?” the British bulldog replied dryly, to the delight of his aficionados. “We’ll see about that.” Infuriated by the trumping of his trademark turn of phrase, Tony tore off his cape and squared up to the smirking financial services spokespooch. Not without difficulty, he was held back by his seconds, then steered to the edge of the animal circle, where the big cat renewed his spitting, snarling defiance. Flicking a reverse V sign at the champion, Churchill casually removed his collar and handed the dummy cigar to a second, chortling quietly to himself. He’d won the first round and they hadn’t even started. Boom-boom, the drums thudded in unison. Boom-boom, they thudded once more. Boom-boom-boom, they thudded a third time, only to fall eloquently silent. The antagonists stared at each other, on opposite sides of the surrogate ring, then hunkered down like sumo wrestlers, raising and lowering their legs and slapping their thighs alternately. Tony’s watered silk shorts shone in the firelight. Churchill’s moulded jockstrap creaked ominously. The crowd held its breath. The makeshift arena was so quiet that the crackling of the burning money-off vouchers could be heard from Bella, Louis and Orlov’s vantage point. With a spine-tingling roar, the combatants rushed toward each other at top speed. Many in crowd covered their eyes as the belligerent brand icons charged across the clearing, getting closer and closer with every gigantic stride. Some yelped and howled in fearful apprehension, as an irresistible force and an unstoppable object seemed set to collide. Tony suddenly crouched and cupped his front paws. Churchill planted his hind paw in the padded cup and was hurled upward, where he somersaulted twice then landed on Tony’s shoulders, stubby forelegs outstretched. They were working together! It was a double act!! Grabbing Churchill’s ankles, Tony held the bulldog steady and strutted around the arena, as Churchill flexed his pecs and struck muscle-man poses. They went into an obviously well-rehearsed routine of tumbles and rolls and back-flips and somersaults, each taking it in turn to support the other. It was a dazzling feat of animal gymnastics, on a par with Barnum & Bailey’s circus in its heyday. It wasn’t what the audience was expecting, admittedly. Quite the
opposite. But, once the shock had passed, and the realisation dawned that both sides had won, contrapuntal shouts of “They’re great” “Oh yes” echoed from every side of the clearing. It was a brilliant double bluff, a creative confounding of customer expectations that bordered on genius. “They’re great,” Churchill’s supporters called. “Oh yes,” Tony’s fans reciprocated. And so the show continued – tumbling tiger and acrobatic bulldog, working as one – driven by the tom-tom beat of the silverbacks. Until it was rudely interrupted. Tony and Churchill may have cheated death, but death wouldn’t be thwarted. Old Father Time wanted a blood sacrifice and a blood sacrifice he received. The M & M candies, malevolent Blue and mean-spirited Green, emerged from the jungle, dragging a recalcitrant creature between them. They pulled it to the brink of the fiery pit, where A Bathing Ape stood silently, head bowed, seemingly deep in prayer. The flames had all but disappeared but the glow from the ashes was fearsome. The scene was so brightly lit, in fact, that the brand band recognised the prisoner. “It’s Mustapha,” Bella gasped, as the hard-hearted candies prepared to hurl the doughty dung beetle into the glowering inferno.
Brands Can Only Get Better
Keep It Simples, Stupid
Decisive action was needed. A rescue had to be mounted. One of the few good brands they’d met on their quest was in serious trouble, and Louis owed him big time. Mustapha Midden wasn’t the biggest brand in the world – quite the opposite – but there were more important things in commercial life than market share, advertising spend, return on equity, trade mark registration and intellectual property rights. Brand loyalty for one. Trust for two. Reciprocity for three. “You scratch my brand, I’ll scratch yours.” Louis flexed his muscles for battle. “It’s time to scratch, rip, tear and claw.” Lynxes were hellcats when riled and Louis was really riled. Spitting, in fact. Orlov placed a restraining forepaw on his brave companion’s broad shoulder. “You’re totally outnumbered. Full frontal assault won’t help him. There’s got to be a better way. We’ve got to use our smarts.” “Smarts, schmarts,” Louis said, sounding awfully like the unspeakable Axeman. “I’m going in.” His declaration was more Wash and Go than Lock and Load. However his intentions were good, as always. In the centre of the glade, A Bathing Ape stood stock still, arms outstretched above his head, feet planted firmly apart. On the ground before him knelt muttering Mustapha, shoved there by belligerent Blue and gloating Green, the dark-hearted candies. Despite his fetters, and the gaolers on either side, the dung beetle remained defiant. The high primate ignored the insolence. Instead, the marketing muezzin poured out a prayer of supplication, propitiation, solicitation, benefaction, expiation, execution, necessary sacrifice. A votive offering was required in return for the deity’s deliverance. Bape finished its propitiatory ritual with a fearsome howl, then motioned for the M&Ms to manoeuvre Mustapha to the lip of the fiery furnace. He never got there. Kaa-boom! An almighty ear-shattering, ground-shaking explosion interrupted the ape’s climatic entreaty. Crraacck! A flash of intense illumination turned the dark dell into dazzling daytime, as a biblical bolt of lightning accompanied the apocalyptic clap of thunder. The rain came down in torrents, steeltipped spears of precipitation. Everyone was soaked in seconds. The firepit fizzled out, with much steaming and hissing. The agog crowd didn’t quite know what to do, since the brand gods had spoken and they weren’t saying nice things. Quickly recovering from the meteorological onslaught, Bella realised that now was their time, their time was now. “Hurry, hurry,” she urged. “Go. Go.” The trio tore into the glade, cutting through the cowering advertising characters. They shoved A Bathing Ape aside, to his evident astonishment, heaved the hard-shelled candies into the still-smouldering bonfire, where their “don’t melt in the hand” claim couldn’t help them, and, after grabbing their friend by the flailing feelers, made a beeline for the encircling foliage.
The brand animal congregation remained in a state of shock. A few minutes earlier they’d been celebrating the co-branding antics of Tony the Tiger and Churchill the Bulldog, but their reason to believe had collapsed in an instant. Visibility was obliterated too, thanks to the lashing fallout from the thermo-nuclear cloudburst. Bella ignored the bad weather. Having braved much worse in the wilds of Adarctica, she knew exactly what to do. The penguin ordered Orlov and Louis to sprint for The Diary Queen, using their natural speed to best advantage. Electrified, they took off for the Cokeonoco far below. Trusting that the torrential rain had lubricated the muddy access path to sufficient slide ’n’ glide consistency, Bella then settled Mustapha on her back, told him to hold on for dear life and started to toboggan downhill. Twirling her flippers to overcome the initial inertia, she felt her speed pick up slowly, slowly, slowly, faster, faster, faster... Accelerating rapidly as the ground fell away, Bella slalomed between the trees, past the bushes, around the saplings, through the undergrowth, mowing down climbers and creepers and ferns and fungi en route. She skipped over the bumps, plunged into the hollows and took off on several occasions, to Mustapha’s abject terror. It was alarming. It was exhilarating. It was adrenalising. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was the way to go. Fast as Louis and Orlov were on the flat – and faster still as they hurtled downhill, on the pell-mell point of losing control – they were no match for a tobogganing penguin. Bella was first back to The Diary Queen. She roused Birdseye from his slumber. He fired up the temperamental steam engine. Their getaway tub was soon primed and ready, but there was no sign of Orlov and Louis. Anxious seconds turned into worrying minutes, as the unsettling sound of hotfoot pursuit carried through the trees and the meerkat and lynx failed to appear. Birdseye yelled that it was time to cast off. But he was no longer in command. Another minute passed, then another. Still no sign. A bloodcurdling roar bounced off the rainforest canopy, indicating that Tony himself was on their trail. Suddenly, Louis burst through the bushes, carrying a comatose meerkat in a fireman’s lift. He leapt on board with an enormous bound then collapsed to his knees, panting and gasping and coughing and heaving. Orlov had run head first into a kapok tree and, nothing if not loyal, Louis returned for his concussed companion. Birdseye reversed out of the inlet. They set off at top speed, which was next to no speed, with a view to getting as far away as possible before Churchill the indomitable acquired their scent. The old salt tried to turn downstream, since the flow’d be in their favour. But Bella overruled him, as downstream was exactly what their pursuers would expect. Upriver was the way to go. Reluctantly, Captain Birdseye complied. He said that she was making a big mistake, because the headwaters were almost unexplored and extremely dangerous. Goldman Sachs, the fearsome vampire squid, was reputed to reside upriver. Bella wasn’t listening. Talk to the paw. Point the prow thataway. The isabelline penguin regretted her decision come the dawn, which broke cold and damp. When Birdseye revealed that he’d never navigated beyond Treasure Trove Cove – that’s as far as anyone ever went – there was hell to pay. Hell in the
Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. Izod and analogous alligators. 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. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. slow travel. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. which was a first for Mustapha. and whisked him off to meet his doom. He added. apropos of nothing. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. brand. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. whirlpools. exchanged greetings and. But not right away. He’d been there. since they are exposed to them more frequently. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. slow parenting and so on. top-hatted and smirking. A strange strain of fish. If anything. chewed the fat about brand longevity. the jungle less and less dense. CEOs need to chill a little. They stopped. 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. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. The captain said they were Crocs. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. He was a Mars Inc. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. The lynx laughed it off. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. similar to slow food. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. But she said nothing. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. of conviction. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. Understandably. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. He knew what P&G were capable of. eddies. of continuing with the same basic proposition. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. Bella wasn’t so sure. . when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. shallows.form of sandbanks. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. shook him down. after asking what was biting. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. The river got narrower and narrower. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. rapids. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too.
who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. There were no signposts to speak of. No sweat. asking after his welfare.” Louis said. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. He doles out the awards. don’t forget. Barclays Bank. no. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum.” “Photoshop. He throttled back and.As the brand band slid upstream. bigger than the Marlboro Man. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. The Michelin Man.” “Heaven help us.” Bella contradicted. “Jeez.” “He’s big. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. run a few errands. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll. more like. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. believe me. Mustapha looked confused. they spotted Strider. in an awestruck voice. allowing for the onrushing current.” Bella snapped. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). “Five star restaurants. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.” “No. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. right in front of the distended inner tube. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. held her steady in the centre of the stream. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. He looked in pretty good shape. a superhuman snowman. even though he knew he shouldn’t. At a bend in the river.” Orlov gasped. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. The remains of a massive . you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. though not inaccurately.” Orlov quipped. Not far ahead of them. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany.” Louis sighed. wondering if they could do anything for him. “They’re all at it nowadays. all right. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. he’s really let himself go. The overweight icon said nothing. either. like little boys playing truant. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat.” Mustapha said.” Louis continued. That’s definitely not Doughboy. “They were airbrushed. Louis and Orlov fell about. the Johnnie Walker whisky character. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably. “Who?” “Bibendum. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently.
the mist descended. ravaged by fine wines. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. . Before long. And it was. “It isn’t alive. Smiling appreciatively. The blimp burped instead. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. “I think it’s a statue. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. Red thereafter.” Orlov said. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. White to start.” But it wasn’t. but he still said nothing. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him.
There was Quisp. practically. Close encounters. Taking command once more. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. he gurned from time to time. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. like an air raid siren. There was Google’s Android software icon. sometimes to starboard. sometimes arcing across the sky. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. Orlov?” Bella called.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. pulsing intermittently. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. They moved around above them. touch it. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. sometimes to port. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. “Maybe back in the good old days. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and .Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. No good will come of this. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Her brain had gone numb. But Bella wasn’t listening. “What do you reckon. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. at least. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze.” he shouted.” More in hope than expectation. “But in this day and age. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. She couldn’t think of any more. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. smell it. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. Little green men. A humming sound started up to starboard. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. Brand abduction. UFOs. Bella stood in the forecastle. She had other things to attend to. Another loud hum struck up to port. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. Bella bellowed back. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. The fug literally vibrated at one point. “Area 51. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. She could sense it. such as it was. right? Since the 1950s. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. ACME was within her grasp. “We’re entering Aliens country. There’s nothing to worry about.
A vast orange sodafall. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. eyeball-melting orange in hue. as a wall of fizzy water. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. Spectral silence reigned. rather. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. The buzzing had stopped. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. “I know where we are. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. At the side of the falls. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. very close. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. The captain’ll come round soon enough. Smirking despite their perilous situation. though. He’s done his duty by us. It got louder and louder. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. Louis made to tie the tub up. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. bracken patches. bramble . Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. Before long. broke out his wings and took flight. An intense stare.” Louis didn’t disagree. they mounted purposefully. The landing lights had moved on. Bella’s band were close. The epitome. even. feelers flailing. he gave up. allegedly. Bella licked the side of her beak. but Bella said no. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. A dull rumble roared ahead. Without pausing for breath. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. legs lashing. sucking his thumb. presumably to another planet. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. The lull didn’t last. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. bubbling and fizzing. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. The acme. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. Eventually. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. let her go. “This is where we get off.” she called. cut into the living rock. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. There’s no point persecuting him any further. Ho. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle.” Bella hissed. it was definitely the colossus of brands.” Orlov did the needful. flight by flight. Brand stretch is bad news. “Please. to the tableland above.” With a natural nautical flair.” she shouted to Louis. “Shut him up. “Hush. Said they were legendary. Ho. “This is Fanta Falls.yammering that prevented rational thought. someone. Several flights of stairs later. They’re impassable. emerged through the mist immediately ahead.
of course. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. Beefeater. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. However.” she said. a new university. Bella was bewildered. nothing less than BrandLand University College. They set off for the administrative building. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. wall-mounted day planners. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. “It’s Professor Kipling. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. It was a university. cold. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. “and then see what’s what. As they drew closer to the structure. Louis suggested the Students’ Union. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. almost art deco. Bibendum. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. grikes and runnels ahead. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. According to a poll in Time magazine. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. He was right. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. I suspect.” he said. As Bella and the boys strolled past. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. The others gathered round to do likewise. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. neo-classical pastiche. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. Certainly. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. to be precise. too.bunches and hardy karst grasses. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. Truth.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. cold. more beautiful still were the students. “I just don’t get it. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. surely. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. while trying to work out where they were.
There’s hope for us yet. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. Top medics are always called Mister. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. a kind of inverted snobbery. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. Pekkle the duck.” Orlov corrected. disappeared into the belly of the beast.” Bella noted. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties.” Mustapha crowed.” “Great. rats. “It’s Mr Kipling. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. Don’t be bashful. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. a few moments later. “This is the place. He winked by way of replying. Kipling’s door was at the very end. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. Louis. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. They knocked politely.” a melodious voice responded. “Enterrrrr.p. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. “At last. Bella shook her head.a.” Orlov sighed. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics.” “Actually. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. then reappeared waving excitedly. That’s a good thing. Not him too. Louis would have volunteered to help. mouthing bowwow for good measure. It’s even more elevated than Professor.body. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. if not exactly in seventh heaven. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. a. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate.” . Picke Bicke mouse.” “He’s in.” he shouted. “There’s a board by the door that says so. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. “Enter. 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. “Excellent. Exasperated. They piled into the lift and. “He isn’t a professor after all. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. Understandably. It was a nondescript sixties tower block.” There was indeed.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. while holding open the heavy glass door. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. Pochacco the dog.s. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor.
then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. Orlov shrugged. and pushed. raised her flipper. Louis nodded.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. thought about things for a second. . Bella took a deep breath. Undeterred.
cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. which stretched from floor to ceiling. Pussain. As Bella gazed around the room. dewy eyed. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. Books there were. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. somehow. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. all silent. and several others she didn’t recognise. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. Whereas dogs are everywhere. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. “Second. “only for cats?” Smiling. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. as brand mascots. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. “Before you ask. She imagined. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. smiling obsequiously. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns.” she asked. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. Cataletto. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. Catstable. There were paintings by Catavaggio. what few portrayals there are. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. are often negative. etc. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. as product spokespersians. curled in a ball.” Mr Kipling said. She didn’t know what to expect. but not on the second. She was right on the first count. Salvadore Kitty. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. His handlebar . a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. with black necktie and starched collar. though most of these were open and in use. “Is that like the glass ceiling. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. Statues of cats. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. cats are discriminated against and. “First. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. But there were long chains of Russian cats. Dozens of them. all ceramic. that it would be filled with books and not much else. It was the statues that surprised her.
He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. about flipper fatigue. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. Black Beauty. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. clandestine success. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. Orlov. “Correct. it transpired. rose from his desk. intellectual acuity. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. proper. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. peering at her intently. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. He rubbed his chin idly. To all intents and purposes. As it was true confessions time. along with the space-invader sound effects.” Kipling said calmly.” Kipling conceded. He knew her grandfather well. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. unerring. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. He recognised Bella right away. Louis. since the brand was a lynx in name only. industrious. “Let me show you something. turning to Orlov.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. “I see. then rose to greet his visitors. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. lost in thought. nor the surrounding countryside. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar.” he continued. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. he was less impressed by. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. The patriarch pushed back his chair. or said he did. “And you. However there was a good reason for that. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. Indeed.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. much less the BrandLand University campus.” Kipling said. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. “I see. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience.” he called. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. . Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. Bella inhaled deeply. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise.
Bella. Everything became clear. unprotected by copyright or trademark. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. The Gruffalo. Bella. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. The clouds parted. “We’re talking about a state of mind. a glass of hard liquor in hand. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. let alone a committee that calls the shots. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. I take it. Watership Down. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. “So. What you see. where we study black swans. “Take a sip. “If it’s not any of the buildings. Bella. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. There is no controlling force. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby.Animal Farm. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. surrounded by plaster cats. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. ACME is a generic term. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. The Ugly Duckling. purple cows. to Kipling’s irritation. animal emblem products in particular. Bella was too stunned to respond. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. worried looks on their faces. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment.” Orlov quipped.” At a loss. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. the Hare and the Tortoise. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands.” “In a way. With a start. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. She’d been out for hours. She tried again. Call of the Wild. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. “It’s more intangible than that. It’s a fake. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm.” “An exceedingly good fake. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. Bella awoke. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. used by all and sundry. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments.” Mr Kipling acknowledged.” Bella said. Academy Country Mammal Education. Toad of Toad Hall. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. She was lying on a leather chaise longue.” A light went on above her head. Mr Kipling sat beside her. Bad as capitalism can be. with a . Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world.” he said. She felt her legs buckle beneath her.
The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. or so the story goes. say. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. You should consider a career in academia. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. “Exactly. I could acquire a taste for that. One was right in front of the lynx. We need people like you round here. instant impact…or else. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. As Bella sat up. He was starving. It’s a test. “Oh. Very impressed. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. “We live in a world of identical products. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. Curvoisier delivered. “Branding. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. Orlov dropped his eyes. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. Exactly. someone once said. “This isn’t a snack. “Almond slices. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. though. renders the similar dissimilar.” With a good-try smile. instant returns.twinkle in his eye. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. aren’t they? Angel cake. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. distilled from dead dogs. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. I’m okay. . Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. “I’m not hungry. separates the inseparable. The rewards are enormous in the end. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. “These are the essence of branding. instant rewards. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. especially in these days of instant results. emphasising. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. Kipling returned to his desk.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. she thought. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. It was a rhetorical question. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. raising a flipper in protest.” Bella said.” he said.” With a knowing look. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some.” The meerkat nodded sagely. though. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. He succumbed. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk. perhaps? Apple pie. “I’m impressed. However. however. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. just like these slices of cake. to her companions’ relief. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole.” 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. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. All this way for what? What indeed. then stowed the bottle away. Aleksandr. Effective branding is a very slow process.” Disappointed. “No really. It looked and smelled delicious. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection.
You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. eyeing up the other slice.” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. Exactly. You establish a monopoly.” Bella said. “Exactly..Expecting to be lambasted for his greed. You swallow the competition. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face. fast and effective. at least in the short run..” Mr Kipling replied. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties. It’s cheap.” Louis added. finishing her brandy.” . He needn’t have bothered. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised.” “I still don’t see. Louis struck his best cute cat pose. his rudeness. “I think you do.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. those that walk or stand upright . the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. Accordingly. Le Penguin didn’t want that. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. is that penguins are as popular as ever. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. The demand for spokescreatures. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. emperors. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. As did the Great Chain of Branding. If anything. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. Bella had never heard the expression before. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. Bella cursed herself bitterly. his call for a cull of isabellines. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. Cute critters remind them of childhood. rather. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Had it been McKitty. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. However. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. Breed-interest. as did the early 1900s. designed to make his breed the boss. chinstraps or rockhoppers. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. his slaughter of the innocents. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. they were much less photogenic than adélies. the suckers at the centre of it all. The irony. though. was counter-cyclical. Models and Explanations. Humankind. when western capitalism also wobbled. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. Next are bipedal animals. in short.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. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. He’d concocted a credible external threat. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. It was a blatant power-play. Michelin Man. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. say anything. Dogs’d do anything. Captain Birdseye. to say nothing of tourists. swear to anything. frankly. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. was motivated by self-interest. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. He wanted power. according to Kipling.
is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. by and large. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. Branding. much less millipedes. “I’ll be staying here for a while. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. or so she believed. most notably bears. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. She glanced across at Kipling. spiders and cockroaches. She’d been a fool. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. cats. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. is red in tooth and claw. naturally. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status.” Louis said. Louis seemed excited. meerkats and prairie dogs. She was going to miss him. though not as far down as six-legged. “I think it’s time to go. She’d been outsmarted. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. they say. sadly. they’d been living on a pig’s back. Clearly. crocodiles are further down the rankings. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. rhinos. But all was not lost. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. Literally. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. sheep. at bottom. Bella. monkeys. She’d been beaten. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. She recalled. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. The Great Chain explained a lot. “Rrrrrrrrr. Quadrupeds like cows. Worse.” “Actually. Well beaten. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. Recession. The entire journey had been a waste of time. dogs. Not yet. to the top of the penguin pile. They were a study in contrasts. or possibly rockhoppers. Easy-going as a rule. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. the climax of Animal Farm.” Bella purred. She turned to her companions. . tigers. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. Le Penguin had won. Not completely. However. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. She’d fallen for it. because penguins had done pretty well. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. Bella felt fit to be tied. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. They hugged. Not by a long chalk. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. given its size and growth prospects. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. with shame. Beaten. guys. penguins. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision.in semi-human fashion.
when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. Her latest was called Snare It. Beaten to his own punch line. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. I know. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. “If ever you need…” “Yes.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. “You gave Kipling the look. Bella. Thanks. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. the way I skimmed so many others. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh.” the great brand man chuckled.Sad-faced. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. eyes shining with meerkat tears. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. I’m Flat Eric 2. Scoff It. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. as well as with sauces. I’m a fraud. I’m afraid. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. Attenborough. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. “Why’s that. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. Cook It. kissed him on the cheek and. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. To his shame and embarrassment. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. However. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. “I’m staying too.” he giggled. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. including Catch It.” Mirthful. Aleksandr. Taste It. She held him tightly. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). pickles. for example.” She leant forward. he looked forward to attending her lecture. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. Still chatting. I’m a fad. “I think we can do better than that. before whispering in his ear. You’re too kind. Cambridge. which was sure to prove provocative. Follow me. Toast It. condiments and preserves. Shoot It. But I skimmed that particular entry. Skin It.” Louis laughed. “I’ve got a lot to learn.” Touched. Apparently. Trim It. “That’s our Simples secret.0. I could do with it. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. and the not so highly regarded Department of . for starters.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. “…and. Bella.” he said. Ever proper. The meerkat was mistaken.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. “Thanks. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. with a come-here gesture to Louis. I know. Assam. the vaunted TV naturalist. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. Clean It. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough.
Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. “I like this place. the great . where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. Mustapha stared at them askance. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates.Popular Culture. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. Her utter amazement. “I’ve got something for you. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. With the hood up. though. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. I’m a desert rat. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. don’t you know. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner. they emerged into a compact.” He reached behind the makeshift counter.” Orlov said. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. suppliers.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak. plus matching undergarments.” He rubbed his claws again. Bella tried them on. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. Eventually. raw material. ponytails. and. “you need permission. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. one Mustapha Midden. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. “You might be needing these for your journey. however.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). lookingood-ladies palaver.” “Many claws make light work. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. while rubbing his legs gleefully.” With a flourish. “But where?” Louis inquired. “After you’ve cleaned up here. the throng dispersed. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. beehives. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. Can’t stand the cold. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. she looked like a sacred ibis. Mustapha. bookstore. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. “But surely. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. So much so. all with a snazzy scarab logo. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. Under normal circumstances. With six legs and a little get up and go. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. Before long. “All sold out. “But how?” Bella asked. bobcat’s your uncle. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. before you know it. All six of them. They were a perfect fit.” Orlov said. credit…” No less nonplussed.” “No can do.
Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. the scribe. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. On Kipling’s call. Bella hugged Aleksandr. she was gone. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. the arbiter. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. . glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. where she awaited further instructions. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. Louis.
The ride in a Rolls was second to none.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. though. Isaac and Nina. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. yah. If he’d been on this Rolls.” she replied diplomatically. redolent of Roedean. under German ownership. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. “Yah. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. 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 had nothing to lose. suffice it to say. She asked instead about the brand. As they rose to their cruising altitude. anymore. Bella replied in the affirmative.” “Rather. the offbeat plan solidified. she was getting used to it. She had lost her parents. “We fiddled while the brand burned. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. “You’re looking well on it. As they flew over Fanta Falls. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. Ogilvy hated flying. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. “They don’t make ’em like you. Paris Humboldt. much less defeated fierce macaronis. lowly place though it was. Why. she had lost her best friend.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. luxurious. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza.” Ecstasy said immodestly. Bella thought. I am. she asked. So did Bella. It was true what they said. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. But after Pegasus and the Roc. 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. with impenetrable jungle on either side. Bella didn’t hold that against her. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? .” she said. During the appeasement era. Bella was spellbound. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. If not quite Anna Karenina. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. serene. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. apparently.
folks.“That’s where we went wrong. Bella felt a chill in the air. She could see them pointing their flippers. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. It was déjà vu all over again. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. Better yet. It was invigorating. a penguin power play. Outraged.” “Tell the tale. moreover. He’s a tyrant. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. Almost instantly.” Ecstasy sighed. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. The bitterer the better. except that there were more macaronis than before. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. It was beautiful too. She couldn’t make it out at first. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. though some adélies looked up. He sounded crazier than ever. Bella could feel herself welling up. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. taking in the incredible apparition above them. Bella whirled round. More and more turned round and faced skywards. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. “Yes. Buffeted by howling winds. A murmur commenced. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium.” “Quite. make the sale. she mused. even though she’d no home to go to. the Iceland ice shelf. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. the deep blue Boots crevasses.” Taken aback. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. wrapped up . as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. I suppose. Suddenly she could. an enormous shocked intake of breath. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. Look. looking for a suitable landing site. Before long. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. look. Sad. It’s a trick. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. The muster was much better organised. The isabellines must be found! The emperors are responsible! The cunning kings are irresponsible! The rebellious rockhoppers will pay for aiding and abetting their isabelline brethren! ACME insists!! True to form. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. all regimented. all equidistant. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. She was home. She could see the Homebase Glacier. Bella screeched at the multitude below. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. It was wonderful.” Carried away on the wind. don’t fall for it. in the far distance. all shouting as one. Bella believed. it was bitter.” All talked out. Perched on the back of a flying angel. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation.
The Ibis. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. a shot across the bows. There is no hope for us. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. He quickly regained his composure. Bella had the crowd in her pocket.” . I set out to speak with Mr Kipling.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. the coming creature is the prairie dog. All brands must pass. Ten days ago. head covered in an enormous cowl. it seemed. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. Emperors. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage.” she whispered to herself. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. Denunciation was doomed. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. Would it were otherwise. Bella swallowed. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. “Seize the day. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. she must have been a baleful sight. Very risky. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. a messenger. it needed several seconds to germinate. here on behalf of ACME. It requires a little lateral thinking. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. a way out for us all. because she was one of their own. while pulling back her khaki cowl. He vacated the microphone. in delight and relief. Antithesis. But he couldn’t interrupt. However. “There is a solution. “According to the Meow Jones Index. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death.” She paused again. however. however. followed by those of gentoo descent. It was risky. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. She knew she only had one shot. which of course is our community’s speciality. as he tried to work out her angle.” Bella announced to the multitude. The entire crowd squawked in horror. with only her beak protruding. As one creature falls in human estimation. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. another rises. a sign. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. The crowd gasped again. She bit her lip. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. they seemed to say. had finally arrived. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. We’re all macaronis now. Even macaronisation won’t save us. She took a deep breath. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. I met him.in a great taupe cloak. “I am. Having planted the seed of hope. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. Inadvertently. as her image appeared on the giant screen. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. It was hard to control her anger. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. She held fire. These were the people who’d killed her parents.
No more hairpieces. They live in large communities like us. They look a little like us. like us. Not sceptical. as the gathering made up its mind. No more tufts. I want my MuMi. emperors emperors. She already had. It was all or nothing. complete with stylish scarab logo. you isabelline bitch. she looked incredible. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. “It means removing all tufts.” the audience shouted.” . even though their natural crests would have to go too. but the rewards are enormous. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. where you belong. It was the riskiest of the lot. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. Penguins are passé. Not bemused. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. The dream did. In reality. one for all. critter. of all for one. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. Prairie dogs are tuftless. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. The blackfoots went bananas. “I want my MuMi. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality.” There was complete silence for a second. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. Kings could be kings. asshole. I know. Playful as always. But with a sick slimeball like you. “Every prairie dog has its day. Suddenly.” “Catch you later. because I’ll be back. royals royals. And take your tufts with you. Having won over the doubters. Enjoy it.” He glared murderously. though. we’ll cull you. Today is my day. “I’ll get you for this. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. a huge roar of approval rent the air.” “Don’t cull us. No more macaronisation.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. Bristling with rage. She had another card to play. “Fear not. The gentoos jumped for joy. I’ll make an exception. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. Even our most extravagantly crested species. Bella thought. though.” Mmmm. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. of togetherness. Victorious. she turned away from the podium. such as our beloved macaronis. sadly. “Fellow penguins. a little like isabellines. penguin parity didn’t exist.” “Not today you won’t. “I want my MuMi. This is a heavy price.The audience exchanged glances.” she said calmly. will have to depilate. The old order would re-establish itself.
Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck. since penguin popularity had never been higher. True. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. admittedly. 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. trampled on though they were. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention.and laptop-equipped cubicles. 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. Finny too. be it the iPod. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. The cuter the critter. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. Rin Tin Tin. Except it didn’t last long. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. Still. prevalent though pigeonholing was. Alone with her thoughts. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. She didn’t belong anymore. according to Mr Kipling.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. there were MuMis to move. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. she’d never felt so lonely. they dreamed dreams of freedom. In the meantime. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. Akin to chained animals in their phone. Pixar and Dreamworks. For ever. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . mashups and graphic novels. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. However. Where there’s muck there’s brands. Look on the bright side. Thoughts of her dead friend. Stuart Little on the one hand. Orlov had said. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. She never really did. was draining away inexorably. It was unnecessary. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. Thoughts of her late parents. 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. she had a job to do. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. she told herself. Sean the Sheep on the other. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. the more they exploited it. or to complain about stereotyping. if not his totemic tufts. but really didn’t now.
No one was looking. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. Ciao. “I’ll work on it. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. “that there are forty million cats up north. she said her fashionista farewells. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. Seemed pretty stout. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories.” “Goody! Gotta go. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. She had a busy time ahead of her. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. Mummies mean a lot. smiling at the strangely distant memory. Mustapha.deliverer. Laughing.” she chided. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. I’ll be passing on P&G. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. . Mustapha changed the subject. was drawing in. many maintain. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. “I hope you realise.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. Logistics. The crevasse caught her eye. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot. Bella was all alone. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. It was time to pay her final respects. However. She stared over the edge of the glacier. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. She felt the material with a flipper. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. she Skypied Mustapha. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. She glanced around. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. “I’ll be needing agents. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest. Mummies are special. because they already embody the brand. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. Evening. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. such as it was. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. let alone satanic macaronis.” “I hope you realise. Actually. The sun was low in the sky. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm.” Mustapha countered. especially to those without them. suffice it to say. Air kiss.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. the ride was really rather thrilling.” With a smile of admiration. who was hard at work on his furballs. Mustapha. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. She checked her MuMi ensemble. if there were problems with build quality.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. Bella. you know. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. air kiss. darling. On a whim. I was thinking of hiring isabellines.
shrieking with alarmed laughter. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. She tried to kick the thing off. The kaleidoscopic colours. the great divide. to no avail. beak aching. Both of them did. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death.“Weeeeeeeeee. it descended through IBM Blue. were incredible to behold. The previous ride was coming back to her. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. moaning and groaning. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. trying to focus. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. She could see stars. The looming twosome merged into one. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. yourself especially. Alarm bells ringing. but was far too fearful to care. Despite her abject terror. more like. young woman. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. eyes watering. Head throbbing. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. as there always are. Waterlogged. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. her death wish. “Izzy. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. the precipitous final plunge. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. Bella shook her head.” Bella dived head-first into the void. Pepsi-cola Blue. “You should be ashamed of yourself. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. she remembered the wall of death. unquestionably. no way. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. Recklessly. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. screaming. water-resistant. Isaac and Nina. All of a sudden. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. howling. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. however. A sheet anchor. She hurtled round bends. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. She corkscrewed like crazy. in fact. But only for a second. Pale Tiffany blue to start. the warp-factor slide into the sea.” “I…I…I…Oh. A death sentence. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. Uncle Izzy. past slackjawed. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. She pushed and pushed and pushed. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents.” he observed. It got caught around her ankles. She’d forgotten how fast it was. She bounced over bumps several times. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend.” . across the bay. Paris. Go faster. apart from that downpour up the jungle. slow-witted leopard seals. my head hurts. punctuated by periods of blind panic. not looking where she was going. BMW Blue. more like.
She peeped anxiously over the screen. looking pale and interesting. You owe them an apology. Bella leapt up. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. daddy. to one side of the wall of death divide. They assumed the worst. There’s a bit of scarring. Without a by your leave. mummy. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. what have you been doing with yourself. backs bowed. and then she saw them. a proper job. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. sleeping gently. Warned by the adolescent gentoos.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way. head completely clear.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. The decision was made. They all talked at once.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. she hugged her parents with all her might. However. followed his indicative flipper. huddled together.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. daddy. They couldn’t find her. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter.” . mummy.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. Ecstatic. it was Bella’s decision. But her outfit saved her. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. She’s happy the way she is. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. “Paris is perfectly fine. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. “So. you know. to his delighted consternation.” “Miracles never cease. They had their hands full with Paris. “Mummy. Plans to get a real job. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. heads bent. surrounded by screens. all distant relatives. Daddy. “Your parents are worried sick about you. worried sick. There the heiress was.” They looked up. Overcome with emotion. but she’ll live. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history.” Smiling indulgently. you say?” “Yes. daddy. young lady. she toward them. she didn’t know what to say. no.” He had her on “are”. manifestly in mourning. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. daughter of mine. We smuggled her to safety. Disappearing off like that. “Worried sick. Bella’s parents came to join her. not knowing what to expect. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. Bella scampered across to her best friend. They rushed toward her. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. dearest. Staggered. “No.
Let me explain.“What??!!” “As I said.” THE END . it’s a long story.
this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. Who will win. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. who would win?” And. Daisey. Although no topic was taboo. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. for example. Way back in the early days of the company. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. I have no fucking idea. you know. prospects. So much so. This crazy fucking bear is fucking with you from a distance and you’re like ‘Damn!’ because you know that this is how people are going to take care of business.” “Like a secret message.The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. that at some point in the proceedings. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. because we need to be the .com. “That’s a good question. plans and profitability. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions.” Needless to say. without fail. 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. on the web. the ebullient founder of Amazon. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace.” “Or a plan. and the perfect work will do both. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings.” “Maybe it’s an allegory.
Maybe. Maybe. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. admittedly. I mused. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. I conceded. Aflac duck. We begin with a little bit of backstory. though. enthusiastically. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. Granted.armed bears. boring. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. And now that BrandLand “exists” – as a kind of Oz with advertising – there’s no reason why it can’t be revisited from time to time. I made a start on several others. a sure fire cure for insomnia.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. the case studies in the original – railroads. today’s multi-tasking. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. I surmised. Bears with guns. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article.3 Taken aback by this reaction. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. I fully expected the students to respond positively. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. hey. Puma’s puma. 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. short. I didn’t get round to most of them. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. interestingly. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. All things considered. I mean. favourably. I cast around for excuses. the bears who come equipped. and.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. Jaguar’s jaguar. 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. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . others learned to love the piece after several close readings. But. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. it pains me to report. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. Some students were blown away. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. bombastic and. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. Maybe. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. Some time ago. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. the students hated Levitt’s essay.2 Much to my surprise. They found it dull. petroleum. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting).
much less reading the wretched things. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. Except that I did. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. naturally). Let alone thrillers. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. There was only one problem. I had never written fiction before. The Marketing Code. Between 2005 and 2008. 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. what’s more. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. My students. But then I noticed something intriguing. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. They cost an absolute fortune. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. as they say. . if not undaunted. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. In my case. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. secret codes proliferated.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. as did Bono. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). while queuing up for the cash register. clearly. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). tongue-in-cheek. As an inveterate booklover. and The Lost Logo. 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. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. The antidote. You couldn’t make it up.Unfortunately. I did what many novice novelists do. Agents & Dealers. Undeterred. the writing role model was Dan Brown.5 Dead bodies abounded. as a quirk of the Irish. Once again. If anything. in effect. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. Nevertheless. as an aberration. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. One was the latest management bestseller. Marilyn Monroe. by the task I’d set myself. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. When flying around the country.
Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. The whole process. And quite a few of my later ones. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. never mind bring them all together successfully. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. Nowadays. I suppose. if truth be told. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. 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. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. It seemed like an interesting project and. Ditto my fiction. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. However. True. My original intention was to leave things there. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. techniques and writing style of academia. chronology. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. similarly. etc. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. of William Golding. Red Bull energy drink. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. Stork margarine.). The same is true of fiction. Crocs shoes. the kernel for the covering. pacing. was that I tried to do too much. 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. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. as it gave me . Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools.In retrospect. 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. By far my biggest mistake. consumer behaviour. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. though. Essentially. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. characterisation and more besides. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. Like any learner. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. Yes. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. However. full stop. say.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. action sequences especially. Students. funnily enough.
videos. admittedly. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. the breakup of rock band Oasis. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). car parking in Tel Aviv. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. are exemplary media mashups. Rob Williams. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” . blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you.7 In music. I mean. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. wasn’t impressed. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. computer applications et al. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. bits of bytes brought together as books. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. the reader. What’s more. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. In the visual arts. the way I did before. My brilliant publisher. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. Canterbury Tales. Rob cut through the crap. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. In television.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. he commanded. et al. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. not unlike those in the Decameron. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. songs. Pom Somkabcharti. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. In this case. 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”. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. In the literary world. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. Bring the brands to life. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. Whistler. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. In movies. Arabian Nights. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Let the brand characters be characters. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. meanwhile. mashups are digital medleys. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. The Penguin’s Progress was born. Stop writing parodies. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres.
That said. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. Ask any counterfeiter. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. between the covers of glossy magazines. on roadside billboards.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. Charlie the Tuna. fan fiction. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. True. Brand characters are trademarked.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. Jennifer Government. for certain consumers at any rate.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. of late. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. As one commentator ruefully observes: . It gathers together several hundred brand characters. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. though a hardline. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. Pattern Recognition. 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. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. their intellectual property. which features more than 3. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. let alone Red Lobster. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Indeed. their copyrights. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. There’s an elephant in the room. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. What’s more. among others). however. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. she’s Borden born and bred. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. In a shared narrative space. consumer response has been highly favourable. That elephant is called copyright. in the main. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama.
we pulverise their livers and bones. however. . that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. That’s their prerogative. the genius screenwriter. I grant you. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. TPP is an attempt to do just that. It does so with satirical intent. Any criticism. original. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. Just think of Handel. the author. As pastoralists and sport hunters. Rob Williams. As if. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. and. the standard academic article. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. but the conventional marketing textbook. This attempt may not be successful. For one thing. To normal human beings. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. last but not least. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. Alun Richards. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. then we may all. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. the “Faber Fellowship”. nations. though. who was a notorious borrower. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. Madison. their teeth and genital organs.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. As a critic by inclination. bears or tigers. We seek to empower kingdoms. hawks or eagles. except for the lawyers. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. live to regret it. 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. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. my incredible family – Linda. And yet. 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. 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. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. The Bedside Book of Beasts. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies.10 I can’t deny. the dreadful how-to tome. unconventional ways. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. professional sports teams. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. should be directed at me.
scientific and irrational. Marketing Theory 4 (3). mine has been reasonably productive. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. New York. My only defence is that. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. from Claude and the comic book. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. This may well be so. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. 2005). Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage.com (Fourth Estate. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. Don’t all rush at once. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. Yes.com Notes and References 1. 209-238. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. 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. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant.Mike Daisey. 2002). as a card-carrying academic. and the ancestors of humanity. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. for example. 2004. or scavengers. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. It’s very widely cited. helpful or destructive. are available in his excellent anthology. However. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. See Stephen Brown. you! If you have any comments on the novel. we need to explore other platforms. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. Both. or a deceptive mixture of the two. such as iPhone apps. in what seems to be a search . 2. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. bears are renowned spirit guides. 6. pp. experiment and belief. Still available from all good charity shops. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. pp.feathers. computer games and videography. 5. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. and Christ the Lion of Judah. compared to some mid-life crises. As with all symbolic representations. 1986). 4. You glutton for punishment. Among northern peoples. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement. London. Speaking personally.sfxbrown. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. whose art takes from then and now. London. incidentally. 7. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. and body-parts from the earliest of times. 9899. As a group. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. I’m acutely conscious that. 3. Thank you for reading this far. The younger generations are prepared to read. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown.
John Naughton. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. London. 10. 21. Culture Magazine. 2008). 2009). is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. pp. 1-23. London. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. Loftus. pp. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. On the on-going copyright debate. 2010. 2010). . 2008).for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. 8. New York. 19 (1). 6-7). an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. 2005) and his more recent polemic. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. 9. 5 June. 2010. Chicago. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. Psychology and Marketing. London. Braun. The Observer. Sunday 25 April. Kathryn A. 2002. p. check out Lawrence Lessig. The Sunday Times. “Entering a whole new head space”. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press.
Honda’s Mr Opportunity. Morris the Cat. perhaps inevitably. Captain Birdseye. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). the Hofmeister beer bear. Nipper. Ronald McDonald. the Borden cow. the Burger King. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. Aunt Jemima. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Bertie Bassett. Joe Isuzu. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel.2 It follows. Johnny English. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. Anthropomorphically speaking. Most of these mentions. or the Noid. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Hartley. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. are made in passing. moreover. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. assorted Scottish Widows and many.1 Well. Cheeka. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress.com sock puppet. such as Hello Kitty. Of this total. 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. all told. We know a lot about ourselves. the Bisto family. not entirely. Veritably Clean. Fido Dido. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. After trawling through websites. a shades-wearing. the Bon Ami . brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind.151 individual entries. Howard Brown. the Michelin Man. the HMV dog. Uncle Ben. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. whether it be A Bathing Ape. my dataset comprised 1. the Morton Salt Girl. this is as it should be because “We are people. J. Pillsbury Doughboy. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom.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 Gold Blend couple. many more. the Coppertone Girl.R. Colonel Saunders. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. Crazy Eddy. the Vodaphone pug. Elsie. Julius Pringles. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. the Pets. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. the Mytag repair man. the Vlasic stork. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. 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.
Dove deodorant. the Lacoste crocodile. Jaguar cars. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. ladybirds.3 A secular trend is evident too. Tom Tomato). fireflies and. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). unsurprisingly. multiply. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. The first of these involves national animals. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. South Africa of springboks. Toilet Duck. Le Coq Sportif. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. the logo. Puma sportswear. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. Californian Raisins. In some cases. furthermore. turtles and lizards. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. seahorses. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. mystify. As you might expect. More recently. the Monster. dolphins. Mr Clean. the Calvin Klein polo pony. whales. eagles and horses are popular in America. no less). However. Crocs shoes. Cobra beer. vegetables and plants (e. The match model is characterised by congruence. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. Shell petrol. Aliens. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. thanks to Steven Spielberg. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. India of elephants and so forth. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. when the space race. Insects. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. fecundity. as are personified fruits. France is fond of roosters. 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. owls impart wisdom. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. Cap’n Crunch cereal. Kangaroos sneakers. Australia of kangaroos. cuckoos cause trouble. Mr Kipling cakes.com and Bell Canada beavers. Wild animals are rather less popular. mix. bring up the rear. needless to say. caterpillars. This is very much in keeping . Mr Peanut. Woodpecker cider. albeit butterflies. Camel cigarettes. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities.chickens. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. whereby the brand name. the Aflac duck. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. Birds. the Dodge ram. Betty Crocker. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. Penguin books. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. spiders. Broadly speaking. storks bring children. freedom. In addition to the overall pattern. Chiquita Banana. etc). my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. anthropomorphic mobile phones. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. for instance. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%).g. perhaps surprisingly. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%).
but the mystify strategy is something else again. the penguin. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. Leo. except that they work for free. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. In effect. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. the MGM lion. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. At one stage. Congenital critter creep is one thing. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. way back when. the belief that if one critter is good. glowering. the 9Lives spokescat. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. Maturity is marked by multiplication. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. the Trix rabbit. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. the Lacoste crocodile. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. don’t complain. similarly. all things considered. Morris. Larabee. the Budweiser Clydesdales. Since 1994. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. the Airwick ostrich. Beauregard. is perhaps the . the HMV dog. whose name you’ll never ever guess. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. the Kool cigarettes penguin. though. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. animal mascots are not immortal. Chester. The fourth stage. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. Multiply. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). There are currently six M&M spokescandies. each with their own colourful personality. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. begat Chipper. Willie. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. That said. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. Geoffrey. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. black. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. Nipper. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. fire-breathing dog with six legs. the Toys R Us giraffe. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. the Hush Puppies basset hound. by contrast. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). indeed. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. 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. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. rarely go off the rails and. believe me). the Cheetos cheetah. basically speak on behalf of the brand.
so too today’s terrorist outrages. fat cat bankers are western society’s permissible hate figures and Joe Camel’s capital punishment proves that laundering questionable behaviour through endearing spokesungulates is socially unacceptable. In this regard. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. True. religion. the sleep of reason produces mascots. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. promiscuous rabbits etc. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. sexual orientation. Their characters. continue to be caricatured and vilified. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. gender. The brand character. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). wise owls. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. etc. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. more cherubic. Le Penguin notwithstanding. In general terms. cheeky monkeys.most fascinating of all. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. 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. if anything. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. which increases opportunities to view. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. their “natures”. etc. more cuddly. 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. stupid cows. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. social class. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. animals remain fair game. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. like death. the same is not true of animals. their personalities. age.7 Whatever else is . 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. Pace Goya. I’ve described that at length elsewhere. uncertainty and rapid technological change. more childlike. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). nevertheless.6 Be that as it may. gets younger. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. 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. sly foxes.0 – cf. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details.
C’est la vie. at any rate. London.This worldview. p. 1936). . New York. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. Oxford. 1979. 2000). “The great American bubble machine”. Matt Taibbi. far less hardy. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. [original 1962].said. p. pp. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. Gould. Stephen J. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters.rollingstone. trans. My database. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). 2009. London. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. phoenixes. Tony the Tiger’s only son. griffins. many of which can fly (dragons. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. 129. 2004). xi. incidentally. Natural History. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. 4. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. p. 2001). 2009).com. www. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. The more things change in western capitalism. Anthropomorphically. Note. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. 3. 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. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. 8. in years to come. The sum effect is arrested development. 1995). p. 89) explains. London. Cambridge. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. Stewart Guthrie. more submissive. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). check out Stephen Brown. BTW. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. however. Cambridge. accessed 4 May 2010. the more things stay the same.8 Notes and References 1. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. 7. 2. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. If you want to suffer further. Claude Lévi-Strauss. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. 13 July. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. 89). 5. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. about our great economic cataclysm. Pegasus and so on). 1964. 30-36. Lovejoy. 88 (1). Totemism.
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