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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
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 . Tony.Chapter 14: You’re Never Alone With a Brand Chapter 15: No Rest Home for the Wicked Part VI: Penguin at the Gates of Dawn Chapter 16: Cincinnati Smackdown Chapter 17: I Heart Darkness Chapter 18: Tony. Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples.
A postmodern Walter Raleigh. Andersen and Adams. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. How he got in my pyjamas.2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. We’re anthropomanes. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. one and all. 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. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. I don’t know. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. pig.1 Twenty years hence. There’s one thing I do know for certain. Chicago Bears. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. however. Apuleius. 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”. dance steps . Sydney Swans). like Tony the Tiger. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. Anthropomorphism. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. the constellations in the heavens.and duck-tails). is a universal trait. A great mascot. A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. They are the embodiment of the brand. The totem poles of native Americans. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. as are our haircuts (pony-. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. It is ancient and ineradicable. 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”. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. presumably. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise.
3 For some. it is a developmental trait.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. its ubiquity is not in doubt. For others. men on the moon. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. orbiting hairballs. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters. welfare. lungs. Needless to say. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. black swans. furthermore. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. cash cows. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. breathing. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. graphic novels (Maus. cheese moving mice. long tails. dead dogs. consciousness. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side. hive minds. which considers our earth to be a living. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. Fred Basset). tarantella).4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. dancing elephants. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. limbs and the like. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. Ninja Turtles). cartoon strips (Peanuts. storytelling squirrels and so forth. hidden hands. Fables. are routinely regarded as organisms. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks.6 Even natural scientists. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. Angry Birds). self- . fat cats. hearts. bunny hop. Far Side. Getting it right means survival. find that this is much easier said than done. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. apes in the corner office. animal spirits. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. computer games (EyePet. It helps us identify potential predators. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. 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. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers. with brains. SimAnimal. for example).7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. big hairy audacious goals. associated with childhood in particular. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. because it is in our best interest to do so. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. emotions. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. 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.9 Business organisations. getting ducks in a row. If anything.5 What’s more.(foxtrot.
. The Way of the Rat. Black Beauty. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. moreover. Winnie-the-Pooh. Who Moved My Cheese?. Meanwhile. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. is “alive inside”. managers and would-be marketing managers. There are lots of books about brands and branding. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. However. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. Wind in the Willows. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten.10 Indeed. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. 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. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar. insofar as it features a secondary world.11 Viewed in this context. Watership Down. flourish and fight for the right to party. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. to be more precise.regulating entity. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. Undergraduate students especially. flirt. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. after a fashion.13 This is a book about brand mascots. Or. Guinness. much as I hate the neologism. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. much less White Fang. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. forage. Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. The merest glance across the contemporary advertising landscape reveals that personification is everywhere apparent. such as the Quaker who adorns every packet of Quaker Oats to this very day. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. the legendary American adman. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. As such. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. both tearful and terrifying. But many of them lack pizzaz. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. Brer Rabbit. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. Squirrel Inc. say. much to the relief of consumers. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. of edutainment for marketers. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. Its ultimate aim. is to educate as well as entertain. It’s a work. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. 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. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me.
They don’t need more of anything. however. Managers feel the need to make changes. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. then. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. hive minds and what have you. new offer. they . Action-minded by inclination. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent.14 I’m conscious. for fear of being left behind. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. The go-to brand. They have to be convinced. new whatever). long before customers feel that way. In a world of identikit products and services. Persuasion is the key word here. is quintessence. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. the epitome. shake things up and refresh the brand. though. especially so). It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. The best loved brands. becoming the embodiment. Hopefully. in the mass. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. The Next Big Thing Thing. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines. better yet. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. new product. Products and services do not sell themselves.As a storyteller. To Thy Own Brand Be True. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. by and large. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. They increase output. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. however. frankly. All the way to Clone City. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. they are prone to the next big thing thing. all of which are functionally equivalent. The Customer is Always Right Wing. they extend the range. of out-and-out obstinacy. like the fifth element. pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. persuaded. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. in short. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. the exemplification of that niche. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. It is also true of principles. prosumers. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. facts and more facts. cajoled. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. are inherently conservative (raving fans. though. of antipathy. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. Consumers. The fifth P. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. Worse. not to say a “take-away” or two. The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed. if one makes a move (new feature. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. The theories. have been around for a very long time. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. Just for you.15 The Fifth P is a Q. new platform. Less is Sore. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. it is matched forthwith.
But don’t take my word for it. the brand may benefit in the long term. likewise. see Matt Williams.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. nostalgia-prone world. as was the dismayed £ sign. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. targeting the child within is no bad thing. 2010. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. Zoomorphism is the opposite. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. “Crocodile” Dundee. 23 May. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. 4 June. as academics like me are inclined to do. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. Childishness. 4. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. Richard the Lionheart). though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. 2010 Notes and References 1. “reification”. Reduced availability increases desire. Strictly speaking. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. is not to be sneezed at. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. 31. Donald Duck). The Observer. p. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. However. Dumbo.make the products more readily available. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. “Money”. there’s one other issue. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. free gifts. Oh yeah. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. Thomas the Tank Engine). Thumper. 3. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. Campaign. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. 2010. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. for instance). It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. 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.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. 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. . 2. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. Christine. p.
BTW. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. for example. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. Lions. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. Images of Organization. 2007). 2010. New York. by all accounts. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. 10. 14. . “If you want to survive. Incidentally. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. 215). See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. Oxford. 1992). 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. 15. 19. “Scientists are people too. London. This book. 23 May. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. John Berger. Journal of Consumer Research. According to Morgan Trimble. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. 2010. 6. 2005). Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. London. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. Kennedy. 2006). Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. 14. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. London. Gareth Morgan. 11. Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. 9. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. 1998. Naturally. Faces in the Clouds (OUP. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. insipid. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. 5. See. it’s not completely inaccurate either. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. 13. London. They fail to appreciate that conflict. 24 (3). don’t be ugly…be cute”. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. 12. Richard Conniff. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. London. stories are on the up and up. soporific and so forth. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. The Sunday Times. 2009). They are bland at best and boring at worst. “Smarter than you think”. 17 January. the key statement is John S. 2008) and Tony Thorne. The companies acts. the character may well go global in due course. 1993). rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. are second to none. Needless to say. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. p. nevertheless. pp. p. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. 7.4. It’s full of animal errors. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. 2005). 8. but contrary to a brand’s best interest. updated edition (Sage. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. The Observer. 343-373. Cambridge.
salt.). though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. etc.16. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. . bottled water. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. sugar and so on).
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear. gloves. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit. for one. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. She twisted and turned. She needn’t have bothered. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. “I’m not sure pink suits you. a joint venture with Versace. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror. “It’s a Silo & Roy. She had more important things on her mind. Pounds too. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. “Seriously. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. you know. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. “Hmmm. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. was almost as well known as . one-piece costumes. beakaplasty. hot to trot. figure-hugging. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. Not only were they completely unnecessary. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. Fashion. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. scrutinising her shimmering reflection.” The tease worked. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. struggling to keep her face straight. “Pelican pink is so this season.” Exasperated.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed.” Paris pouted. Silo and Roy. The fad started innocently enough. Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. Bella Adélie shook her head. Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. bending this way and that. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring.” she said. Paris. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. what do you think? Am I way cool. berets. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. The S&R logo. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand.
as she so often did. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. It’s delish. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. The sea was calm. smiled. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty.” She said it without thinking. the wind was light.” Paris warned. darling. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. Or several. the sky was blue. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior. Bella. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble. Bella. admiring her outfit. “With your genes. the temperature hovered around freezing. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young.Armani’s stylised eagle. she twirled. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. iPods to dolphins.” Paris stuttered. in truth. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. which was tantamount to tropical. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. she was a bit roomy at the rear. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. crunchy crustaceans. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. Their new season wetsuits were to die for. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. whirled. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . You should try some of this. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. simpered. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. kicked up a heel. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. “I’m sorry. and share a McFlurry with the great man. yet others complained. Paris. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. others contended. She adored McDonald’s.” Bella mumbled. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. a spoiled rich kid. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. Consequently. But Bella knew better. I’m lovin it. Mmmmm. For all her selfabsorption.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. “Mmmmm. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. you should be more careful. some said. A sob stuck in her crop. An egomaniac.” Bella replied lightly.
She did. admittedly.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. surely you know that. 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. They’re making another Madagascar movie. bar none. “Okay. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. Paris. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. On the contrary. if she was related to a leopard seal. flicking open the Happy Meal container. “Get this down your gullet. “No can do. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing.” “What.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. Casting next week. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. “Come here immediately. her uniqueness. “Don’t be a silly billy.” Bella commanded. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. much better than black. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. “What do you reckon?” she called. Gastric band. in fact. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris. Right now.” Paris exploded with laughter. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week. They looked delicious. Brown was the new black.” . Cerise was chichi. fast later. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. I’ve got something for you. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. I trust. starve now. Darling. her gene pool. Paris. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. sniggering. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. posing provocatively. A gift? Tiffany. Bella. black and more black. Paris wiped her eyes. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. Clearly. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. Okay. Be honest.” Bella said. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay. Except that pink was now in. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early.” “Oh goodie. I won’t take no for an answer. Bella. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance. flipper on hip. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. where elephant seal pups frolicked.asked. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much. followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. “Here. But Paris declined. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. Penguin porn degrades our species. You’re coming with me to the food court. like hedge-hopping rainbows.
pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy. tossed her up into the air.” “Grrrr. right?” “Le Tigre. “Grrrrrrrr. Paris hugged her mottled companion. Bella.” Filling up. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped.” Bella knew very well. oblivious to the threat. She knew that the part was hers. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway.” she said with an apologetic smirk.” “Whatever you say. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks.” Bella shouted back. as was the polar predator’s wont. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism. maybe?” “Um. hoping against hope that . The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. Panic stricken.“And the drastic gastric band. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. Bella mused. I’ll be fine. apparently.” “No. never mind “this’ll do fine”.” Paris doth protest too much. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere.” the soon-to-be superstar said. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. “Grrr. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. just in case. Penguinapping is commonplace.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. 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. Her face was a frozen mask. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines. “Tell you what. The role’s already in the bag.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. “It won’t take long. as anyone would. Grrrrr. She turned to her companion on shore. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there. you know how it is in showbiz. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind.” “Well. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages. “I always carry one. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. They’ve been performing since incubation. if not before.
It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. she fished the outfit out. Tearful. A dismembered limb. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface. indeed.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. bitten and bloody. her designer pride and joy. Bella took a closer look. There was no sign of life. To die for. Ripped. Bloodstained. Bella wept. Sodden. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. Aghast. .
No parent. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. Blamed. There were knots of kings. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. perhaps. the agglomeration was completely silent. Distraught. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . as everyone knows. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. bellowing elephant seals. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. more likely. In more ways than one. penguins of every imaginable breed. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents. in the lee of the LG glacier. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. the views were spectacular.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. belching. hushed. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Oddly. she clambered up the ice steps. clusters of chinstraps. weeping all the while. 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 could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. Reported to the penguin police force. species and stripe. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. What else could she do? It was her duty. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. Stifling a sob. Picking up speed as they descended. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. The sun was stronger. bands of blackfoots. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. where she paused to catch her breath. stumbled toward the shoreline. onto its snow-strewn top. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. and emerged huffing and puffing. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. like stones across a millpond. expectant. With a heavy heart. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. overcome with grief. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. A microphone screeched. Gentoos. nevertheless. the polar sky was immeasurably immense.
His crest.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here. S&R.. If only the same could be said for the dead-eyed demagogue’s hate-filled speech. which spewed invective on every living creature except pure-bred penguins. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. she had no alternative. Not never. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. Her presence was not appreciated. Although she was well used to hostility. “Nice outfit. husky or not. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. nodding their approval.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. They couldn’t be trusted. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. blubbery macaroni. double-dealing.multitudes. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. As the long way round would have taken forever. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. Curiously. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid. “is Dr Dogeatdog. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. Her rate of progress improved immediately. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. “This. Lookin’ good. It was magnificent. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. bitch. A few snooty royals turned to attack. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. the sapphire-studded collar. cheating layabouts. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. as the star took to the stage. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. BrandLand. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. Devils in disguise. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s. bloated. Not now. Bella ignored the crackpot celebrity’s irresponsible rant – it was the usual right wing nonsense about breeding and purity and bloodlines and ethological cleansing – while steering a course through the tightly packed penguins. the carefully clipped pelt. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. though. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. some bristled their feathers. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.. who were no-good. lying. Hesitantly.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . Until the crowd closed up. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that.
blether. ACME’s chief executive. they’d be okay. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. the worst in living memory. Charlie the Tuna. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. Worse. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. however. to be precise. Your stunning success with Happy Feet.” Dogeatdog reported. Penguins have saturated the market. The penguin brand is overexposed. overstretched. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. “ACME. the legendary Mr Kipling.” The uproar was indescribable. Penguins are out of fashion. plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. on account of the drastic economic recession. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. “Six weeks ago. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. Whatever happened. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. Emperors exploded in anger. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. bluster. Out. ACME. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. Out. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. Shouts of “ACME. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. has concluded that a cull is called for. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. Out. ACME. and that’s saying something. The kings kept their own council.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. Out. ACME. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. A 10% cull. Worse was to come from the canine. oversold. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . Over. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. Penguins have jumped the shark. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. Out. Out. ACME. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot. ACME. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations.” Screeches of feedback. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. in other words. The bubble of blarney.
“the last few years have been good for us.” Ever the showman. Why would there be? . We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. as the order’s most overexposed species. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone.” 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. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval. “Fellow penguins. a blessing in disguise. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation.” he began. Good day to you all. chinstraps and gentoos. He announced that his own macaronis. The decision is yours. by far the most populous penguin species. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. if the least high profile. “Brothers and sisters. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. We’ve got to face facts.” Le Penguin croaked. They know what needs to be done. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing. he paused for effect. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. We’ve got to get back to basics. the Toys ’R Us giraffe. However. No. No penguin pain. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. his raddled face set in serious mien. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. The multitude fell silent once more. He reported that the emperors. No. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. There were no dissenting voices. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. no penguin gain. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. Indeed. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. It was a done deal. We’ve cornered the mascot market. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. his voice a low-throated rumble.term. But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice.” The big screen went blank. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull.
Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. pitch-black ice tunnel. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. Bella stared into the chasm. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. Her parents were dead meat. The rookery nook. She had to do something. 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. Bella jumped feet first into the void. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. with murder in mind. anything. There was no time to waste. it was a death trap. 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. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. it came pretty close. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. rockhoppers. breathing heavily. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. And they’d paid a heavy price for it. The superslick surface. Petrified. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. however. their marvellously mottled appearance.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. Bella was falling behind. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. they’d taken pride in their otherness. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. Digging in her heels made no difference. she closed . She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. She had to warn them. was almost entirely frictionless. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. their difference. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. Paris’s parents would have to wait. On the contrary. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. There was only one thing for it. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear.
Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. “I’ve got you now. Our Flipper. She opened her eyes fractionally. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. They’d been rounded up already. most likely. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. Fffft. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. A petrel. was ripped to shreds. The wetsuit. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. Bella cried out. She screeched and tried to stop. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. she advanced toward the creature. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. possibly. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. And failed. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered. deserted. Excitedly. Ffft. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay.” . carooming. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. Something was moving. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. disturbed the eerie silence. A crab. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. licking his lips. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. in the community’s communal crèche. Ffft. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. Fffft. She didn’t know which way to turn. panting with exhaustion. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. They’d been taken away and taken out. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. It was completely devoid of life. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. Then stopped. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. A dirty rotten rat. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. Some nests were still warm. it wasn’t a wall. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. twitching. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. Anguished. close to her parents’ nest. yet with a mounting sense of dread. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. It stopped. By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. A large leopard seal loomed before her. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. skimming. Flippers fully extended. you slimy son of a sheathbill. but a great divide in the path. Then started again. probably. hunched behind a boulder. backing it into a corner. Ffffffft. though. she clambered over the rocky detritus. Luckily. Bella felt herself lift off…only to bounce back onto a steeply-angled schuss which whizzed her everfaster into the vertiginous ravine. Half-eaten meals of crustaceans and squid lay where they’d been disgorged. Ffffft.
my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. at your service. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. my dear. you disgusting wetback. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say.000 Twitter followers and 3. We know a . Very. Not in a good way. of course. “I haven’t finished with you yet. erect-eared. though the exact direction didn’t really matter.” Orlov said.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. The Russian steppes are thataway. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner.” “Simples?” “Simples. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. “Modesty forbids.” the penguin snarled. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. 32.” he drawled.Astonishingly. the proud possessor of 600.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. bless his cotton candy socks. trying her best to appear menacing. “How dare you address me like that. all things considered. You are feeling sleepy. Sleepy. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. dragging deeply.” “Oh.” he drawled. Taken aback.6 million hits on my homepage. “Sleepy. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. My catchphrase is Simples. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube. sharp-faced. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. I am the face of a price comparison website. but I am big in Britain and Russia and.000 Facebook friends. “You.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. a radio talk-show compère. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. Very. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. London’s over there somewhere. I think you have. Sleepy.” Bella was at a loss. 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.” he sighed. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year. I don’t know who you are. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. you understand. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. “Aleksandr Orlov. Towering head and shoulders above her. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie.” Bella was baffled. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past.
she was first in line for the chop. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. much less dun-coloured rodents. where she’d left it. “since you put it like that. who was huge back in the days before YouTube. They looked resolute. 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. avian classes. However. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. “I don’t think so. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based.” But Bella beat him to it. “Simples. Hit singles. meerkat. He knows the score. if you must know.” Bella started to step aside.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. But I prefer not to mix with the.” With a glottal gabble. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. Flat Eric’s been there.” “Mmmmm. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME. Advertising awards.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. Two species are better than one. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. The S&R wetsuit lay. a sock puppet. not to say subliminal advertising. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave.thing or two about hypnotism. Not so Simples now. We meerkats are social animals.” He made to go.” “I see. It’s a life-long learning. Nor did Orlov. Flippers on hips. He looked around. “Well.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. “Flat Eric. ripped and ragged. Enormous name recognition. “He was a sort of soft toy. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. “Suit yourself.” Bella shook her head. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other. As the only mottled penguin in residence.” He winked.” he said. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. um. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. “Sorry.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. as if taking in the cave for the first time. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. 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. “Too late. right beside the isabelline refuge. I’m looking for someone. she blocked his path. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. They’re here. . other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. perhaps we could pool our resources. he dropped off the grid.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
And bickering amongst themselves. scurrying. There was no escape. Every second was precious. Indomitable. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. uncompromising. They paused at the mouth of the cave. Bella shook her head. although the fit was tight. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. “Well. don’t you know. scampering. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. searching for the ice.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. tear. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride. determined. blocking out the bright sunlight. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. Orlov seized the moment. I can’t believe it’s not butter. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. you flat-footed fool. There was no way those monsters could follow. “Meerkats. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. clawing like crazy. . who stopped again. they said. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. She could hear them discussing their strategy. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. stab.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. adélies are much more petite than emperors. suspecting a trap. Their bulk. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. There’s still a bit of discrimination. as he excavated ever-faster. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. ever-upward. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. The old enmities are behind us. but nothing like it used to be. he was off. mercifully. “Let’s go. We didn’t think we needed it any more. She struggled to keep up.and snow-filled shaft. Bella snuggled in behind him and.
Their feet sank in with a hiss. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. sometime in the middle of April. “dandies discard. Stand-ins. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch. They had a lot of reshoots too. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . He fell into step beside Bella. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive.” With a heavy sigh.” Agitated. frankly. You have a lot in common. “Forgive me. “Sundown?” she scoffed. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. “Impossible. The snow squeaked as they walked. but ACME is not on my agenda. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. if you’ve had enough for one day. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. then it’s midnight through September. My routine is sacrosanct. dropping down on all fours.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. Gallantly. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. dashing forward. I’ll accompany you for a little while. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators. digging. my dear. You’ll have a lot to talk about. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. The place was deserted. “When danger calls. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. Simples. It must be adhered to rigorously. apparently. Orlov scampered alongside. darting back. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. The man’s a slave driver. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. allegedly. The reshoots were ridiculous. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. claymation models. However.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. you know. Orlov just kept digging. They’re big girl’s blouses. Or earshot. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. body doubles. They never let anyone forget it.” Bella snorted. not a shearwater in sight. “Oh. The thin crust gave way from time to time. digging. through the worst of the winter. digging.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. They march for months on end. he spluttered. They’re famous for it. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. Pity.” he observed. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. even more gallantly. though. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. “The rookery’s thataway. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. not a penguin.” Chastened for the moment. not a skua. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. Orlov said nothing. blocking her path. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. Enjoy the twilight while you can.
Let me know how you get on.” Louis meowed throatily. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was.” Bella said. Smaller than a snow leopard. preventing further progress. Do you believe me now.” Orlov inveigled. “Yes. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric.” he purred. A wild cat. On me. I’m out of here.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. You mocked the master.” “My paws were cold. the meerkat refused to budge. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. Poleaxed. fast asleep. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. still with snow under the nails. 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. Smirking. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. A black dot was coming towards them. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. bigger than a mangy moggy. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. Astounded. “It was because it didn’t work. You’re a minx. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. that is. It works on everyone. sleepy. “What’s that?” he said. that’s what you are. unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. pointing into the distance. at your service. perhaps. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off. “Explain yourself. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. It was feline. so far from home. He rose up on his hind legs. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. Let’s wake him. snoring loudly. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed.” She made to move on. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. But you didn’t believe me.” Bella apologised. “The bear is completely under my power. “I like a bird with spirit. they ploughed on. Bravely. apart from a slight headache.” “The simples minded. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. Minxes and lynxes . “Louis the Lynx. I think you’re my kind of penguin. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. Orlov stopped suddenly. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. “I told you I could do it. Chins tucked in. Bounding towards them at top speed.
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
Even his chortle was charming. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to.territories. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. They make movies about mice that speak. “How come you know so much about marketing. A sexy smelly shampoo.” Bella quipped. “Anthropomorphism. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. so selling to them is the next natural step. lions that sing show tunes. Louis laughed out loud. since Axe carries connotations of execution. Anything after.” “Hmmmm. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. Plus. crows that crack jokes. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. putting poor critters down. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. Ask yourself. desire. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. We’re built on a bubble of belief. which was encyclopaedic as far as it went.” “Hey. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. anyhow?” “Simples. don’t you. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. the bigger and nastier the better. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. I read Wikipedia incessantly. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. with a grin. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. red. Lurchers. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. not that there’s much else to admire. moreover.” Orlov boasted. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. But she wasn’t quick enough. he was a busted flush. hope. Lhasa Apsos and the like. “don’t knock it. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. “Correct. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. moreover. big-eared baby elephants that can fly. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. . while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. extermination. as Neolithic cave art attests. wildlife programmes in particular. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. sensing a stay of Axecution. They are inclined to see themselves in other species.” Louis chuckled. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. my dear boy. You test the things on animals. advertising. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. adélies. When you put it like that. Anything before B he was unbeatable.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins.” Louis mused. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. a brand in a highly competitive market. Orlov lit up.” Orlov smiled. Louis asked. I can see the campaign now.
venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. Eyes drooping. Bella felt sleepy. the Romanovs. Bella and Louis said nothing. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. Or a meow meow overdose. Feathers? . well. Louis. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. perhaps. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about.” he said. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Has been for years and years. 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.What do they put into their toiletries. The earth quaked. His eyesight is not what it was. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. though. What wild accusations.” “You suggested no such thing. “Actually. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. like a karaoke Krakatoa. the hillock erupted. Or Freudian psychosis. scratching occasionally. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. Their shelter. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. she wondered. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy.” Orlov observed dryly. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. I couldn’t shake him off. “it was all a mistake. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind. With an almighty roar. He thinks I’m the fox. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. I wanted to rouse it. “Yes. She tried to resist. the moraine started moving. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. A joint venture.” Louis was at a loss. Mmmmm. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. she looked around. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. You tried to run off.” The group descended into grumpy silence.” Orlov said testily. He’s not best pleased. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. understandably. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. Bella wondered. Penguins pong pretty bad.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. cruel culling.
you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. it isn’t.” “Zat is impossible. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and. as for Andersen. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other.” Bristling. He knew his Ali Baba too and. Hans Christian.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. Unscented. “Zis is not BrandLand. 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.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. uh. “Zat is so. no less. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD.” Louis said. Flipper.” “Zat I am. while hopping from foot to foot.” “So. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr.” “No. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. they might even end up where they wanted to be. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. Having watched the negotiations in silence. Bella chanced her arm. flapped them vigorously. Lord of ze skies. “Zat I can. Everyone knows zat. “We have three wishes. Acquaintance of Ali Baba.” the creature conceded. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. if it’s not out of your way. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. none of which are tested on ze animals. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics. Encouraged. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner. “But this is BrandLand.” Bella added. Not only were they getting somewhere. rather. with a smirk.” Gallic to its wingtips.” the Roc crowed. s’il vous plait. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan. as well as Aesop. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. “Well. face creams.” Orlov insisted. “SoHo. Companion to Marco Polo.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band. Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. “Three wishes. “How far can you take us. Ally of Aladdin. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador. isn’t it?” he said. “I am Roc. with poststructuralist precision. Zis .” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and.
“We’ll make our own way from there.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding. as yet untouched by civilisation.” . a contiguous territory.” Orlov commanded. Zis. “is Adarctica.” “D’Accord.is a mere dominion.” he sniffed.
lay spread-eagled beneath them.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. lake-dappled lowland. . Back-beating furiously. The meerkat glared at him. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder.” “According to ancient myth and legend. it flapped once or twice. rising thermals. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. the trio was taken by the scenic route. aerobatics. and advertisers don’t either. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. Having read up on aeronautics. as her mother often observed. Orlov. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. don’t travel claw class.” “Yeah. Many hours later. Within a few minutes. eventually. by contrast. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. taking in the scene. BrandLand. Beckoning. snow-capped mountain ranges.” Louis said. then took off vertically. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. Isabellines can’t be choosers. Wings fully extended. “If it offers us a choice of seating. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. in all its magnificence. They dismounted shakily. heading north. inviting. Clinging on for grim life. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. The storm-tossed. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. And then some. into the eye of the snowstorm. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. the bird-borne party was above the storm. A driving tail wind. Far from being dropped from a very great height. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. sat calmly. as its tagline proclaimed. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. captivating. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. With a low rumble of discontent. with a disbelieving look. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. And we’re not talking Dumbos. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. then invited the threesome to mount. he knew there was nothing to fear. never mind jumbo jets.
now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. the Lacoste crocodile. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street.” Bella snapped. In the far distance. My contract is complete. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district.” Louis enthused. the stomping ground of Snap. pronto. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone. then took to the air. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. Pop and similar elfish creatures. We’ve two more to play with. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region.” it said. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. penguin. Be veri. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned.” Orlov. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. “Steer clear of ze jungle. 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. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger.” the Roc said disdainfully.” Conciliatory though it was.An acknowledged expert in domain names. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. and make Mr Kipling see sense. The threesome looked up expectantly. surely. reportedly. “And we’re not on vacation. disconcertingly. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. we might learn much along the way. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. directly ahead. One wish per passenger. the local authority. find ACME ASAP. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. swirling. PDQ. wondering which territory to try first.” the big bird boomed. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. “Am I free to go. We might learn much from big biomass brands. “A word of advice. . a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die.” “This isn’t a theme park. We’ve only had one wish. The Roc refused to elaborate. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino. veri careful.” With that. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. USA. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. Crackle.” “Can’t you count. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. Our task is to get to Madhattan. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone.
Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. a frisky Ferrari broke free. birch-fringed. the My Little Pony palominos. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. A blissful. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. though. stream-silvered dell lay below her. But when she crested the rise. you twat.“The nerve of it. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. cedar. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce.” A row erupted. flakiest chocolate”. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Bella left them to it. Not only was he a self-important meerkat. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. The air was noticeably warmer here. Every so often. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. joined the others on their high country hike. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. Orlov. Perplexed. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. . shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. steaming waterfalls. interspersed with red-berried rowans. like an Alpine Shangri-la. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. “Hands that do dishes”. “I may be mistaken. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland.” Bella muttered. She badly needed a breather. Jingles rather. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. larch and juniper. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. “Only the crumbliest. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. after being frozen in flight. And that’s her smiling flock. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. Dangerous though it was. tussock-strewn. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. That’s what Paris once told me. Especially for a penguin. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. arrogance and absence of brand sense. she was too astounded to rest.” the meerkat said. “A Mars a day”. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations.” “Cardboard cut-outs. plaidshirted. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. Bella stumbled on several occasions. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. Each accused the other of ignorance. Bella recognised some of the tunes. Louis scampered after her. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. making a vast grassy corral. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. Not designed for yomping through pastureland.
Duke’s voice was deep. with an anxious expression. The bad folks don’t call me at all. son. “Don’t worry. “At your service. “Village people?” Louis echoed. “Mr Marlboro.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. where men are men. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. Apart from an occasional wheeze. Big Sky.” The older cowboy. the wide. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. Much as the trio loved the mountains.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. Welcome to God’s own country. The legend introduced his pardner. Big Satisfaction. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement. It bespoke Big Country. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual. The good folks around here call me Duke. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. Bella opted for a formal greeting. Whatever he was selling. the bracing air. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. There was no need to explain. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. Big Emphysema. as were her awe-struck associates. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. an urban cess pit was their priority. let alone love. where the village people would point them in the right direction. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. ma’am.” . The advertising icon was bemused. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. wide west. was impressed. Bella was buying. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. Agog. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. Big Brand Equity. Generously. Even Orlov. they’re not axe-murderers. He had heard of ACME. sonorous and compelling. but paid city slickers no heed. I presume.She signalled for the others to join her. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. Big Flavour. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. of course. with only cows and cowpokes for company. tilted back his hat and grinned. no siree. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. not when there’s a lariat to hand.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
If they started up “Macho Man”. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled. traffic cops. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. It was originally targeted at female smokers. The rest is history. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. And as for “In the Navy”.” Orlov stage whispered. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. might be more than even he could handle. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. the cowboy archetype was adopted.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. But the tat was an accident. and Viagra began as a remedy for angina – not that Duke needed the little blue suckers more than four times per week – so too the Marlboro brand was a lucky break. he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. “Though if anyone asks. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. “Yes. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. as did the manicured fields. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. As the party progressed down dale. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. “Never had. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. the Bon Ami chicken. Marlboro Country was invented and.” In ordinary circumstances. he’d join in the chorus. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. of all things. of all things. Louis might have agreed with the rodent.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. As things stood.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in. plus several infuriating false starts. on account of the filter tip. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. never will. After a fraught brainstorming session. A camp camp containing red Indians.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. Modest to a fault. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. round rivulet and through thicket. that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. construction workers and able-bodied seamen.
Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. but Orlov wasn’t convinced. edge trimmers. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. to Louis’s annoyance. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses.. Smelt of chewing tobacco. “Wonder what’s eating them. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. “Hmmph. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. a time-worn market cross. “What a guy. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet.” Bella said wryly. the everenergetic Red Bull. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. abandoning lawnmowers. If there was one thing the meerkat hated.the Anchor butter cows. somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. arhar. wished them well in their quest for ACME. Hamlet half a mile. He glared at his feline acquaintance. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries. However. where Aflac ducks. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. he galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. garden path..” Bella sighed. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. Then. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. garden hoses. mounting up. redundantly. saloon bars. the Bisto gravy family. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. the Bull Durham bull. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. wide and handsome cognates. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding.” Louis observed. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. He had a peri-peri in every port. watering cans. as the company advanced into Hamlet. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. overhanging eves. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. 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. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. Ar-har. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. pruning shears. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. which looked the worse for wear. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. it added. Swan matches and . Coors Country and their high. with the Kid by his side. it said. A pretty parish church.
was unsettlingly absent. “You must be Gaffer.” “Aye. granite inglenook. “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. mine host. wearing blue overalls. Penguins and Tetley go way back. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. polished horse brasses. The leader. the consummate cuppa-maker.” Bashful as ever. The usual array of barroom grotesques. “And you must be Maurice.” The tea folk tittered. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor.” she continued. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. Undaunted. or whatever it is they do down there. Still nothing. “We prefer to work with Clubs. A line of local yokels. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. old chap. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. a hogshead of mead. I’d recognise you anywhere. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. one with a sharp carving knife. stepped forward. if there’s naught else on tap. they followed him into the homely hostelry. “are Sydney. You look fantastic. a peppery little man with a self-important air. slippers! – stood between them and the door. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. All were empty. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. brass-banded pumps. Clarence. as sheepish grins started to appear. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. “And you. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. a firkin of gassy French lager. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer. lass. They waited for a few minutes.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight.” the curmudgeon grunted. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. lad. Archie. Or best bitter. simple Sydney smiled shyly.” she went on. which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. The place was deserted.” she concluded triumphantly. Nothing. Or gassy lager.” Bella said. my good fellow. that were a long time ago. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. however.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked. quacked and chirruped incontinently. “We’ve b-b-been…” . “You’re Gordon.
Tips is a Unilever brand. We liked the T-birds. brand animals like us. “Tetley. “Tbirds were P. A lot. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s.” . “Assam.G. as did Gordon with his andiron. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. Lyons.” “That’s torn it. Sydney shuffled his feet. But. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. then glared at his gang. lass. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder.” “Tannin poisoning.G. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. Tips people.” he growled. Lipton. He met the T-birds once. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words.But he was cut off by Gaffer. Bushells. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon. the T-birds. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose.” Bella gulped audibly. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. brandishing their blunt instruments. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely.G. Could put a word in for them. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Because P. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. Lever lover? Menacingly. along with Brooke Bond. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm.G. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. “We’ve been on holiday. yes.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands. The tea folk advanced. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. Assholes.” Gaffer spat. reminding them who’s boss. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit.” Orlov whispered. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. P. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. Psychosis is not uncommon. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs. I suspect. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. ominously.G. Tips. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business.” Louis groaned. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders.
The air was chilly. sycamore. these were big trees. “An old trick. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences. Far from the madding firs. deciduous trees. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. fighting on price. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. It tasted delicious too. poplar. Coffee culture’s king. oak. They’d have to stop soon. “It was nothing.G. beech. The glory days of P. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions.” “Yes.” Bella smiled modestly. unawares. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing.” “No.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking.” Bella had said. she decided it would do for the night.” Louis finally said. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. “The reason you didn’t know about it.” . Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. “Now push off the pair of you. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. like most FMCGs. ferret. walnut. “Look. Night was falling. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. heavy trees. no. A stroke of genius.G. proper trees like hornbeam. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. you can bicker without me. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. They’ve reverted to commodities.” Bella said. Tea brands are identical nowadays. you two. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. Defeated. After looking around and sniffing the air.” Orlov snarled. and arsehole begins with A. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. a copycat called Tim Tam. elm. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. Tips. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. “It was brilliant. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. unobtrusively. There’s nothing to choose between them. I’m amazed they fell for it.” Louis didn’t mince his words. Tea’s time is up. insidiously. lime.” Orlov interrupted.
Immediately adjacent to the path. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. scrutinising the strangers. lay languidly beneath it. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix. A figure was flitting through the trees. the Trix rabbit. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. for once. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall.” Orlov said with atypical glee. Louis was in his element. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. before evaporating into the undergrowth. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. Watching the frolicking creatures. her parents.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. a fire was crackling in the glade and. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. the Unibank unicorn. linnets and the like. pipits. she surmised. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. Scania’s and Saab’s.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. The next day saw an early start. “there’s Snap. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. On picking herself up for the fifth time. In a most unladylike manner.” Louis laughed. A singularly sultry rabbit. Swiftly followed by another. wearing a skintight yellow dress. looked over and waved affably. when something caught her eye. Vauxhall’s.” “I’m just glad they let us go. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. exhausted. Crackle and Pop. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment. flitting in. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. the Schnuffel rabbit. the Glenfiddich stag. she was struck by the absence of bird song.Chastened. They made good progress through the forest. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. the Kirin dragon. And another. she offered a square to Louis. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. the Nesquik bunny. Smiling. out and around the trees. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. most likely. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. but it was pleasant all the same.” Orlov added. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. Keebler’s elves also showed up. with an irresistible . rotten logs. only to find herself drifting off. only to disappear when anyone came too close. “Actually. Before long. Not this one. “Look. the Hartford elk.” With a sigh of contentment. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems.
my. all growling. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. Bella followed suit. polecat. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. all ponderous.” The lynx laughed in his face. all hulking.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes.” she smouldered. They hunched together biting their tongues. “Don’t fall for it.” Bella butted in. since you ask. as if to reset her audio receptors. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. sotto voce.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. famously omnivorous creatures. “Let me guess. Louis. mainly nocturnal. and not a little need for nourishment. I can see that.” Orlov hissed. they roused Louis who woke . A big brown bear lumbered past. Bella bided her time.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. Get out of my way. trying not to breathe. she’s cursed. the oldest trick in the book. Daddy’s coming baby. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second. Dark Temptation. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. “Arctophily. “Aeaea. peered around myopically. “No. A for Argonauts. It’s a trick. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. no. “Quick. Rrrrrrrr. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. they don’t actually hibernate. However. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. then a third. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. sensing Bella’s unease.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush.” she said. An unearthly hush descended. which was still rustling. then a fourth. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. She’s Circe. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. And then some. Must hide. “Something smells good around here. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. tongue hanging out. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. clicked his foreclaws.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. Bravely.” “Yes. sniffed the air. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. “My. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. Rrrrrrrrrrr. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. Together. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. It paused for a second. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. Fancy a bite. “What’s up?” Orlov asked. I’m doing him a favour. A second bear followed. Bella. actually. Well. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. “they’re solitary creatures too. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. Quick. then shuffled on. However. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. then a steady stream.” In normal circumstances. This doesn’t look good. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. Quick.
It must have been the biggest bear-fest. brown bears. It was worse than bear baiting. He died with his Wellington boots on. meanwhile. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. Appallingly. Hamm’s beer bear. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. the biggest bearstettford in living memory. small bears. Even Pudsey. the Hofmeister bear. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. before a head shot finished him off. wasn’t spared by the assassins. firing indiscriminately. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. SuperTed was also in attendance. the easyJet bear. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. Smokey. The brand bears didn’t stand a chance.” hers replied. fierce bears. Bearzookas. “has left the building. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat. Cresta lemonade bear. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. Big bears. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. Yogi bear. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. They didn’t get very far. black bears. The massacre was relentless. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. begged on his knees for mercy. SuperTed. Bundaberg rum bear. In fact. The fat bastard. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. “They’ll be asleep before long. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. Labatt’s blue bear. “The bear. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. the iconic US Forest Service bear. Pipes were smoked. a snivelling wimp at heart. Paddington was a sitting duck. friendly bears. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. “We should be able to get away then. Carried back to the ice floe. as were Pudsey bear. Larynges lubricated. was filling up with bears. Biffo the bear. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. Only Gulliver. the biggest jambearee. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity.” Pooh simpered. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. George. BearPG rifles. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing.” The meerkat spoke too soon. the bears burst into song. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. Boo Boo bear. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. The dell. Paddington bear.” Hiding in the wounded tree. the easyJet bear. and a veritable host of celebrity bears.” his said. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. cans included. “Let’s get out of here. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. inevitably. .” Orlov murmured. “Told you so. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. At least they seemed civilised about it. Charmin paper towels bear.with a blissful smile on his face. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. Gulliver. peeping out a knothole. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. whose charitable work is second to none.
showed any sense of self-preservation. Supported by Charmin and Cresta. In so doing. They raised their weapons as one. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees. The dirty deed was done. A second troop of baby-faced. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell. he sealed the fate of his comrades. . There was no sign of Winnie.
it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. frozen in its death throes. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. listening intently for any indication of military activity. sensible as ever. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. Bloodstains. stealthily. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. Frantically. Suddenly. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. A Lynx card range made sense. paw-prints. failing to focus on the salient facts. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. the better. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable.” Louis answered dully.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. “There’s nothing we can do here. Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. .” They knew she was right. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays. That’s the frightening thing. On returning to the path several hours later. you see. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche. But drew a blank. Very profitable business.” Bella said. “Greeting cards. It doesn’t bear thinking about.” Orlov said calmly.” “Okay. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. They pushed on slowly. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones.” Louis wept. jolted out of his rambling account. such was the bloodletting. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. “I know who did this. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. Cautiously. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances.” Louis groaned.” “Explain.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. the baby-faced ones. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. man” before breathing his last. Great mark-ups. tears streaming down his ashen face. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing. They kept going. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. Led by Tatty Teddy. “Greeting cards. We talked joint ventures with them all.” Orlov ordered. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. you say?” “Yes. Heavy shadows fell across the path. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. most with decades of distinguished service. steadily. the trio forged ahead. Hallmark’s main rival. Night was falling. Working together. if only to work out what they were up against. Me-to-You they’re called. A chill was in the air.
” he said. But shelter found them. Until the rain arrived. Invizimals. “That’s no phantasm. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. Pet Society. with witching hour approaching. deodorant. often in the prime of life. familiars. above the sodden forest floor. Most have been axed ruthlessly. Eyepet. bath salts and what have you. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. They’re nothing to be afraid of. “Think about it.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. “I know what they are. all basalt battlements and turreted towers. They struggled along. 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. if anything – just that fetches.” Louis said. They searched for shelter. Bella was exhausted before long. “I think I know what this place is. Second Life players. The first brand character dates from 1877. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. The path soon turned into a slough. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance.” Bella was incredulous. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. At night. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. Country Story. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. They’re avatars.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night.” Orlov answered with equanimity. slipping and sliding and slithering. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well. We have nothing to worry about. High on a crag. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. Never the best of hikers. according to recent news reports. “Potentially big market for personal care products. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. they made reasonable progress.” . I don’t like the look of them. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm. It’s simples. They’re breakfast cereal characters. There must be lots of scope for shampoo.” Louis said. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. Orlov laughed. Thousands of critters have been created since. cold and cutting.” “Looks pretty scary to me. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. full and ominous. Surely some of them are still with us. never mind feline chat-up lines. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. sat a glowering gothic castle. which stopped them in their tracks. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns. they opted for the latter. They’re called Furries. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. teeth chattering.” Louis said. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. no. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province.
The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey.” Louis ventured. “Tell them about the honey bunny. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. much less amused. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. Bella was too tired to care. as the drawbridge fell. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. the portcullis rose. Mummy”. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. “Mummy. was positively cadaverous. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. The latter included Dumbo. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. though. The travellers looked at each other. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment.Orlov was not convinced. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”. His cavernous smile. always on the creepy side of welcoming. Be careful what you say. nor were Piglet. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. Tigger.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors.” it shrieked. After licking his lips with relish. Mr Lynx. 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. It’s Mummy. shields. mead and beeswax markets. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. lances.” the creature rasped. “Mummy. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. head tilted back. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. lined with oil paintings. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches.” Pooh wasn’t the problem. Winnie was nowhere to be seen. swords and stuffed animal heads. By then it was too late to retreat. Bizarrely. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. spread out on a table before him. “I’m waiting. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. But not the once and future Honey Monster. wondering what he was waiting for. Bagheera. He looked enormously pleased with himself. Eyes rolling like lottery balls. . Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. She had second thoughts. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. We didn’t see anything. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. however. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants.
There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. As if by magic. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM.” “We’re doomed. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. like himself.” “Keep your voices down.” Orlov hissed. The next morning. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. it was the least he could do. Lucky for you ACME’s within it.” Louis chipped in. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. pausing to point out the bee laboratory. Otherwise. “There’s no honey in Penguins. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. psychological or otherwise. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan.” “Lucky for us. mummy!” they shouted in unison.” she murmured. Apparently. When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . Let’s keep it that way. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes.” Bella was not amused. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. so too slogans calm the savage brand. Walls have ears. we’ll never get to ACME. He doesn’t know what we know. as the reality of their situation hit home. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly.Shaken to the core. he showed the threesome around his stately home.” Orlov said. “It’s simples. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. we’re history. “All together now. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. after breakfast.” Bella gloomed. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. Doom was unaccountably delayed. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. hence the bee laboratories. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders.” She looked at Orlov coldly. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. Just as music calms the savage breast. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. “Tell them about the honey. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions. “Or he’ll overhear us. So it proved on this occasion. As every brand manager knows. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest.
” Orlov observed. “I thought honey was a natural laxative. innocently. “Not that kind of pooh.” the Honey Monster said. without smiling. .Character Mediation Enterprise. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. air-conditioned cabin. golden.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. was pretty impressive. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. What there was. tree stumps. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. fences. stood before them wagging its tail. A gigantic silver Greyhound. offering little by way of illumination. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. The growling stopped. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase. raising its paws and barking excitedly. though. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. There was no sign of Cerberus. sleek and in perfect physical condition. rivulets. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes.” Legend the unicorn announced. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces. where it charged between the trees. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. A perfect day was in prospect. glorious. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. railings. Increasingly alarmed. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. Peanuts. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. All of a sudden. circling steeply upwards. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. Bella. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. giving way to the rich arable farmland . strapped them in securely and. “Don’t be afraid. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. It was replaced by frantic barking. bounding over fallen logs. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. saplings. Luckily. while straining on its leash. the brand band exchanged wary glances. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. leaping. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. long. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. dodging. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. They should buy us some time.” Orlov reassured his companions. gratifying. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark.
An open air charity concert. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. infuriated by his insensitivity. “The Penguin Café Orchestra. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. Snoop Dogg. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. Before long. Wolfmother. before dashing off again in the direction it came. Orlov snorted. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building.” Bella gasped. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. Then we can foxtrot. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). FAO Schwarz. pointing at the billboard. After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. Fleet Foxes.” Orlov added. Noah and the Whale.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. pleasure later. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. Danger Mouse. Doves. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. Literally. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States. if not quite the bees’ knees. Central Park Zoo. Bat for Lashes. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. The line up included Gorillaz. Grizzly Bear. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. Louis sulked. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. Market leader in Britain he may have been. Bella stared daggers at Orlov. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. As ever. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. rubbing salt into the wound. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Eventually. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. “ACME is top of our agenda. the new Eagles.” “Maybe we should check it out. bunny hop.” Bella noted. better yet. Followed by Flat Eric. Whitesnake.” Squelched. Seal. . the Natural History Museum. Wild Beasts. Seven minutes later. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. their mode of conveyance was. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate. “I thought they’d broken up. amongst many others. Scorpions.” Louis said casually. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. Glinting on the horizon. Pet Shop Boys. He was the Robbie Williams of male grooming requisites – when he so wanted to be SuBo – but being cruelly reminded of his nonentity was uncalled for. Sheryl Crow. “Business first. “Must be a homing greyhound. Mastodon.
Marketing gives it meaning. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable. as if a performance was about to begin. Oh. druggies. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers.” Bella said.” he said. just like you said. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. yelling at one another. hookers. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. Forty-second Street was equally empty. 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. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. though. was nowhere to be seen. Squeeze This. while stuffing their faces with fast food. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. Aleksandr. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. indicated that the place was operational. If we go. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. shoving. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. dirty. devoid of hope and authenticity. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. I’m sorry. in as cutting a way as he could manage.” “Why are there no humans.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. panhandlers. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River.” . many of which strobed intermittently. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. as they advanced towards Timex Square. A chill wind whistled in from the east. they go. buskers. Surely everyone knows that. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. Horribly disfigured. caught in the inter-building eddies. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. squalid. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. yakking. “The real world is breaking through. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. security guards. But survivors all the same. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. The human world is a horrible place. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. perhaps. animal brands especially. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. Mutant maybe. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. “But surely. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. That’s what I think. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. “I think I know what’s happening here. you never got as far as B.
“Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. stunned by the update. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. an irresistible urge to spend. “Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. Led by Cheeka. gawping out of towners and ticket touts for shows that were so far off. the baying mob disappeared down Brandway in the general direction of Macy’s. Timex Square was an empty. 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 stated. Monkey from Sky TV. spend. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. Luckily. it added. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. off. 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. .No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. unwelcoming place. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe.” Louis gasped. the Dulux sheepdog. spend. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. then get the Dell out of here. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey. it went on. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. lynx and meerkat in their midst. “Well. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers.” Orlov exclaimed.” Orlov took off. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. “Holy Doughboy. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice.” “Gotcha. “Bloody Hellman’s. Devoid of honking yellow cabs.” Bella groaned. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron.com critter. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. Another followed. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza. horse-mounted traffic cops. off. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone.” Louis said. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. “Well. Then another. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated.
while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. ready for fisticuffs. Patrolling down 42nd Street. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. Louis looked down at him. We don’t have much time. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. Scampering ahead in his stop. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. Quick. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. stand up. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. Bella looked at Louis.” he said curtly. Growling. followed by “Louis.” .” Infuriated. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. I thought you’d been here before” strop. “For your information. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. “What’s the address? Quick. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. flapping idly in the breeze. getting more infuriated by the second. eyes locked. no doubt. Even in Madhattan.” Louis snapped. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. look left.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.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. 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. It was a brand free zone. Orlov backed down. They stood snout to snout. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. “Wait for us.” Orlov was fit to be tied. breathing heavily.” Impatient as always. Louis turned to Bella. “Madison Avenue’s another block over. “No signal. drop down. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. Having stared the meerkat out. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture. The meerkat glared at them both. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. Fox Head’s eponymous renard. The fashion week tents were still standing. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. look right. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. ferret. But Louis cut him off. while they were in mortal danger. start. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. “Calm down. “Let me handle this. Smirking. look round again manner.
Louis held her back. Nothing. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. will you. Rrrrrrrrr. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster.” He switched off his iPaw. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. He was a Panther man himself. “Look.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. Racoon. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. He’d clicked through from Google Street View. feeling edgier by the second. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. not to say incredulity. did you?” Bella shouted. The Young and Rubicund building. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. officiating bodies like ACME.” Bella moaned. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite. “It’s number 285. Monkey. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . “Let him go. “It doesn’t say. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. She was sure of it. Bella made to follow. “World Wide Webster. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape.” Louis sighed.” The meerkat was off like a shot.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. “designed to justify cost cutting. Camel. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage.” The connection took forever. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. “Just get Google. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. Critters he called them.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. It was her imagination. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. He’s barking up the wrong office block. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. “I don’t believe it. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her. 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. creativity evaporates. innovation follows. originality disappears. down-sizing. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. Once production goes.” Bella had no time for legends. the brains behind the Smash Martians. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. As included. The building was just a couple of blocks away. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. Panther. research. Something or someone was watching them. The stress of the quest.” “What?” Bella retorted. believe me. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. Adidas. publicity.” “Read that in Wikipedia. in a downtown direction. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. design.
A couple of minutes later. The locked ACME offices. Aleksandr. With a heave. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. arm in arm. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper.” “Oh.us the journey. Arm & Hammer toothpaste. They especially hate cute critters. Startled. let alone embarrassed. all disconcertingly empty. Fearing another tantrum. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. Exactly. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. only with account managers and art directors. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. reason-why. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. He had a theory. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. they strolled down to 285. advertising characters. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. The whole place was completely empty. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. no winners or losers. Yes.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. “Corleone the copywriter. subtlety.” Louis said laconically. “Yes. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. a bit like The Sopranos. Nodding enthusiastically. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. The vacated Y&R floors. bothered. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. It too was devoid of life. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks. brand mascots. Orlov missed the sarcasm. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. Hard sellers hate whimsy. Although they look laid back. their Old Glories unfurled. the Russian emerged from the elevator. They passed a Starbucks. stiff and straining in the breeze. extremely agitated. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters.” Far from being crestfallen. “We know. hot. Bella refused to take the bet. jingles. There was no brand war. mouth agape. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. The big city was distorting his thinking. though that may have been the art directors’ department. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. isabellines especially. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. he looked around. a strop and sulk situation.” Louis let her vent.” Louis yawned. The wreckage all around. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. A conspiracy theory. Chuckling. The curt note on the door. as did his equally dumbfounded .
He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. the former sliding on the marble. Then a third. 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. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. then charged at the barrier together. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. the trio dashed up East 40th Street. Bella and Louis did likewise. then another. Eyes glassy and unseeing. round. thump. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. then another. thump. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. He pushed again. Arms outstretched. jumping to his feet.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. An earsplitting alarm went off. Frantic. Then a fourth. the three of them backed up several paces. the zombie was momentarily confused. Nada. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. It suddenly shattered. Thump. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. Glancing round as he ran. It was locked. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. Its catatonic associates followed suit. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. Thump. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage.” Bella leapt out of the banquette. and pushed on the side door. There was no time to lose.” Louis yelled. “lock the revolving door.” he added. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. thump. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. The door burst open. out. however. “Quick. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. the latter sprinting on all fours. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. A crack appeared in the pane. The alarm alerted the undead. thump. They spilled into the street.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. Louis lost the head. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. but alive he most certainly wasn’t.” Bella urged. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. They picked themselves up. Caught betwixt and between. thump. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. Almost. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. Without pausing to dust themselves down. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. “Lucky I checked out the building.companions. Nothing. thump. . like a fire tender on emergency call.
This way. This way. in the direction of Brand Central Station.But the quarry was too quick for them. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper.” Bella said. no. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. With no realistic alternative. where they paused to catch their collective breath. No surrender. Bella. They’re milkshakes. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries. “No. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. “We’re trapped. 40th . They’re wusses.” Orlov said to himself. “Let’s stand and fight. “I think there’s a food court in that place. They’re softies. with an unrepeatable oath. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown.” He galloped up Park Avenue. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue.
“How can you be so sure?” . “But downtown’s not a good move. which ordinarily copes with 150. “Never meet your heroes. right Louis?” “Right. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo.” Louis laughed.” “Yes. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. Giggling. looking anxiously behind them.” Bella deadpanned. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. “Yes.000 passengers per day.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. holding her side. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. “A good brand is hard to find. “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days. those McTofus are really something.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble. the lynx tried to sympathise. “Stitch.” Suppressing a smile. “Don’t bet on it. “Different muscle groups. “Lynxes excepted.” she added. “Okay guys. But none of them are McDonald’s. As Bella. you know. 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.” Orlov said. He won’t be there anyway.” he commiserated. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors. winking at the other half of his double act.” Louis continued.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. “I can swim for hours. Sniggering to start. “That’s where Flat Eric lives. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump.” Orlov said. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth.” Bella panted. Too worked up to worry. “I’m starving after all that exercise. by way of explanation. face contorted in agony. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza.” Wiping her eyes. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota.” Unabashed. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. gasping for breath. Rrrrrrrr. But my sprinting’s not so good. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. The Ronalds were coming from downtown. and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains.” he conceded.” Orlov empathised. albeit with difficulty.” The meerkat cracked up. “I think we’ve lost them. No bother. grinning.
” She looked from one drained friend to the other.” The meerkat hesitated.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. “I’m heading for SoHo. Bella’s obsession with ACME. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. just as the doors were closing. as all lines led out of New Yorkie.” Louis sighed. was made for them. “If that’s where we decide to go. Thanks largely to the meerkat’s incredible homing instinct – and not a little huffing and puffing – they tracked down the out-of-town bound train and jumped on board. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap. Bella awoke with a start. “Looks like Coney Island. Hot sun. “We’ve had a very trying day. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. trying to make the peace. she shook her still-slumbering companions. Inside a smelting plant. exhaustion soon caught up with them. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. as it happened. ACME.” “Decisions. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. the one that does international flights. “ACME’s our priority. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction. peeping outside. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. “We must have missed our stop. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy.” Louis croaked. as they tried to get their bearings. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. He looked around in that ever-wary way. The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella. Have you?” The decision. decisions. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis. It’s well uptown. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. though. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo. Things’ll be clearer then. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. ACME. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. because there’s no public transportation. the moment of light relief forgotten. Inside a greenhouse. We should be safe there. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. swivelling his head this way and that. Settled in their seats. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant.” he said. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity. one suburban hideout was a good as the next.” Bella said. “Coming with me. The place felt like an oven. On Mercury. We need to make our way to JWT Airport. If not quite melting. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. And tasted like it too.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted.” Understandably perhaps. Aleksandr. “All of which are moot. Louis?” “It’s getting late.” the lynx said. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning.” . Boiling sun. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. It’s relocated to India. Then Orlov followed suit. decisions. as he pressed his face against the window.
” Too parched to say anything. far away. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. Unselfconsciously. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda.” Orlov remarked. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. We’ll be safe among the carousels. Mine host. Grill and Waterhole.” Orlov rasped. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. and how Mr Peanut. Bella wished she was far. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. top-hatted. Welcome to Mirage. Bertie Bassett. when brand icons were dapper men about town. beckoned from the other. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. boys. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. the monocled. not only looked inviting. like eco- . The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. flat-roofed and ogee arched. in short. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. a fraud. Gathering their wits. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. piled upon dune. The heat was fearsome. held court behind the bar. The door hissed open. Gasping for a drink. an imposter. It was hotter outside than in. spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. be gone. as best they could. Whatever their phylum. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. Except that they weren’t flies. The Birds Custard bluebird. most of which were counterfeit. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. Onlookers. Self-respect be damned. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. Mercifully. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. Far Away. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. it said.“Not a problem. twisting and turning. dune piled upon dune. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. ghost trains and roller coasters. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. Much as he loved dry heat. A sea of sand stretched in one direction. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. was a poseur. The barflies hung on his every word. Bella stood in the doorway. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. Botanic Gardens too. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern.” Bella struggled to speak. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage.
Orlov didn’t join in. We’ve got to get out of here. “Hound Dog”. No sign of Owl City. History. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. The Monkees. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. “This is the last brand saloon. Orlov persisted. was in seventh heaven. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. Grey Goose. Smirking. A poultry matter. Louis was collared by the meerkat. We’re in Brandablanca. followed by “Wild Thing”. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. Panicking. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. the Vladic stork perched at the piano.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. No matter. much to his annoyance. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. Bella and Louis supped up. The lynx hadn’t. Dropped. a sure-fire floor filler.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea. nor did he want to know right now. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. Louis. Horse Feathers.” Undeterred. Adam and the Ants. Meanwhile. “Chicken feed. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. Louis didn’t . Brusquely. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. Meerkat mambo. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. Unconcerned. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. A hen party. Howlin Wolf.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. the proper name for the peanut family. All axed by their advertising agencies. Famous Grouse. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. he didn’t give a 4X. Lapsed. The Animals. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. Monkey Business and more. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. spokespenguins held to ransom.” “Right. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. the lusty lummox. let alone an LAX. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. The Beatles. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. never mind “Fireflies”.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. the audience roared. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. for eucalyptus. consisting of Wild Turkey. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. spokescreatures sold into bondage. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. just as the stork’s set was finishing.” “It’s mambo.
“What’s up.” “I don’t. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. He made his way to the restrooms. I need something to calm me down. apparently. deep in thought.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. No sign of her there. either. They’re in transit. They thought we were brand bounty hunters.” Bella nodded. He slipped into the backstage area. the CEO is. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries. having a cigarette. trying to get to Hamlet. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. though never rising above ill-at-ease. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books. Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs. standing in the shade. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies. then.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. then. Releasing his grip.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. a Happy Meal. he punched her lightly on the shoulder.” “Let’s get going. “I didn’t know you smoked. trying to hide his relief.” . while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness.” the abstemious meerkat said.” “Exactly. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away.want to know. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. It wasn’t so funny the second time.” “Don’t tell me. He’s on his death bed. “Okay. Orlov gave up on the lynx. However. Bella was outside.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. There was no sign of Bella.” “Excellent.” she said. doc?” Bella forced a smile.
Part V Just Deserts .
he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. They shoved him aside. carvings. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. he refused to let go. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. As a feline of sorts. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. Ali Bottega Veneta. The meerkat was much less impressed. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . He didn’t want to know. Irate. He paused to get his bearings. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. shouting over the music. The lynx didn’t care. a stylised scarab in a circle. laying out his wares as he talked. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. Mustapha cut his prices even more. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger.” Bella promised. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. they returned to the bar. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. fashion designer to the stars. A mere man. Orlov made for the door. awimoway. They explained the situation to him. “Do you think he’ll be all right. His logo. “I’ll be back. carpets. They explained the situation to him again. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process.” Orlov answered. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. Ali Bally. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. He Dead Decision made. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. despite her desire to depart. Louis was on the dancefloor. Reluctantly.” Bella wasn’t reassured. Bella was impressed. was also quite striking. awimoway. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. spices. Louis wasn’t in the same league. He still didn’t want to know.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling.” Bella asked anxiously. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. So they left him to it. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”. more emphatically than before. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. Ali Burberry. sweetmeats. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. He introduced himself as Mustapha. Unconcerned. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. “He’ll be there when we get back. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. Ali Balenciaga. Talking all the while. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. Ali Boden. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Awimoway. Pelican and Penguin. Ali Brioni.
Careless squawk costs lives. He offered one to Orlov. after much pushing and shoving. Joe was undeniably cool.” Bella said beneath her breath. “This way. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. Bella waved back.merchants. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. stood between them and the same sand sea. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. 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. Orlov offered him a Lark. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. Puma helicopters. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice.” He plunged back into the casbah and. as a peacemaker. A dung beetle barred their way. nostrils flared. Eventually. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. 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. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. She told the beetle of their intentions. He looked supercool too – haughty. “Whoops. brands go. Even in the searing heat of the desert. Harrier jets. Orlov didn’t. eyelids narrowed. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. plus provisions for their journey. emerged on the other side. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything.” he decided. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. they’re hot. good-for-nothing. . “So much for kat-nav. It was Joe Camel himself. They were worrying animal omens.” Orlov apologised. Joe called a halt. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. hoping to bond with the brute. populated by belching braying camels. The old lungs weren’t what they were. blowing smoke rings. looking down on all he surveyed. But business was business. “sorry about that. dragging deeply. he explained with a bronchial cough. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. up dune. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. through tamarisk thickets. Scorpion armoured vehicles. Unwisely. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. very bad idea. good fun. a disgrace. Only a palm-fringed oasis. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. Breath like a brazier. indifferent to everyone around him. Way too hot to argue. This way was the wrong way. Mr Midden said that was a very. There was no sign of the subway station. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. Instead. The shit of the desert set off. Brands come. detached. they’re not. they’re a delight. very. grumbling and griping all the while. past thorn-bush. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. Orlov accepted. Bella decided. head aloft. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. Must be the other way. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. down dune. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. Still no sign of a subway.
Aleksandr. speaking slowly. to put it mildly. I’ve heard things. Joe shrugged. Sobbing uncontrollably.” The meerkat looked from one to the other.bad influence. they clambered up the dusty gulch. It was a refuge. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. “Your funeral. Sorry. Don’t pander. Amazed. having decided what to do. “I can carry you the rest of the way. “Take care of Louis for me. a tropical island in a sea of sand.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. “I’ve come this far. bad as in good. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. “What rumours?” The camel explained. having finally found gainful employment. This is as far as I go. Rumours. a benison. she wept for her dead mummy. Five minutes later. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. undecided. smiling.” He indicated with his hoof.” she shouted over her shoulder. She waddled up the wadi. I’m going to see it through. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. Aleksandr. Whatever. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. Fashion changes. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. Customers are fickle. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her. after all. or something similar. who once bestrode BrandLand. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. Momentarily inattentive.” Orlov murmured. Mr Kipling was near now.” “Ciao. You know how it is. Don’t lose hope. style’s forever. dead daddy. She could taste him. . earnestly. Bella nodded appreciatively. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. The Maytag repair man.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. dead best friend. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel.” “That’s true. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. if you want. Supporting each other. I’m an icon. Stay true to yourself. You can go back if you want to. slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa. “It’s just over that rise. Bella hobbled on. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. tennis courts. Bella. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed.” Bella replied brusquely. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. “…brand characters talk. It was all too much. “Looks innocent enough. his sang-froid abandoned. which rolled back down the ravine. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. causing a mini landslide.
The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. Nipper responded eagerly. Nicole and Papa. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. increasing market share. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. Howard Brown. taking in the gymnasium. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. Frankie and Louie. Aunt Jemima. “I think you’ll be impressed. woof.” Orlov replied. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever.” . though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. their raping. Joe Isuzu. the golf course. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. Bow-wow. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication.R. who’d seen better days. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. They peeked into the communal sitting room.” Betty said. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. On a whim. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. “Look. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions.“Welcome to paradise. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. assorted Scottish Widows. However. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language.” Orlov cried. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. woof. But she was friendly enough. the Tango man. It was filled with immortal brand icons. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. explaining the rationale for their operation. the arts and crafts studios. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. as they were ushered into her office. Orlov tried to get through to it. Hartley. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. The mute mutt kept mum. Yap. regretfully. the forgotten British Telecom titans. Grrrr. plump cushions. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. Frito Bandito.” Without further ado. Beattie and Buzby. rising from her sofa. as orange as ever. Bow-wow. “Would you like to look around?” she said. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. the coffee shops. Clippit. sitting in a circle of silence. Betty herself had seen better days. Woof. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. Ruff. woof. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. Crazy Eddie. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. thick carpets. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. the Coppertone girl. smiling benignly. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. “Woof. look. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. the convenience stores and the community centre.
Crocker’s a…c. Kipling’s a come-on.cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Never was. Get out. They’d walked into a trap. He’s not here. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere. Thinking quickly. Smiling benevolently..“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. Their accommodation was waiting for them. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. Right now. They were there for the duration.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances. .
Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. well. He flopped back down again. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. Head splitting. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. he remembered several more moments of madness. though he wasn’t as young as he was. “Noooooooooo. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. He was lying on a small camp bed. . Cheep”. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. However. Groaning. “don’t move”. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light.” The torture wouldn’t stop. youza. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. Chirpy. It was the least the bar owner could do. followed by “Chirpy. He was in a storeroom of some kind. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. Can’t be too careful. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. though they only had to ask. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. Louis sat up with a start. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. Then things got a bit hazy. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy.” The agony was unrelenting. The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. He looked around. “lie still”. 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”. Cheep. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. youza.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. the mortification or the migraine. given the free floorshow Louis provided. feeling queasy. Louis had never had a hangover like it. the lynx tried to get his bearings. which tightened inexorably. frankly. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. but there was a limit. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. Red Robin”. “Oooooohhhhh. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. Dawn would be up and about before long. mercilessly. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. Better not. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening. With a sudden shudder of horror.” The pain was excruciating. Lynxes were lithe. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. as are bladders full to bursting.
Louis’s iPaw. Presumably. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. He banged on the door. you son of a bitch. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak.” he shouted. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. “I’ve been expecting you. Louis angled his face on the bars. eyes fixed on the smart phone. liquorice-like. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew.” he called out. If not Bertie himself. Apart from the sacks of snacks. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. peered through the iron bars. He shouted for assistance. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. His red-suited. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. It was sweet. before disappearing through a swinging access door. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging.” There was movement. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. “I’m talking to you.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration . squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. Louis needed all the help he could get. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. fiddling with an iPaw. He reached for his iPaw. Mr Bassett. kicking the door and shaking the bars. with a view to ringing the bar. shoved it open with difficulty. grabbing hold with both hands. rabbiteared guard remained silent. He squeezed his face against the bars and. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. holding it in. head thumping. hoping to attract someone’s attention. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors. briskly. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. He paused. waited for the palpitations to pass. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. His iPaw was missing. which flapped to and fro in his wake. “Avoid the Noid. A call to prayer was imminent. dying for a drink. And a figure sitting silently at the end. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. Anxiety mounting. Livid. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. There was no sign of a cell phone. Suddenly. Sobriety took hold. albeit not on account of the nausea. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. trying to place the aroma. Ooohhh yeaaah. yanking or pulling would shift the thing. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. sugary. He sniffed. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. Louis looked up. then tried again.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. the shakes. Only the minarets showed signs of life. Louis played it cool. “I’m talking to you. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety. “Christ. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. He unlocked the door. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks.
that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door. Bertie. buy-or-die issues. “That’s a bit melodramatic. Mr Lynx. Have you forgotten your training. “Maybe. the liquorice magnate said nothing.” “I see. kid. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel. and suchlike. “But why. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. He had to get moving right away.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. We make dramas out of crises. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap. Bertie Bassett”. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. he realised that something wasn’t right. rising energetically from his camp bed.” Louis countered. Louis refused to be drawn.” “That’s what we want them to believe. “Your days are numbered. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. They never come back. not even “My name is Bassett. continuing to play it cool. nodding toward the barrels once more. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. an escape route for persecuted brands. Mr Lynx. Bassett or no Bassett.” . round up the usual suspects. We represent the end of beautiful friendships.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it.” he said. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. Well. some parts of them come back. And today’s the day when your number’s up. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders. should I say. It might already be too late. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. in response to the ridiculous death threat. 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. Unilever boy?” He stood up. hangover overcome by willpower alone.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something.” “I’m not with you. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered. He kept his cool instead. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”.” Bassett smiled. “They come from that. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. Here’s lookin’ at you. some of them come back or.” he said. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx.” There was no time to lose. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand.” he said. Nonchalant yet nasty. Instead.
He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather. However. Although he was still alive. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. Anything to make the memory go away.Ordinarily. a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. He should have known better than to tempt fate. He soon would. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. he sensed that Bassett was serious. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. .
The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. Brands. The recreational facilities were wonderful. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. She was very tempted. The food. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. Bella was kicking herself. The forbidden fruit trick. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. were a bit like piggy banks. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. the fearsome Fruit of the Loom bunch – who sprouted up with a snarl and a submachine gun when anyone made a bid for freedom or approached the outer edge of the greensward. What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. something strange was going on. No hard sell. No hassle. Crocker’s camp. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. Mr Soybean. No hustle. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. That investment kept on growing and growing and. as Nipper made clear. But. neither electrified nor chain link. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. Bella could see the attraction of the place. was a crock of marketplace gold. The accommodation was superb. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. as per ACME’s edict. There was no perimeter fence. no matter how venerable. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. no matter how outmoded. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. As a consequence. part of the brand trafficking operation. Every brand icon. Bella well knew. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. like Mr Kipling.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. much less the physiology. with watchtowers and guards. its equity was still there. Bella could understand why any brand icon. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. No soft soap. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. There was no unscalable wall. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. clearly. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. Tom Tomato. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. never mind a sickening stench.
“Burning acrylic. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long.” Bella said. struggling to his feet. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. there’s a plume of smoke over there. then took in the nine-hole golf course. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. It worked. “Look. He coughed. for one – but this was ridiculous. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. Not wanting to attract undue attention. “I still can’t smell anything. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were. Hundreds of sports team mascots. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. Even Bella could smell it. no less. Bella was beyond belief. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. Doubtless Tiger. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies.the perimeter. their . was somewhere between niffy and noisome. Orlov was doubled over. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. She declined.” Orlov gasped. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. He spluttered. There was no escape.” he said. “Maybe it was something you ate. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. only with incense that’s gone off. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. She was a penguin ignoramus. he pulled out a Lark and lit up. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. Still. low-rise glass building. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. just to see the look on his face. footloose and fancy free. Orlov thought for a second. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. minging and malodorous. “It’s a bit like a civet. a penguinoramus. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. “Acrylic. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener. “Definitely acrylic. patting him on the back. Undeterred. He offered her one. Some chance. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. It was worse than she thought. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen. The stench was stronger now. where there’s Lynx there’s hope. retching in a revolting manner. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently.” he added. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. “Orlov insisted. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. The aroma. He didn’t look up to the challenge. That’s where it’s coming from.” she said. behind a dense stand of leylandii. Bella told him so. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. only smarter. Orlov looked up. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner.” She let him splutter. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside.
quotas. the purple dinosaur. In the annals of advertising slogans. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. as had Go-Go Hamsters. Beanie Babies had been and gone.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. It was apocaplush. they’re cuddly toys.” “Yes.” Bella whispered. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen. Appalled. Peppa the Pig was no more. 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. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. Aberdeen’s Angus. There was only one problem. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. The guard was no ordinary guard. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. which fell away when full. Samson and Delilah. pampered. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Raging. He Gives a Monkey’s. “They certainly kept that quiet.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches. Desperate times require desperate measures. a brand abattoir. Barney. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. targets similar work schedule metrics.” At a loss. sadly. was extinct. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. The guard. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. let alone A Bug’s Life. Gruesome as the big screen was.” Orlov said. It was Pegasus. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. Stamford the Lion. As a Russian. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. And won the election by a landslide. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. nothing less than the furry solution. It was about to launch into . the questers considered their options. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. Norwich’s Captain Canary. Portsmouth’s Frogmore.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. As a democrat. From its perch above the production line. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door. Bella. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide.
Oh. Orlov. I’m the offspring of Medusa. If so. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. Poseidon. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. I dropped Bellerophon in it. Bella.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. remember. “I’m calling security” spiel. there’s only two of us.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. We’ve still got a wish in hand. Orlov cut the creature off. She says you’re a sell out. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. the rest soon follow. “you shouldn’t be here”. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead.” “Yes. 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. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. Just ask Tiger. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace. that its father. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch. Bella seized her chance.” .an “how dare you”. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. she does. Orlov. “However.” Bella acknowledged.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers.” “Your wish is my command. It’s the way of the world. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions.” Pegasus whinnied. I’m not choosy. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye. in case you’d forgotten. “The Roc sends her regards. as you can see. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. BTW. A god’s gotta graft. and don’t look so surprised. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry. Once one sponsor departs. I’m not proud. She’s full of it you know. Pegasus looked unimpressed. Call her. “Is that so?” “Yes. However. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. She says you’re dead horsemeat. Whatever.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
Shaven-headed. by fair means or foul. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. turning defence into attack. Mr Clean. Get ready to run for it. he was distracted by a cough. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. 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. And squeezed. Bleary-eyed. They had a rope. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. You may also have heard that we get what we want. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat). “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. “I’m Julius Pringles. Naturally. A camel was outside. At one stage. They were going to pull the bars out.” Louis snarled.” he said. You may have heard of us. In Cin City. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. a celebrity camel. he picked himself up. allegedly. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. “This is my esteemed colleague. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. he glanced up at the Proctoids. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. I’m hoping it will . preparing to call for assistance. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. a chesty wheeze from the street outside. P&G shakedown. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. the chatterbox beetle explained. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. “Let me guess. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. no one could hear brands scream. He could hear the door opening. The other was lean.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. Intrigued. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. mean and muscular. Bella sent them. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. The cry caught in his throat. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring.
Ping. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. Pantene Pro-V enriched. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. Julius. Not so surprising. Ping. “You know I can’t tell you that. a board. This was no ordinary water.” Pringles ordered. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. both literally and metaphorically. It was P&G water. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. “Take it easy. With enormous effort. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck.be fair. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. asswipe. with a butt-ripping jerk. moreover. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. 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. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials. began dragging him out of the cell. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. Sorry. Instinctively. Under normal circumstances.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. Louis?” Playing for time. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. a bucket. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. However. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand . Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. Without pausing for breath.” Clean went crazy. the pain would have been intolerable. Stoically. One-handedly. past the Noid who’d nodded off. Clearly. Ping. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. Surprisingly feminine forename. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. Mr Clean will clean your house. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. the one that controls cross-dressing. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. Is that what you’re saying.” the lynx sang tunelessly. The persecutor paused. come to think of it. Veritably. Ping. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. With a bestial bellow. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. “Let’s find out what he knows first. “And grease in just a minute. It contained a chair. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down.
The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. He had overlooked one crucially important item.” Louis retorted. “I could do with a shave. Cursing and swearing. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade. The ladies like it that way.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. which creaked and groaned from want of use. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. Strangely.” Clean crowed. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. though. Rrrrrrr. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. though. especially for so little reward. “Nice lather. They’re about to abandon your brand name. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. Wouldn’t they? . Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. His training kicked in. he tied Louis down. Louis.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. Howling with fury. it was costing him a small fortune. But he had miscalculated. pate glistening.” Muscles bulging.secrets. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. The one without the battery. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. Yes. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink. It’s common knowledge. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges. he asked Louis to reconsider. eyes glinting. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. “Five precision blades. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand.” “Glad to hear it. Mostly.” Admirable though it was. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days.” he spluttered. It’s the best a brand can get. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. “Recognise this?” he raged. Clean started work with slash and burn relish.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line.” “Correct. Masochistically shaving against the grain. Quickly and efficiently. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. You don’t owe Unilever anything. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. “Tell us what we want to know. Even at wholesale prices. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. fraught though they had been. Make it easy on yourself. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books.
Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance. electrostatically.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do.” .” Louis tried to resist. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache.” Pringles said. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent. By blindly following Gladwell. gibbering wreck in no time. Clean. I never knew that. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. But securely bound and helplessly splayed. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. “You learn something new every day. Are you ticklish. “Try the swiffer. “Well. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt.” Pringles said. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner.” “Cool. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. “Kill him. the American management guru. they tell me. It was time for a change in tactics. He really did. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit.Clean was getting nowhere fast. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. though.” Pringles suggested. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. he was a giggling. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault. then turned to go.” Louis gasped. Cats love a tickle. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. “We blindsided you with that one. “It doubles as a tickling stick. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible.
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. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. He was on a rescue mission. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. as gods go. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. “It’s nothing. They weren’t part of the plot. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. We can talk to ACME. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. just perfect for recessionary times. First. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. Reluctantly.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. then high-tailed it out of Mirage.” Orlov lied authoritatively.” Unconvinced. Far from leading Louis to his doom. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. keep body and soul together. He was capitalism in microcosm. Pegasus was basically kind. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. Third. which was worrying for a working dromedary. cut corners. He couldn’t help it.” “What about you. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. They had raised the stakes. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. That little brand of yours has potential. when the chips were down. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. Qualitywise. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. Second.” . release the furry football prisoners. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. bluffed the brusque beast and. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. make the sale. keen to do good. move the merchandise. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. Not long after liftoff. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. He owed them three wishes. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. but wish three was unnecessary. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. The reason rather was that. “But see your vet anyway. Your prices are competitive. They were part of the plot against the plot. ethical. “Probably a slight touch of Angina.
laid into the winged god. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. but no further. he’d learned something from the Roc. there might be one or two. Nobody loves us. they came to rest beside a small jetty. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. Not as beautiful as the jungle. as brand names go.“I’m a dung beetle. dotted with iridescent oases. “Hold tight.com basin. sludgy and sluggish. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop.” Orlov added.” He circled and banked and glided.” There was no persuading him. The beetle had a business to run. rolled before them. herds of wild horses. A vast river. “specially designed for young children. Pegasus was getting frisky too.” Pegasus snorted. With no realistic alternative. though. It was forbidding. That vessel will take you there. Forthright as ever. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. A flurry of feathery flutters later. There’s Caterpillar. one step above slugs and snails. closely-packed settlements. But dung beetles are persona non grata. Decrepit. okay. How dare he drop them . Although Bella didn’t like heights. “we’re coming in to land. “The objective you seek is upstream. I’m in the dingleberry business. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. There’s the Raid Bugs. “What’s this?” Bella asked.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. Evidently. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. Bella. snaking camel trains. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. yet beautiful. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness.” Louis chipped in. He’d take them as far as he could. the brand band agreed. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. And. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. “This is as far as I go. “Okay. Flashes of lightning. As far as most people are concerned. half as old as time. soaring up and away. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases.” the flying horse finally announced. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. Pegasus didn’t pause. the threesome took off. with a slight cough of embarrassment.
“Betty Crocker. Coca-Cola.” Orlov contributed. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. You know how it is. “Have a nice day. “Captain Iglo. Birdseye showed them around. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. 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. They use my proper name in Britain.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. It’s the k-sound. modestly. “Compare the market. Kit-Kat.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers. sibilants.” “Captain Birdseye.” With that.” “Correct. up and away.” a cordial voice chortled. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story.” he corrected. landlubbers. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. The old salt nodded sagely. plosives. Calvin Klein. “I can see into the future. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. energy: X-Factor. I presume. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. “I guess we better get going then.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. “I’m called Iglo in France. K-X soda. You’re a joke. A grey-bearded. excitement. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. “I intend to. open-faced figure. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X. X-Box. 4X beer. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. You’re no loss. Krispy Kreme. aspirates. Hence Kodak. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. with its connotations of edginess. X-tra strong mints. Earnestly. “Yes. P-P-P-Penguin. brothers and sister. A flash in the pan website. There wasn’t much to see: a . aka Iglo.” They didn’t know how it was. X-series sports cars. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. KFC. apparently. snapped open its wings. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. Campbell’s Soup. you see.” Louis said nothing. I don’t particularly mind.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft.” Bella ventured. Welcome on board. You don’t belong in BrandLand. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. “Welcome to the jungle. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. but as long as they keep the Captain part. You’re not proper brand icons anyway.” the captain conceded. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round.” Feeling a little left out. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer. “The B-sound’s effective too. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye.
“So. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. Just. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here. It’s pretty inhospitable country.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. every air miles offer.compact cabin. it shouldered its way upstream. I know treasure seekers when I see them. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene.” “Right. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead. “Before you ask. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. As shipshape as they’d ever be. “The ACME Horde. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin.” she said. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. Bella. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. as if unconvinced by her reply. every free gift scheme. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. “I’ll take your word for it. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years.” “I wasn’t going to ask. albeit steady as she goes. Diet’s the least turbulent. We’ve been on a long journey. Classic and Zero. And was wearing it under his uniform. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. bought the T-shirt. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. lost in their own thoughts. “Taste it. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander. done that. “There are three tributaries. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. Captain.” Eyes twinkling. Captain Birdseye cast off. “The Cokenoco. it’s called by some. With a barf and a bellow. However. at the Rainforest Café syrup works. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. He’d been there. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. Diet. Progress was slow. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated.” He handed her an old pewter cup.” “I think it’s exhaustion. stained with jolly jack tar.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance.” He nodded. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. The jetty was soon behind them and.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. steering a route of least resistance. The Trove of Death. every loyalty . it was a plausible brand yarn and. a gimcrack forecastle. not to say faintly ludicrous. After the requisite toot of the whistle. Sceptical yet intrigued. by others. every lucky winner draw. Every sales promotion.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged.” Birdseye replied. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river.
According to old wives’ tales. win a holiday. that is. ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality. privilege card redeemable premium. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. reward or guarantee. win a house. every collect the tokens. In return for a fee. win a million. who sells it on. And it’s buried in them thar hills. scratch card.card.” . complete the sentence. win a car. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings. every money off voucher.
Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. “You can’t miss it. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. . as Bella. However. It was humid. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch. “I got it covered. or had been fairly recently. slogans. if a trifle slippery.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. “I’ll wait for you. the Exxon tiger. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. The noise was deafening. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. Burning Bright The jungle closed in. Louis and Orlov disembarked. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. “Instinct?” Bella asked.” the old boatman added. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. in a foot race. Guinness is good for you. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. He can always swab the decks with the stuff. Guinness is good for you”. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. 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. Niacin. Screeches. “Calcium. they forged forcefully ahead. “Intuition.” the lynx intervened. the MGM lion. The horror. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. A trail of hoof. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. She didn’t want to know. Her companions didn’t disagree.” she observed.” “I’ll say. The throbbing ceased. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. yammering at top speed.” Orlov winked at Bella. Every so often. It’s one of our special editions. The path was narrow but passable.Chapter Eighteen Tony. “It’s that way. Tips. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. as the going got increasingly rutted.” Grinning despite herself. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. “Must be a nightmare after a storm. It was hot. straplines. to everyone’s relief.” it parroted. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. It’s big in Brazil.G. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. catchphrases and suchlike. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. Tony.” he said. Riboflavin. “The horror. guys. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth.” Orlov murmured. “No added sugar.” “It’s okay. screaming the praises of P.
Orlov and Louis looked worried. Boom-boom. if not quite unbearable. “Advent. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. was scattered around the periphery. must have carried for many. as well they might. Boom-boom. brandishing a burning brand. Chuckling. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. a big. Boom. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers. the high priest of high fashion. The clammy heat was.” Orlov whispered. as the ceremony proper commenced. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. it didn’t last long. Fast as the cobra was. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. The crowd held its breath. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. big brand in west Africa. If ACME’s behind this. Boom. decidedly unpleasant. Emboldened. With a blood-curdling yell. minus the vocal accompaniment. though they weren’t the centre of attention. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. they inched forward and. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard.” Bella hissed. A great shout of glee rose up . “Let’s just watch and wait. dump bins. then a third. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. shelf-talkers. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. posters. many miles.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. “Ssssssshhhhhh. Boom.listening intently from time to time. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. coupons. however. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. Suddenly. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. A second drummer joined in. This was no ordinary ceremony. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. The drumming stopped. easing a succulent aside. Boom-boom. cut cases. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. Unfortunately.” Louis was less than impressed. Boom.” “Ssssshhhhh. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. Boom. Boom. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. Bella burst out laughing. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune.
Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. The response was lukewarm. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. as a groan escaped from the majority. Luckily. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. slowly. those whose side-bets were misplaced. seductively. pretending it had steamed up. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. Without further ado. She started peeling off her skin. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. as the onlookers went ape. Howling with bestial abandon. Mr Peanut. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. The first combatant strode in imperiously. she started dancing. with fighting as part of the fun. Peanut paused. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. His followers showered him with confetti- . Booing derisively.from one group of onlookers. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. Aghast at the brand butchery. the cruiserweight climax of the card. The drums started up again. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. Clearly. In his top hat and monocle. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. the main event. Miss Banana. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. 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. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. circled slowly searching for an opening. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. because a lot of money had been lost. The polar bear burst asunder. meanwhile. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. belly dancing. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. removed his monocle and. Which of course it did. Transfixed. however. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. This also ended on a disappointing note. Then another brand character contest kicked off. she encouraged the crowd to join in. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. Bella concluded that Louis was right. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. Ingeniously. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury.
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
He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. He added. 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.form of sandbanks. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. the jungle less and less dense. But she said nothing. slow travel. The lynx laughed it off. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. Izod and analogous alligators. He was a Mars Inc. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. similar to slow food. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. CEOs need to chill a little. brand. top-hatted and smirking. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. after asking what was biting. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. slow parenting and so on. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. Bella wasn’t so sure. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. A strange strain of fish. whirlpools. If anything. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. eddies. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. of continuing with the same basic proposition. chewed the fat about brand longevity. exchanged greetings and. apropos of nothing. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. They stopped. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. He knew what P&G were capable of. shallows. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. 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. The captain said they were Crocs. The river got narrower and narrower. of conviction. . Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. But not right away. He’d been there. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. which was a first for Mustapha. since they are exposed to them more frequently. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. and whisked him off to meet his doom. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. rapids. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. Understandably. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. shook him down. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence.
” Louis sighed. more like. they spotted Strider. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. in an awestruck voice. wondering if they could do anything for him.” Louis said. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois.As the brand band slid upstream. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. No sweat. believe me. no. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. Mustapha looked confused. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. “They’re all at it nowadays.” “Heaven help us. “Five star restaurants.” Orlov quipped. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines.” Louis continued. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle). Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. “They were airbrushed. asking after his welfare. run a few errands. all right. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. The remains of a massive . The Michelin Man. bigger than the Marlboro Man. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s.” Mustapha said. At a bend in the river. The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. Barclays Bank. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. Louis and Orlov fell about.” Bella contradicted. “Jeez. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead. He looked in pretty good shape. though not inaccurately. That’s definitely not Doughboy. He throttled back and.” “He’s big.” Orlov gasped. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs. the Johnnie Walker whisky character. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. even though he knew he shouldn’t. “Who?” “Bibendum. right in front of the distended inner tube. held her steady in the centre of the stream. Not far ahead of them. He doles out the awards. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. he’s really let himself go. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. There were no signposts to speak of. allowing for the onrushing current. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. The overweight icon said nothing.” Bella snapped.” “Photoshop. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. don’t forget. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. either. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman.” “No. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. like little boys playing truant. a superhuman snowman.
Before long. “I think it’s a statue. “It isn’t alive. The blimp burped instead.” Orlov said. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. . ravaged by fine wines. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. Red thereafter. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. And it was. Aware of the brand icon’s geographical acumen – maps and guidebooks were his most profitable sideline – Bella asked if ACME was around here somewhere. but he still said nothing. high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. Smiling appreciatively. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant.” But it wasn’t. hissing like a deflating cross-ply. the mist descended. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. White to start. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb.
Orlov?” Bella called. smell it. practically. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. Brand abduction. right? Since the 1950s. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. Little green men. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly. sometimes arcing across the sky. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. at least.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse.” he shouted. pulsing intermittently. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. such as it was. No good will come of this. She couldn’t think of any more. like an air raid siren. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. But Bella wasn’t listening. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. Taking command once more. Close encounters. “Area 51. Another loud hum struck up to port.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. She had other things to attend to. They moved around above them. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. he gurned from time to time. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. Bella stood in the forecastle. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. “But in this day and age. “Maybe back in the good old days. touch it. Her brain had gone numb. UFOs. “What do you reckon. “We’re entering Aliens country.” More in hope than expectation. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. The fug literally vibrated at one point. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. Bella bellowed back. She could sense it.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. There was Quisp. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. A humming sound started up to starboard. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. sometimes to port. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years. sometimes to starboard. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. There was Google’s Android software icon. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. There’s nothing to worry about. ACME was within her grasp.
It got louder and louder. “Please. “Shut him up. Louis made to tie the tub up.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. even. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. There’s no point persecuting him any further. “This is Fanta Falls. The landing lights had moved on. They’re impassable. Eventually. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. Ho. bubbling and fizzing. Bella licked the side of her beak. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. presumably to another planet. “I know where we are. as a wall of fizzy water. The buzzing had stopped. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. flight by flight.yammering that prevented rational thought. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. broke out his wings and took flight. Spectral silence reigned. Smirking despite their perilous situation. rather. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. Several flights of stairs later. Ho. Bella’s band were close. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes. allegedly. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony.” Louis didn’t disagree. though. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large. Brand stretch is bad news. Before long. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. where a breathtaking sight greeted them. “This is where we get off. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. He’s done his duty by us. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. eyeball-melting orange in hue. The lull didn’t last. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. bramble . supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. The captain’ll come round soon enough. let her go. to the tableland above. flitting ahead of the astonished posse.” Bella hissed. Without pausing for breath. At the side of the falls. it was definitely the colossus of brands. someone. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau. they mounted purposefully.” she shouted to Louis.” Orlov did the needful. An intense stare.” she called. The acme. Said they were legendary. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. very close.” With a natural nautical flair. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. A dull rumble roared ahead. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. feelers flailing. A vast orange sodafall. cut into the living rock. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. but Bella said no. legs lashing. bracken patches. The epitome. “Hush. he gave up. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. sucking his thumb.
“It’s Professor Kipling. cold. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. It was a university. of course. Louis suggested the Students’ Union.bunches and hardy karst grasses. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. to be precise. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. more beautiful still were the students. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. too. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. grikes and runnels ahead. Beefeater. Although few in number on the campus outskirts. while trying to work out where they were. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. a new university. The others gathered round to do likewise. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. He was right.” she said. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. ABC peacock-dotted lawns. neo-classical pastiche. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. Truth. Certainly.” he said. almost art deco. nothing less than BrandLand University College. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . wall-mounted day planners. As they drew closer to the structure. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. Bella was bewildered. “I just don’t get it. As Bella and the boys strolled past. Bibendum. “and then see what’s what. I suspect. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. surely. According to a poll in Time magazine. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. cold.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. However. They set off for the administrative building.
while holding open the heavy glass door. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. “This is the place. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. It’s even more elevated than Professor. Kipling’s door was at the very end. Louis. “It’s Mr Kipling. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about.” “Actually. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor. They piled into the lift and.s. Don’t be bashful. Picke Bicke mouse. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. if not exactly in seventh heaven. Not him too. She looked where Mustapha was pointing.” There was indeed. Understandably. He winked by way of replying. Bella shook her head. “Enterrrrr. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. That’s a good thing. mouthing bowwow for good measure. rats. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby. a. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up.” Mustapha crowed.p. “Enter.” “He’s in. Exasperated. disappeared into the belly of the beast. They knocked politely. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. Pochacco the dog.” he shouted. Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics. “At last. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body.” Bella noted. Top medics are always called Mister. Pekkle the duck. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments.” .a. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig. There’s hope for us yet. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more.” Orlov sighed.” a melodious voice responded. then reappeared waving excitedly. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline. 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. “There’s a board by the door that says so. “Excellent. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. “He isn’t a professor after all. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically. Louis would have volunteered to help.” “Great. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. a kind of inverted snobbery. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. a few moments later. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect.” Orlov corrected.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor.body.
Undeterred. Louis nodded. then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour. Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably. thought about things for a second. . raised her flipper. Orlov shrugged. and pushed. Bella took a deep breath.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression.
A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. smiling obsequiously. She didn’t know what to expect. His handlebar . with black necktie and starched collar. Cataletto. all ceramic. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. It was the statues that surprised her. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. Statues of cats. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. all silent. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. Salvadore Kitty.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets. “Before you ask. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. Pussain. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. somehow. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. “Is that like the glass ceiling. are often negative. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. that it would be filled with books and not much else. cats are discriminated against and. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. which stretched from floor to ceiling. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling.” she asked. She imagined. as brand mascots. though most of these were open and in use. dewy eyed. “First. but not on the second. Catstable. There were paintings by Catavaggio. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. etc. Whereas dogs are everywhere. Dozens of them. “only for cats?” Smiling. “Second. and several others she didn’t recognise. as product spokespersians. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. But there were long chains of Russian cats. curled in a ball.” Mr Kipling said. Books there were. As Bella gazed around the room. what few portrayals there are. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. She was right on the first count.
Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. Indeed. or said he did. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. unerring. it transpired. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. lost in thought. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. industrious. but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. nor the surrounding countryside.” he called. much less the BrandLand University campus. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. As it was true confessions time. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating. “Correct. proper. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. rose from his desk. he was less impressed by. Black Beauty. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. He knew her grandfather well. “I see. along with the space-invader sound effects.” Kipling said calmly.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. since the brand was a lynx in name only. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. about flipper fatigue.” Kipling said. He recognised Bella right away. peering at her intently. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. Bella inhaled deeply. He rubbed his chin idly. . “I see. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision.” Kipling conceded. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. The patriarch pushed back his chair. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. intellectual acuity. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. clandestine success. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. To all intents and purposes. “Let me show you something. turning to Orlov.” he continued. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. Orlov. Louis. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. However there was a good reason for that. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. “And you. then rose to greet his visitors. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links.
What you see. where we study black swans. the Hare and the Tortoise. Call of the Wild. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. The Gruffalo. “We’re talking about a state of mind. Bad as capitalism can be. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. With a start. you’re saying that it’s a free for all.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. Toad of Toad Hall.” Orlov quipped. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. The clouds parted. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. to Kipling’s irritation. Bella awoke. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. “what is it? The students?” Smiling. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. let alone a committee that calls the shots. Bella. Watership Down.” At a loss. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. Academy Country Mammal Education. “If it’s not any of the buildings. I take it. with a . She tried again. a glass of hard liquor in hand. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. “Take a sip. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble.” he said. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. animal emblem products in particular. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. unprotected by copyright or trademark.Animal Farm. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. There is no controlling force. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. Bella. “It’s more intangible than that. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. surrounded by plaster cats. used by all and sundry. She’d been out for hours. Mr Kipling sat beside her. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment. worried looks on their faces.” Bella said. Bella was too stunned to respond. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. Everything became clear.” “In a way. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. “So. The Ugly Duckling.” A light went on above her head. It’s a fake. ACME is a generic term. Bella. purple cows. She was lying on a leather chaise longue.” “An exceedingly good fake.
Orlov dropped his eyes. she thought. You should consider a career in academia. instant rewards. products these days are pretty much of a muchness. especially in these days of instant results. renders the similar dissimilar. Effective branding is a very slow process. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. perhaps? Apple pie. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis.” With a knowing look. however. Very impressed.” Disappointed.twinkle in his eye. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. Aleksandr. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. “These are the essence of branding. Kipling returned to his desk. someone once said. instant returns.” 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. “Oh. though. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. “Almond slices. It looked and smelled delicious. “No really. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. . Curvoisier delivered.” The meerkat nodded sagely. or so the story goes.” With a good-try smile. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. “I’m impressed. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. One was right in front of the lynx. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. separates the inseparable. Exactly. say. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection. aren’t they? Angel cake. It was a rhetorical question.” Bella said. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. The rewards are enormous in the end. distilled from dead dogs. then stowed the bottle away. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. “Exactly. “We live in a world of identical products. though. Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. 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. He was starving. instant impact…or else. raising a flipper in protest. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. “Branding. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger. I could acquire a taste for that. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. to her companions’ relief. He succumbed. emphasising. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. just like these slices of cake.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. As Bella sat up. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. “This isn’t a snack. “I’m not hungry. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. However. All this way for what? What indeed.” he said. It’s a test. We need people like you round here. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying.
You establish a monopoly. He needn’t have bothered. fast and effective.” Mr Kipling replied. It’s cheap. eyeing up the other slice. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. “I think you do. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties.. his rudeness.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed.” .” “I still don’t see.” Louis added. Louis struck his best cute cat pose..” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake. Exactly. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face. finishing her brandy. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin. at least in the short run.” Bella said. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. You swallow the competition. “Exactly.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
As did the Great Chain of Branding. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. the suckers at the centre of it all. Next are bipedal animals. swear to anything. according to Kipling. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. Bella cursed herself bitterly. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. though. rather.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. He wanted power. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. Michelin Man. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. Accordingly. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. as did the early 1900s. the loathsome Bertie Bassett. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives. The demand for spokescreatures. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. Dogs’d do anything. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Cute critters remind them of childhood. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. when western capitalism also wobbled. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. However. Bella had never heard the expression before. designed to make his breed the boss. say anything. frankly. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. those that walk or stand upright . was motivated by self-interest. Le Penguin didn’t want that. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. He’d concocted a credible external threat. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. is that penguins are as popular as ever. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. Captain Birdseye. Models and Explanations. It was a blatant power-play. Humankind. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. emperors. chinstraps or rockhoppers. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. his call for a cull of isabellines. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. The irony. Had it been McKitty. to say nothing of tourists. they were much less photogenic than adélies. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. was counter-cyclical. Breed-interest. his slaughter of the innocents. in short. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. If anything.
where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. The entire journey had been a waste of time. . His kindly eyes were inscrutable. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. She’d been outsmarted. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. However. to the top of the penguin pile. Literally. with shame. Easy-going as a rule. monkeys. Worse. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. They were a study in contrasts. meerkats and prairie dogs. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. guys. is red in tooth and claw. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. or possibly rockhoppers.” Louis said. most notably bears. Well beaten. much less millipedes. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. dogs. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. they say. She’d been beaten. given its size and growth prospects. they’d been living on a pig’s back. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. naturally. spiders and cockroaches. crocodiles are further down the rankings. tigers. Branding. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. She recalled. at bottom. She glanced across at Kipling. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. “Rrrrrrrrr. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. She’d been a fool. penguins. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. rhinos. They hugged. Not yet. “I’ll be staying here for a while. She was going to miss him. “I think it’s time to go. Le Penguin had won. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica.in semi-human fashion. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. Clearly. sheep. Bella. Recession. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. sadly. where only the fittest and most vicious survive.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. the climax of Animal Farm. Quadrupeds like cows. Louis seemed excited. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. The Great Chain explained a lot. She’d fallen for it. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin.” “Actually. But all was not lost.” Bella purred. Not by a long chalk. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. Bella felt fit to be tied. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman. or so she believed. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. because penguins had done pretty well. though not as far down as six-legged. Beaten. She turned to her companions. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. cats. Not completely. by and large.
pickles.” he said.” he giggled. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand.” Mirthful. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. Bella. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). Cambridge. I’m Flat Eric 2. kissed him on the cheek and. and the not so highly regarded Department of . Skin It. Beaten to his own punch line. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. I could do with it. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. “I think we can do better than that. he looked forward to attending her lecture. Shoot It. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. Clean It.” Touched. including Catch It. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. “That’s our Simples secret. I know. “…and.” the great brand man chuckled. “I’m staying too. thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. Thanks. as well as with sauces. for example. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus. Aleksandr. “Thanks. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. condiments and preserves. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch. “If ever you need…” “Yes.0. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. I’m afraid. I’m a fad. However. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator. Attenborough. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued. before whispering in his ear.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. I’m a fraud. for starters. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. Taste It. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. Follow me.Sad-faced.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. which was sure to prove provocative. The meerkat was mistaken. Bella. Cook It. where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D.” She leant forward. eyes shining with meerkat tears. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. To his shame and embarrassment. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. Apparently. Her latest was called Snare It. the vaunted TV naturalist. Still chatting. Scoff It. Trim It. the way I skimmed so many others. I know. with a come-here gesture to Louis. “I’ve got a lot to learn.” Louis laughed. “Why’s that. “You gave Kipling the look. Assam. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth. You’re too kind. But I skimmed that particular entry. Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. Ever proper. She held him tightly. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. Toast It. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh.
generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. Can’t stand the cold. she looked like a sacred ibis. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. lookingood-ladies palaver. beehives. one Mustapha Midden. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. credit…” No less nonplussed. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. “After you’ve cleaned up here. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. “But surely. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. “But how?” Bella asked. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces. bookstore.” “Many claws make light work. the great . Under normal circumstances. all with a snazzy scarab logo. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder. suppliers. Her utter amazement. she felt the glimmerings of an idea. ponytails. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. “I like this place. All six of them. raw material. They were a perfect fit. they emerged into a compact. before you know it. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. “you need permission. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. Bella tried them on. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. Mustapha.” “No can do. the throng dispersed. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. while rubbing his legs gleefully. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium.” With a flourish. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. and. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. I’m a desert rat. however.” Orlov said. though. Before long. “I’ve got something for you. don’t you know. Mustapha stared at them askance.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm.” Orlov said. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. plus matching undergarments.Popular Culture. So much so.” He rubbed his claws again. “But where?” Louis inquired. Eventually. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. With the hood up. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. “You might be needing these for your journey. bobcat’s your uncle. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. With six legs and a little get up and go. “All sold out.
Louis. where she awaited further instructions.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. she was gone. On Kipling’s call. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. Bella hugged Aleksandr. the scribe. With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. the arbiter. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. . Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment.
much less defeated fierce macaronis. If not quite Anna Karenina. with impenetrable jungle on either side. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. lowly place though it was. yah. Isaac and Nina. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. suffice it to say. So did Bella. It was true what they said. she was getting used to it. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. the offbeat plan solidified.” she said. I am. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. Paris Humboldt. she asked. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. During the appeasement era. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. anymore. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. though. serene. she had lost her best friend.” “Rather.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. She asked instead about the brand. She had nothing to lose. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. Bella didn’t hold that against her. “They don’t make ’em like you. 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. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. “Yah. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. Why.” Ecstasy said immodestly. apparently. She had lost her parents.” she replied diplomatically. “We fiddled while the brand burned. Bella replied in the affirmative. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. redolent of Roedean. Bella thought. “You’re looking well on it.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. under German ownership. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. As they rose to their cruising altitude. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. 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. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. But after Pegasus and the Roc. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. luxurious. Bella was spellbound. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. As they flew over Fanta Falls. If he’d been on this Rolls. Ogilvy hated flying.
it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. I suppose.” “Quite. It was déjà vu all over again. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. It was invigorating. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. looking for a suitable landing site. He sounded crazier than ever. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper.” Ecstasy sighed. She couldn’t make it out at first. moreover. except that there were more macaronis than before. don’t fall for it. The bitterer the better. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. She could see them pointing their flippers. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. She could see the Homebase Glacier. Sad. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. all regimented. all equidistant. 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. Look. “Yes. the deep blue Boots crevasses. It was wonderful. taking in the incredible apparition above them. an enormous shocked intake of breath. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. a penguin power play. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. He’s a tyrant.” “Tell the tale. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. Bella could feel herself welling up. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. Bella believed. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. wrapped up . It’s a trick. Perched on the back of a flying angel. It was beautiful too. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. even though she’d no home to go to. though some adélies looked up. Before long. Bella screeched at the multitude below. in the far distance. Buffeted by howling winds. Bella whirled round. look. She was home. folks. Better yet. she mused. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. all shouting as one. Almost instantly. A murmur commenced. More and more turned round and faced skywards. the Iceland ice shelf. Suddenly she could. Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon.” All talked out. it was bitter. The muster was much better organised. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea.” Carried away on the wind. make the sale. Bella felt a chill in the air. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. Outraged. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded.” Taken aback. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued.“That’s where we went wrong.
both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. “According to the Meow Jones Index. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. a shot across the bows. It was risky. She knew she only had one shot.” She paused again. which of course is our community’s speciality. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. It requires a little lateral thinking. she must have been a baleful sight. Antithesis. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. Very risky. they seemed to say. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. She took a deep breath. a way out for us all. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. however. head covered in an enormous cowl. while pulling back her khaki cowl. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. Would it were otherwise. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. followed by those of gentoo descent. Even macaronisation won’t save us. As one creature falls in human estimation. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. because she was one of their own. We’re all macaronis now. She held fire. “Seize the day. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face. Denunciation was doomed. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. There is no hope for us. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs. All brands must pass. had finally arrived. But he couldn’t interrupt.” she whispered to herself. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. It was hard to control her anger. as he tried to work out her angle.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. Inadvertently. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. it needed several seconds to germinate. in delight and relief. as her image appeared on the giant screen. however. it seemed. “There is a solution. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. “I am. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. The entire crowd squawked in horror. Ten days ago. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously.” . Having planted the seed of hope.” Bella announced to the multitude. These were the people who’d killed her parents. The Ibis. as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. Bella swallowed. The crowd gasped again. a sign. He vacated the microphone. However. He quickly regained his composure. a messenger. I met him. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. Emperors. here on behalf of ACME.in a great taupe cloak. another rises. with only her beak protruding. She bit her lip. the coming creature is the prairie dog.
” she said calmly. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. She had another card to play. one for all. penguin parity didn’t exist. critter.” “Don’t cull us. Playful as always.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. Prairie dogs are tuftless. “Fear not. Bella thought. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. but the rewards are enormous. Today is my day. They look a little like us. The old order would re-establish itself. In reality. complete with stylish scarab logo. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. Bristling with rage. “Every prairie dog has its day. But with a sick slimeball like you. And take your tufts with you. though. Suddenly.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. of all for one.” . because I’ll be back. Having won over the doubters. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. Even our most extravagantly crested species. “It means removing all tufts. royals royals. I’ll make an exception.” “Catch you later. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. She already had.” “Not today you won’t. as the gathering made up its mind. asshole. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. No more hairpieces. It was the riskiest of the lot.” the audience shouted. a huge roar of approval rent the air. Kings could be kings. sadly. The dream did. Victorious. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging.” He glared murderously. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. where you belong. will have to depilate. “I want my MuMi. emperors emperors. she turned away from the podium. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities. I know.” Mmmm. like us. “I’ll get you for this. even though their natural crests would have to go too. we’ll cull you. “I want my MuMi. No more macaronisation. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. The gentoos jumped for joy. she looked incredible. Not bemused. you isabelline bitch.The audience exchanged glances. No more tufts. The blackfoots went bananas. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. such as our beloved macaronis. Not sceptical. They live in large communities like us. It was all or nothing.” There was complete silence for a second. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. Penguins are passé. though. Enjoy it. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. This is a heavy price. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. I want my MuMi. of togetherness. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. “Fellow penguins. a little like isabellines. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured.
Where there’s muck there’s brands. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. if not his totemic tufts. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. 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. or to complain about stereotyping. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. she’d never felt so lonely. she told herself. The cuter the critter. However. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. Sean the Sheep on the other. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. admittedly. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. there were MuMis to move. she had a job to do. Thoughts of her late parents. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days. Orlov had said. It was unnecessary. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. Thoughts of her dead friend. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. trampled on though they were. was draining away inexorably. since penguin popularity had never been higher. In the meantime. Donald Duck. Finny too. Stuart Little on the one hand. but really didn’t now. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. 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. Alone with her thoughts. they dreamed dreams of freedom. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. 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. Still. prevalent though pigeonholing was. Mickey Mouse. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. the more they exploited it. Akin to chained animals in their phone. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. according to Mr Kipling. be it the iPod.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. She didn’t belong anymore. Rin Tin Tin. Pixar and Dreamworks. Except it didn’t last long. mashups and graphic novels. She never really did. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. For ever. True.and laptop-equipped cubicles. Look on the bright side. Humankind needs to escape from time to time.
you know.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. she said her fashionista farewells. Logistics. She stared over the edge of the glacier. who was hard at work on his furballs. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. Ciao. darling. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. especially to those without them. I’ll be passing on P&G. if there were problems with build quality. The crevasse caught her eye. Mustapha. The sun was low in the sky. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. suffice it to say. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way.deliverer. Mummies are special.” Mustapha countered. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent. because they already embody the brand.” she chided. Actually. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. many maintain. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. ideally someone with a flair for logistics. She had a busy time ahead of her. I was thinking of hiring isabellines. . Bella was all alone. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. smiling at the strangely distant memory. No one was looking. was drawing in. She felt the material with a flipper. On a whim. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. Mustapha. air kiss. Mummies mean a lot. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot.” With a smile of admiration. “I’ll work on it. Seemed pretty stout. the ride was really rather thrilling.” “Goody! Gotta go. Laughing. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. It was time to pay her final respects. “that there are forty million cats up north. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. Mustapha changed the subject. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have. “I hope you realise. she Skypied Mustapha.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around. Bella. “I’ll be needing agents. She might have enjoyed it if it weren’t for her panic-stricken desire to beat the emperors to the beach. Perhaps she could rest up there for a few hours. She checked her MuMi ensemble. She glanced around. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. Evening.” “I hope you realise. Air kiss. let alone satanic macaronis. However. such as it was. Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor.
Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. she remembered the wall of death. the precipitous final plunge. across the bay. Paris. She might even have looped the loop on occasion. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. eyes watering. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. her death wish.” “I…I…I…Oh. Pepsi-cola Blue. unquestionably. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. moaning and groaning. She hurtled round bends. shrieking with alarmed laughter. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. “Izzy. Pale Tiffany blue to start. Isaac and Nina. She’d forgotten how fast it was. slow-witted leopard seals. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further.” . beak aching. Alarm bells ringing. but was far too fearful to care. All of a sudden. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. The kaleidoscopic colours. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. “You should be ashamed of yourself. punctuated by periods of blind panic. A death sentence. more like. The looming twosome merged into one. She tried to kick the thing off. A sheet anchor. Bella shook her head. Uncle Izzy. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death. water-resistant. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. Waterlogged. were incredible to behold. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. She corkscrewed like crazy. It got caught around her ankles. But only for a second. She could see stars. yourself especially. as there always are. more like.“Weeeeeeeeee.” Bella dived head-first into the void. BMW Blue. in fact. past slackjawed. the warp-factor slide into the sea. Recklessly. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. Go faster. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. howling. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. young woman. screaming. She bounced over bumps several times.” he observed. apart from that downpour up the jungle. it descended through IBM Blue. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. however. to no avail. The previous ride was coming back to her. trying to focus. no way. not looking where she was going. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. Both of them did. my head hurts. Head throbbing. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. She pushed and pushed and pushed. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. Despite her abject terror. the great divide. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue.
Overcome with emotion. There the heiress was. mummy. head completely clear. Without a by your leave. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. a proper job. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. she didn’t know what to say. worried sick. Plans to get a real job. Daddy. She’s happy the way she is. dearest. manifestly in mourning. They had their hands full with Paris. she hugged her parents with all her might. You owe them an apology. “No. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. huddled together. backs bowed. There’s a bit of scarring. but she’ll live. They rushed toward her. and then she saw them. “Worried sick.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery.” . Bella’s parents came to join her. Disappearing off like that. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly.” Smiling indulgently. But her outfit saved her. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. They assumed the worst. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. daddy. “So. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. “Your parents are worried sick about you. “Paris is perfectly fine. daddy. young lady. Bella scampered across to her best friend. sleeping gently.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. mummy. to one side of the wall of death divide. They couldn’t find her. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. She peeped anxiously over the screen.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. Ecstatic. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and.” They looked up. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. no. We smuggled her to safety. The decision was made. daughter of mine.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. it was Bella’s decision. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. you say?” “Yes. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. to his delighted consternation. looking pale and interesting. not knowing what to expect. she toward them.” He had her on “are”. you know. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. They all talked at once. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. Staggered. all distant relatives. daddy. However. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter.” “Miracles never cease.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. Bella leapt up. followed his indicative flipper.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way. heads bent. surrounded by screens. what have you been doing with yourself. “Mummy.
Let me explain.” THE END .“What??!!” “As I said. it’s a long story.
The Little Penguin That Could An Afterword on Mashups and More A major work will establish a genre or abolish it. you know. So if one of the bears has a slingshot. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. Daisey. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. 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. So much so. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. and the perfect work will do both.” “Like a secret message. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. 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. who would win?” And.com. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. plans and profitability. that at some point in the proceedings. for example.” Needless to say.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. Although no topic was taboo.” “Or a plan. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. the ebullient founder of Amazon. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. prospects. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. because we need to be the . without fail. Who will win. I have no fucking idea. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. on the web. Way back in the early days of the company. “That’s a good question. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. 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.
But. the bears who come equipped. I cast around for excuses. Aflac duck. I mused. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. Maybe. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. it pains me to report. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. 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. Slazenger’s panther or Chester. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. short. 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. a sure fire cure for insomnia. and. Maybe. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? .1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it. 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. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. the case studies in the original – railroads. the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. I surmised. petroleum. the students hated Levitt’s essay. Puma’s puma. interestingly. I mean. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. They found it dull. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. Maybe. I didn’t get round to most of them. favourably. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. today’s multi-tasking. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. Bears with guns. Some students were blown away. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered. Some time ago. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. hey. admittedly. I conceded. but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). bombastic and. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. I fully expected the students to respond positively.3 Taken aback by this reaction. We begin with a little bit of backstory. Granted. Jaguar’s jaguar. I made a start on several others. boring. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. All things considered.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. enthusiastically. though.armed bears.2 Much to my surprise. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee.
all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. My students. One was the latest management bestseller.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. Once again. Between 2005 and 2008. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. As an inveterate booklover. as they say. tongue-in-cheek. and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. Marilyn Monroe. clearly. as an aberration. if not undaunted. what’s more. Let alone thrillers. by the task I’d set myself. it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). 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. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. in effect. The antidote. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. the writing role model was Dan Brown. But then I noticed something intriguing. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. Except that I did. much less reading the wretched things. Nevertheless. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started). I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. . naturally). as did Bono. They cost an absolute fortune. In my case. I had never written fiction before. If anything. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. The second was a Stephen King or a Robert Ludlum or a John Grisham or a Jackie Collins or a Barbara Taylor Bradford or something broadly similar. and partly because we shared a surname (which enabled me to claim. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. secret codes proliferated. while queuing up for the cash register. I did what many novice novelists do. There was only one problem. The Marketing Code. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. Undeterred.Unfortunately. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. as a quirk of the Irish. Agents & Dealers. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. and The Lost Logo. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble.5 Dead bodies abounded. I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. When flying around the country. You couldn’t make it up.
It’s difficult enough to do one of these well.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. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. However. 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. pacing. I suppose. 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. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. full stop.In retrospect. The whole process. say. as it gave me . the kernel for the covering. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. My original intention was to leave things there. Students. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. etc. The same is true of fiction. And quite a few of my later ones. action sequences especially. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. Stork margarine. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. similarly. characterisation and more besides. Red Bull energy drink. was that I tried to do too much. funnily enough. However. By far my biggest mistake. if truth be told. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. though. consumer behaviour. Essentially. 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. never mind bring them all together successfully. True. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas.). inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. chronology. techniques and writing style of academia. Nowadays. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. Like any learner. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. of William Golding. Ditto my fiction. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. Yes. Crocs shoes. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. It seemed like an interesting project and. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers.
I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. admittedly. videos. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. et al. computer applications et al. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube. cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). Rob cut through the crap. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. Pom Somkabcharti. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. In television. Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. Stop writing parodies. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. Arabian Nights. meanwhile. bits of bytes brought together as books. are exemplary media mashups. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” . Rob Williams.7 In music. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. the reader. What’s more. not unlike those in the Decameron. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. the breakup of rock band Oasis. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. The Penguin’s Progress was born. car parking in Tel Aviv. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. My brilliant publisher. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. mashups are digital medleys. Canterbury Tales. Bring the brands to life. the way I did before. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. Whistler. In movies. In this case. I mean. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. 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”. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. In the visual arts.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. Let the brand characters be characters. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. wasn’t impressed. In the literary world. he commanded. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. songs.
there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. 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. between the covers of glossy magazines. Charlie the Tuna. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. however. though a hardline. What’s more. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. That elephant is called copyright. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. Pattern Recognition. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. of late. True.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. Brand characters are trademarked. among others). the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. let alone Red Lobster. their copyrights. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks. Elsie isn’t just any old cow. on roadside billboards. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. consumer response has been highly favourable. That said. Jennifer Government. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. she’s Borden born and bred. fan fiction. for certain consumers at any rate. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure. 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. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. their intellectual property. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. Indeed. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. in the main. which features more than 3. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. As one commentator ruefully observes: . In a shared narrative space. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. Ask any counterfeiter. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. There’s an elephant in the room. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch.
Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. As a critic by inclination. This attempt may not be successful. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. except for the lawyers. As if. my incredible family – Linda. 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. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. And yet. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. we pulverise their livers and bones. Madison. Alun Richards. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas. the “Faber Fellowship”. the genius screenwriter. I grant you.10 I can’t deny. last but not least. but the conventional marketing textbook. hawks or eagles. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. professional sports teams. To normal human beings. nations. however. then we may all. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. the dreadful how-to tome. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. Rob Williams. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. unconventional ways. We seek to empower kingdoms. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. their teeth and genital organs. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. That’s their prerogative. the standard academic article. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food. The Bedside Book of Beasts. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. though. who was a notorious borrower. . that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. the author. and. TPP is an attempt to do just that. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. bears or tigers. It does so with satirical intent. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves. Any criticism. live to regret it. Just think of Handel. should be directed at me. As pastoralists and sport hunters. For one thing. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. 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. original.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward.
209-238. 9899. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. 5. New York. we need to explore other platforms. helpful or destructive. for example. 2004. See Stephen Brown. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. Speaking personally. arguably a symptom of the male menopause. such as iPhone apps. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. you! If you have any comments on the novel.feathers. Still available from all good charity shops. As with all symbolic representations. “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. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. Marketing Theory 4 (3). and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. as a card-carrying academic. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. and Christ the Lion of Judah. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. Among northern peoples. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press. 2002). 6. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. London. 7. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. Both. from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. scientific and irrational. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. 2005).com Notes and References 1. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. are available in his excellent anthology.Mike Daisey. London. bears are renowned spirit guides.sfxbrown. or scavengers. and body-parts from the earliest of times. Thank you for reading this far. 4. Yes. As a group. mine has been reasonably productive. computer games and videography. pp. My only defence is that. It’s very widely cited. or a deceptive mixture of the two. You glutton for punishment. and the ancestors of humanity.com (Fourth Estate. 3. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. compared to some mid-life crises. 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. The younger generations are prepared to read. However. experiment and belief. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. whose art takes from then and now. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. incidentally. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. 2. pp. from Claude and the comic book. 1986). in what seems to be a search . Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. This may well be so. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. Don’t all rush at once. I’m acutely conscious that. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old.
Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. 2010. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. On the on-going copyright debate. Chicago. The Observer. “Entering a whole new head space”. 2010). 2008). . p. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. John Naughton. 5 June. Braun. check out Lawrence Lessig. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. London. London. 2002. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. 2010. 9. 19 (1). 6-7). New York. 21. 2009). “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. Sunday 25 April. 8. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. 10. The Sunday Times. London. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. Culture Magazine. 1-23. Loftus. 2005) and his more recent polemic. Kathryn A. pp. pp. Psychology and Marketing. 2008). Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton.for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak.
J. the Vlasic stork.com sock puppet. 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. the Vodaphone pug. the Borden cow. the Burger King. or the Noid. not entirely. the Bisto family. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. the Gold Blend couple. 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. assorted Scottish Widows and many. the Coppertone Girl. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. Elsie. this is as it should be because “We are people. Howard Brown. a shades-wearing. Bertie Bassett. Anthropomorphically speaking. Veritably Clean. And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. Most of these mentions.R. Johnny English. the Bon Ami . Hartley. Julius Pringles. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%).2 It follows. Captain Birdseye. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. whether it be A Bathing Ape. Morris the Cat. Crazy Eddy. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. Uncle Ben. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22. a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. many more. Of this total. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. are made in passing. the Mytag repair man. Pillsbury Doughboy. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. Joe Isuzu. the HMV dog.151 individual entries. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. Nipper. We know a lot about ourselves. my dataset comprised 1. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. Cheeka. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. After trawling through websites. the Michelin Man. such as Hello Kitty. all told. the Pets. perhaps inevitably. Fido Dido. Colonel Saunders. Ronald McDonald. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. the Hofmeister beer bear.1 Well. Aunt Jemima.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. moreover. the Morton Salt Girl.
South Africa of springboks. seahorses. eagles and horses are popular in America. Birds. the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. dolphins. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. bring up the rear. Camel cigarettes. Aliens.3 A secular trend is evident too. mix. Jaguar cars. mystify. albeit butterflies. the Dodge ram. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. However. cuckoos cause trouble. As you might expect. Puma sportswear. whereby the brand name. Tom Tomato). unsurprisingly. animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. as are personified fruits. turtles and lizards. owls impart wisdom. fecundity. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. Mr Peanut. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear.g. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. Woodpecker cider. Mr Kipling cakes. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. fireflies and. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. whales. Cap’n Crunch cereal. In addition to the overall pattern. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. Penguin books. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. This is very much in keeping . Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. Dove deodorant. for instance. Betty Crocker. vegetables and plants (e. In some cases. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. the logo. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). freedom. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. the Calvin Klein polo pony. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). furthermore. Toilet Duck. Mr Clean. Wild animals are rather less popular. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. France is fond of roosters. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. no less). needless to say. perhaps surprisingly. anthropomorphic mobile phones. the Monster. storks bring children. when the space race. Insects. More recently. Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. 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. ladybirds. India of elephants and so forth. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. multiply. the Lacoste crocodile. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. Shell petrol. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. Californian Raisins. Chiquita Banana. The match model is characterised by congruence. etc).com and Bell Canada beavers. The first of these involves national animals.chickens. spiders. thanks to Steven Spielberg. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). Crocs shoes. Cobra beer. caterpillars. Kangaroos sneakers. the Aflac duck. Australia of kangaroos. Le Coq Sportif. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. Broadly speaking. the Glenfiddich and Deere deer.
Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. the HMV dog. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. Chester. by contrast. begat Chipper. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). the Cheetos cheetah. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. except that they work for free. though. the Budweiser Clydesdales. Maturity is marked by multiplication. way back when. whose name you’ll never ever guess. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. the Airwick ostrich. Geoffrey. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. the MGM lion. is perhaps the . It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. animal mascots are not immortal. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. In effect. indeed. each with their own colourful personality.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. but it doesn’t do brands any harm. The fourth stage. basically speak on behalf of the brand. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. fire-breathing dog with six legs. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. Beauregard. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. glowering. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. the belief that if one critter is good. but the mystify strategy is something else again. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). the Kool cigarettes penguin. Nipper. rarely go off the rails and. Morris. Willie. Larabee. Congenital critter creep is one thing. similarly. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. Since 1994. black. The introductory phase usually involves a Darwinian struggle for survival against competing brand animals or non mascotbased marketing strategies (the Aflac duck was adopted with reluctance and. don’t complain. two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. the Toys R Us giraffe. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. all things considered. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. the Trix rabbit.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. the 9Lives spokescat. the penguin. Multiply. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. That said. Leo. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. believe me).with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. the Hush Puppies basset hound. the Lacoste crocodile. At one stage.
more cuddly.0 – cf.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. if anything. more childlike. etc. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. sexual orientation. wise owls. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. In general terms. The brand character. animals remain fair game. which increases opportunities to view. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. In this regard.most fascinating of all. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. 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. 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. Their characters. like death. gets younger. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity.6 Be that as it may. taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. Pace Goya. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. 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. gender. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. their “natures”. sly foxes. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. perhaps the most important factor behind the fantastic future for brand characters in all their furry finny feathery finery is the fact that it is still permissible to stereotype animal species. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us. religion. uncertainty and rapid technological change. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline. cheeky monkeys. Le Penguin notwithstanding. True. etc. social class.7 Whatever else is . as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). I’ve described that at length elsewhere. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels. stupid cows. their personalities. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. age. nevertheless. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). continue to be caricatured and vilified. more cherubic. the same is not true of animals. promiscuous rabbits etc. so too today’s terrorist outrages. 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. the sleep of reason produces mascots.
trans. is brilliantly described in Arthur O. London. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). 2000). 7. Gould. about our great economic cataclysm. 129. p. check out Stephen Brown. Natural History. 2009. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. The more things change in western capitalism. xi. Lovejoy. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. [original 1962]. 2009). Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. at any rate. www. accessed 4 May 2010. 13 July. griffins. 2001). Cambridge.This worldview. Stewart Guthrie. 3. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. C’est la vie. more submissive. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. BTW. 4. Totemism. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. many of which can fly (dragons. in years to come. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified. 30-36. Note. 2004). Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. 1995). My database. London.said. however. Pegasus and so on). See Al Ries and Jack Trout. 2. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. 89) explains.8 Notes and References 1. Anthropomorphically. 1964. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. far less hardy. “The great American bubble machine”. New York. the more things stay the same. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. 1979. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Cambridge. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. 88 (1). p. 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. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). Tony the Tiger’s only son. The sum effect is arrested development. 8. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. Matt Taibbi. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. 5. “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. incidentally. . p.rollingstone. 1936). which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. Stephen J. pp. London. p. If you want to suffer further. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. Claude Lévi-Strauss.com. 89). phoenixes. Domesticated animals demonstrate it too. Oxford.
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