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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 .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. Tony.
2 There is of course a very good reason why mascots move merchandise. 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. Media comments ranged from the comparatively restrained “partially blinded Tellytubbies”. A postmodern Walter Raleigh. one and all. are testament to the pervasiveness of anthropomorphism. Churchill the Bulldog or the Michelin Man. as are our haircuts (pony-. I don’t know. Mascots move merchandise like nobody’s business. we may even look back on their unveiling as a landmark moment in 21st century marketing. A great mascot. and the animal names adopted by grunting sports teams (Leeds Rhinos. presumably. Sydney Swans). No doubt the doubters will come round to the derided duo in due course. Andersen and Adams. From the cave paintings of Neolithic man. the signs of the Chinese zodiac. to the cartoon capers of Mickey and Minnie. It is ancient and ineradicable.1 Twenty years hence. They are the embodiment of the brand. through the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. There’s one thing I do know for certain. the act of endowing animals with human characteristics. How he got in my pyjamas. is a universal trait. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. The totem poles of native Americans.Animal Crackers A Formal Foreword for Respectable Readers One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. never mind “terrifying penis monsters”. —Groucho Marx On 19 May 2010. like Tony the Tiger. mascots are a crucial component of the marketing mix. We’re anthropomanes. Tom and Jerry and the heroically indefatigable Bugs Bunny. via the “beast fables” of Aesop. They are synonymous with the products and services they sell. Anthropomorphism. is almost as priceless as MasterCard. humankind has never been hesitant to anthropomorphise. pig. however.and duck-tails). A good mascot is worth its weight in gold. 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 constellations in the heavens. Chicago Bears. dance steps . on a par with Marlboro Man’s debut in 1954. the mascots for London’s 2012 Olympics were unveiled to a chorus of disapproval. through the mildly pornographic “two giant mutated phalluses” to the positively unpleasant “looks like someone spat on the ground and draped a Union Jack over it”. Apuleius.
animal spirits. Hence our tendency to see faces in the clouds. which are not so much red in tooth and claw as irredeemably rose-tinted and Disneyfied. big hairy audacious goals. Of all the domains in which anthropomorphism is rampant. limbs and the like. Far Side.9 Business organisations. self- . fat cats. scientists simply can’t help themselves when it comes to cute critters. a tendency that diminishes with age and all-but disappears at adolescence. Fred Basset). SimAnimal. fail whales and weasel words beyond number. because it is in our best interest to do so. it is arguably most rampant in business and management. who are exhorted to resist anything that smacks of anthropomorphism. associated with childhood in particular.4 Regardless of the reasons for humanity’s anthropomorphic inclination. Jean Piaget notes “the tendency among children to consider things as living and conscious”. apes in the corner office. are routinely regarded as organisms. with brains. storytelling squirrels and so forth. the prevalence and persistence of personification has generated considerable academic discussion. welfare. which are often hard to spot in their natural settings. orbiting hairballs.3 For some. companion animals (we treat pets as people) and the kitsch collections of ceramics that clutter our dwellings (formations of flying ducks. Meerkat Manor and Walk on the Wild Side.(foxtrot. bunny hop.7 This is nowhere better illustrated than in wildly popular television programmes like Springwatch. 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. Angry Birds). coupled with recent advances in cognitive ethology – that is. furthermore. getting ducks in a row. it is a developmental trait. everything from product life cycles and marketing myopia to brand DNA and store personality. Getting it right means survival. black swans. If anything. as humankind is increasingly divorced from the natural world through urbanism and industrialisation and computerised intermediation.5 What’s more. dead dogs. find that this is much easier said than done. hearts. attempts to assess creatures’ mental states – have given rise to a whole new appreciation of animal intelligence. It helps us identify potential predators. Needless to say. Ninja Turtles). For others. for example). which considers our earth to be a living. Fables. 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. dancing elephants. wild animals loom ever larger in the collective unconscious. Getting it wrong makes us feel foolish. men on the moon.8 Its gurus peddle parables about purple cows. hidden hands. computer games (EyePet. consciousness. The language of businesspeople is replete with 800lb gorillas. cash cows. anthropomorphism has proliferated in recent years. Widespread concern over animal rights and endangered species. its ubiquity is not in doubt. emotions. Its concepts and theories are predicated on personification. in a kind of managerial equivalent of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis. graphic novels (Maus.6 Even natural scientists. long tails. cheese moving mice. tarantella). lungs. horses in the surf and portraits of Jesus in pepperoni pizzas. cartoon strips (Peanuts. Yet others of an evolutionary psychology persuasion contend that it’s nothing less than a primordial mammalian urge. hive minds. breathing. We see rocks as bears and mistake trees for tigers.
much as I hate the neologism. much less White Fang. Black Beauty. flourish and fight for the right to party. insofar as it features a secondary world. However. a tearful salt cellar who’s been unceremoniously cast onto the condiment scrapheap. it is a book about branding that uses mascots to get its message across. There are lots of books about brands and branding. 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. moreover.11 Viewed in this context. Its ultimate aim. flirt. we are repeatedly and reliably informed. where anthropomorphised creatures frolic. The Way of the Rat. to be more precise. Peacock in a Land of Penguins. Who Moved My Cheese?. The Michelin Man is reinvented as a pumped-up superhero. I’m not for a moment suggesting that The Penguin’s Progress is on a par with. Squirrel Inc. 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. Yakult’s range of probiotic yogurts is chock full of “friendly” bacteria. forage.10 Indeed. Knorr’s low-sodium side dishes are sold with the aid of “Salty”. Winnie-the-Pooh. anthropomorphised branding is still going strong. As such. Meanwhile. I hope to bring branding to life by bringing brand mascots together and placing them in peril. Branding is an incredibly exciting subject. But many of them lack pizzaz.13 This is a book about brand mascots. Watership Down. Who Moved My Blackberry? and Never Mind the Sizzle. They tend to be written in an impersonal manner that is offputting for many readers. plus the not inconsequential benefits of immortality. Undergraduate students especially. Or. It’s a work. It is no accident that the creation of the first brand characters.12 It is also no accident that fifty years after Leo Burnett. Wind in the Willows. which includes such well-known classics as The Goal. Where’s the Sausage? It is also in keeping with the Animal Farm tradition. of edutainment for marketers. Kinder chocolate bars shout “Buy Me. his days as a bon vivant conveniently forgotten. this novel is part of the “business storytelling” tradition. came up with a host of unforgettable marketing “critters” including Tony the Tiger. Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat. is to educate as well as entertain. My aim with The Penguin’s Progress is to replace lifelessness with liveliness. managers and would-be marketing managers. coincided with the piecemeal passage of the company acts. Guinness. albeit a venerable and highly visible one. say. Buy Me” to oddly unperturbed passers-by. I do think it bears at least some resemblance to Shrek. the legendary American adman. who no doubt wonder what’ll happen when the bacteria turn “nasty”. . Call of the Wild or Alice in Wonderland.regulating entity. both tearful and terrifying. A smile is put on the face of the venerable Pepsi logo to make it more personable than before. akin to Narnia or Oz or even Pandora. after a fashion. Brer Rabbit. advertising mascots are but a small component of the anthropophilia that pervades business and management. It’s Dreamworks meets didactics. 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. much to the relief of consumers. is “alive inside”. yet this excitement is sometimes lost in translation. Beatrix Potter and the imperishable Babar.
they are prone to the next big thing thing. better yet. of antipathy. They watch their competitors like a hawk and. they’ll become apparent as the novel unfolds. though. that managers are busy people with a fondness for facts. prosumers. Managers feel the need to make changes. concepts and ideas that are flogged to death on the conference circuit are no less dangerous than competitors’ fighting brands. however. Marketing myopia is shortsighted. they extend the range. is quintessence. The problem with go-to status is that everyone wants more more more when less less less is called for. however. the following key aspects of brands and branding are raised in the yarn that’s about to begin: The Difference That Makes a Difference. hive minds and what have you. Consumers. The Next Big Thing Thing. new whatever). The art of brand management is striking a balance between more haste and less speed.15 The Fifth P is a Q. All the way to Clone City. new offer. have been around for a very long time. new platform. Hopefully. becoming the embodiment.As a storyteller. Products and services do not sell themselves. especially so). pestered to turn to the devil they don’t. standing out from the crowd is more necessary than ever. by and large. I’m hesitant to list the “lessons” that this book contains. Persuasion is the key word here. then. in short. not to say a “take-away” or two. By meaningful distinction he means more than differentiation for differentiation’s sake – you zig. To Thy Own Brand Be True. The 4Ps may be omnipresent but they are not omnipotent. Today’s consumers don’t need more of the same. they . it is matched forthwith. The Customer is Always Right Wing. They increase output. in the mass. The go-to brand. managers’ natural tendency is to make more and more haste. for fear of being left behind. They can be persuaded to want things that are different. I zag – but differentiation that is meaningful to the ultimate consumer. The best loved brands. persuaded. are inherently conservative (raving fans. It is also true of principles. though. Jumping on the brandwagon means that everyone is in the same vehicle and heading in the same direction. all of which are functionally equivalent. Action-minded by inclination. The theories. It’s not that change is best avoided but that precipitate change can backfire. facts and more facts. shake things up and refresh the brand. They don’t need more of anything. Emulation is the hobgoblin of differentiation. if one makes a move (new feature. The late great Theodore Levitt calls this “meaningful distinction”. In a world of identikit products and services. The product life cycle has been the death of many products. Brand managers are understandably inclined to make hay while the sun shines.14 I’m conscious. the exemplification of that niche. The fifth P. like the fifth element. Brand longevity is predicated on occupying a unique niche and. new product. Less is Sore. Despite all the recent talk of co-creation. This follow-the-leader flaw is not confined to practices. the epitome. consumers tend to rely on the devil they know. Corporate time and customer time run at different speeds. long before customers feel that way. Just for you. cajoled. They have been true to themselves and kept their customer promises. The corollary of consumer conservatism is that consistency is crucial. The history of innovation is a litany of negativity. They have to be convinced. frankly. of out-and-out obstinacy. Worse.
free gifts. Zoomorphism is the opposite. likewise. Dumbo. “Crocodile” Dundee. . 4 June.16 Mascots are Not Just for Christmas. Suffice it to say that there are lots of words pertaining to humankind’s anthropo-propensity. anthropomorphism means endowing animals with human characteristics or attributes (consider Bambi. But don’t take my word for it. were once advertised as a “flexible friend”. p. “How does adland view 2012 mascots?”. especially by those with hi-falutin ideas about the rigorous pursuit of marketing science. 2010. The old-timers among you may recall that Access cards. nothing kills brands quicker than ubiquity. 4. But it’s important to appreciate that gimmicks are part and parcel of marketing – pretty important parts and parcels – for the very simple reason that gimmicks work. right? No manager in their right mind will forgo a sale or “leave money on the table”. see Matt Williams. though I treat them all pretty loosely herein. Just as threats can be opportunities and opportunities threats. p. “The pitiful Olympic mascots sum up this sorry affair”. maintains mystique and diminishes customer defection. since brand preferences are often established in childhood and in today’s increasingly infantilised. targeting the child within is no bad thing. there’s one other issue. And there’s some truth is these perceptions. Strictly speaking. 2010 Notes and References 1. they endeavour to meet customers’ burgeoning demands because the customer is always right. 2. I don’t want to get bogged down in terminological matters. Stephen King’s psychopathic automobile. 23 May.These quotes are taken from Catherine Bennett. Donald Duck). Reduced availability increases desire. Christine. The Observer. as was the dismayed £ sign. 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. Oh yeah. as academics like me are inclined to do. 31. “reification”.make the products more readily available. Gratuitous gimmicks like competitions. The card itself was anthropomorphised in the ads. the brand may benefit in the long term. Mascots are often dismissed as gimmicky and childish. Personification refers to giving human characteristics to inanimate things or ideas (the fog in Eliot’s “Prufrock”. However. for instance). Thumper. Animism is the belief that natural objects have souls or possess some spiritual import (volcanic eruptions as the wrath of the gods. so too weaknesses can be strengths and vice versa. 3. It means attributing animal characteristics to humans (“Tiger” Woods. “pathetic fallacy” and “anthropocentrism”. Here’s Bella’s… Stephen Brown June. 2010. which were absorbed into the MasterCard family in 1996. Another thing that diminishes customer defection is the brand mascot. Painful as it is to pass up on a sale. Campaign. “Money”. Richard the Lionheart). is not to be sneezed at. For a marketing industry perspective on the Mandeville and Wenlock debacle. Thomas the Tank Engine). nostalgia-prone world. Other commonly used terms include “totemism”. Childishness.
but contrary to a brand’s best interest. And many of them want to work with the big and furry stuff”. by all accounts. 2008) and Tony Thorne. the character may well go global in due course. 1998. Oxford. Images of Organization. Telling tedious tales tells consumers that the company lacks imagination. The Ape in the Corner Office (Marshall Cavendish. Another useful overview can be found in the first chapter of Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman. They are bland at best and boring at worst. 2005). The companies acts. 1992). 2007). updated edition (Sage. 2010. 1993). 19. Cambridge. . Faces in the Clouds (OUP. pays lip service to creativity and is a fad follower not a market leader. Incidentally. See. Meerkats are quite closely related to mongooses. The Sunday Times. rhinos and giraffes are not found in equatorial rainforests. New York. 17 January. The only problem of course is that most brand narratives are crafted by PR departments rather than storytellers proper. Kennedy. p. do in fact eat their young and their tunnelling abilities. pp. 24 (3). 215). Thinking With Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (Columbia University Press. The quote is from David Adam and Celia Cole. Isabelline penguins are put upon by others. A Kalahari meerkat wouldn’t last five minutes in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. 2010. The hugely successful “Salty” spots are confined to Canada at present. Gareth Morgan. They fail to appreciate that conflict. 11. makes no claim to zoological accuracy. But as Knorr is a Unilever brand. Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life (Penguin. 343-373. Needless to say. Journal of Consumer Research. the key statement is John S. it’s not completely inaccurate either. 13. the Piaget quote in this paragraph is borrowed from Guthrie (p. 15. The Observer. nevertheless. It’s full of animal errors. “Smarter than you think”. My old friend Susan Fournier has written the classic article on this subject: “Consumers and their brands: developing relationship theory in consumer research”. Why Look at Animals (Penguin. stories are on the up and up. 14. London. 23 May. 2005). Naturally. nowhere is the copy-cat character of corporate life better illustrated than in the recent fad for storytelling! Whereas slogans are passé and mission statements old hat. Several additional “explanations” have been put forward. A nasty African ibis really does prey on innocent penguins. A story without conflict is not only anodyne. p. London. insipid. The contemporaneous passage of copyright and trademark legislation were of course the crucial developments here. John Berger. On scientific antipathy to anthropomorphism. Penguins do not foregather in unruly crowds of divergent species. soporific and so forth. for example. don’t be ugly…be cute”. The New Anthropomorphism (CUP. struggle and triumph over seemingly impossible odds are central to creating engaging narratives. London. 5. 10. 2009). This book. Richard Conniff. 14. Jonathan Leake and Georgia Warren. are second to none. Penguins have been kitted out in bespoke body suits. London. created conditions conducive to such commercial developments. 9. a conservation scientist at the University of Pretoria.4. “Scientists are people too. Lions. According to Morgan Trimble. 7. London. 12. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. See Stewart Guthrie’s seminal study of anthropomorphism. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea (Phoenix. The gay penguins Silo and Roy do indeed reside in Central Park Zoo. BTW. 6. “If you want to survive. 8. 2006).
. It’s less relevant to everyday convenience goods. This truism only pertains to speciality goods and services. salt. The equivalent issue in the latter categories is commodification. sugar and so on).16.). though not completely unknown (when there are shortages of bread. where brand differences are considered inconsequential and they’re all pretty much of a muchness (petrol. etc. bottled water.
The Penguin’s Progress .
No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .
Part I Adarctica Calling .
Bella refused to pander to her egotistical pal. “It’s a Silo & Roy. her oldest friend and as pretty a penguin as you could possibly meet. a joint venture with Versace. Penguins the world over were flipping out over their slim-fit. The fad started innocently enough. a polished sheet of ice that flattered to deceive. or simply irresistible?” Puckishly. Not only were they completely unnecessary. Paris Humboldt was an alluring exception to the rule. gloves. Silo and Roy. The S&R logo. trying to catch a glimpse of her pert posterior. that she squandered her trust fund on fashionable fripperies. berets. hot to trot. She twisted and turned.Chapter One Where the Wild Brands Are “Does my tail look trim in this?” Bella rolled her eyes and sighed. a cute cracked eggshell containing a rare fairy penguin. was almost as well known as . Fond as she was of Paris Humboldt. “Pelican pink is so this season. figure-hugging. flipper-filler and suchlike – instead of building herself up for harsh winters ahead. seized on the idea and turned it into a money-spinning line of multi-coloured outerwear.” Paris pouted. Pounds too. Bella Adélie shook her head. It was then picked up by animal fashionistas in Madhattan. the world famous gay chinstraps in Central Park Zoo. beakaplasty. the girl’s selfregard was off the scale. much less the scandalised murmurings of embittered emperors. reactionary rockhoppers or meanspirited magellanics. She needn’t have bothered.” she said. Fashion. struggling to keep her face straight. Although penguins aren’t renowned for their svelte figures. one-piece costumes. She made Tony the Tiger look shy and retiring. what do you think? Am I way cool.” The tease worked. She had more important things on her mind. scrutinising her shimmering reflection. when a rough rubber outfit was thrown together for a featherless Jackass penguin in a Californian aquarium. Pastels put years on penguins with your colouring. “Seriously. which the camp couturiers cannily accessorised with scarves. but the prices being charged for “designer label” wetsuits simply beggared belief. “I’m not sure pink suits you. Paris. bending this way and that. for one. Where was it going to end? The fashion for wetsuits was getting out of hand. that she indulged in all sorts of reckless cosmetic surgery – blubosuction. and craned anxiously over her shoulder. Paris flounced back to her vanity mirror.” Exasperated. Some cynics in the colony contended that the airhead heiress had more shekels than sense. moonboots and of course their signature sweat pants. you know. But Paris Humboldt didn’t give a fig for gossiping gentoos. “Hmmm. She smoothed the lines of her slinky wetsuit.
darling. the mangy mottled outcasts of the species? Paris never pecked at her like the rest. Bella. Consequently. smiled.Armani’s stylised eagle. wouldn’t be wearing Silo & Roy anytime soon. others contended. But Paris’s illconsidered comment was cutting for all that. crunchy crustaceans. Supremely confident in her impeccable taste. It’s delish.” Bella replied lightly. a spoiled rich kid. iPods to dolphins. You’ll be grateful for it when the weather turns nasty. kicked up a heel. shoals of plump icefish and abundant Big Macs discarded by tubby tourists on passing passenger vessels. An egomaniac. wiggling her manicured flipper in a cautionary manner. you should be more careful. as she so often did. “I’m sorry. But Bella knew better.” Bella mumbled. Paris. “I…I…forgot…” “Not a problem. “Ronald’s outdone himself again. “Mmmmm. truffling through the sodden packaging of an abandoned Happy Meal. Or several. in truth. Her ambition was to meet Ronald McDonald. “With your genes. Adarctica was exquisite at this time of year. the IT guru who’d made a fortune selling sat-navs to salmon. Bella. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. The heiress sashayed in front of the ice mirror. some said.” She said it without thinking. an odious fashion victim who was corrupting Adarctica’s impressionable young. She had known Paris since they were newly hatched – on the same day. “Hefty hips are the least of my problems. and share a McFlurry with the great man. admiring her outfit. the temperature hovered around freezing. A sob stuck in her crop. Paris never made disparaging comments about Bella’s “pigmentation problem”. Paris never refused to visit Bella’s parents’ nest in the isabelline ghetto at the far end of the beach. She adored McDonald’s.” “That stuff goes straight on the hips. And Paris Humboldt owned the only one in the southern hemisphere.” A tear sprang to Paris’s eye. wiggled her tail feathers and shimmied along the pebble-strewn beach towards a conveniently reflective rock pool. simpered. Auto-Tune to humpbacks and RFID tags for emperor penguin chicks. the heiress was well aware of her lucky start in life.” Paris stuttered. Paris never spat in her face or called her a dirty smelly half-breed. The only daughter of Hiram Humboldt. or her lack of suitors come breeding season or . Their new season wetsuits were to die for. and the feeding grounds were swollen with fresh krill. yet others complained. which was tantamount to tropical. Hermes’ horse-drawn carriage or Juicy Couture’s highland terriers. How many other blue-bloods would consort with an isabelline penguin. she twirled. For all her selfabsorption. You should try some of this. Her narcissistic personality didn’t lend itself to sensitivity. realising from her companion’s forlorn expression that she’d overstepped the mark. The sea was calm. whirled. let alone sensitivity to lesser breeds. Not unless they produced a line of penguin control pants. Paris was a privileged a penguin as there could possibly be. the wind was light. she was a bit roomy at the rear. the sky was blue. Mmmmm. I’m lovin it. As a distant descendant of the P-P-PPenguin chocolate bar dynasty. in the same communal nest – and could vouch for the generosity of spirit that was hidden beneath her often vapid exterior.” Paris warned. Bella Adélie was not averse to a nourishing nibble.
followed by Kentucky Fried Crustacean. Day-glo flamingo was wayto-go on the ice-floe. if truth be told – but this was no time for sensitivity. her uniqueness.” Bella ignored the sausage remark. Paris. The animals return to Central Park during Fashion Week.” “Not casting as in casting my tail feathers. Paris wiped her eyes. scampered across the pebble-spattered beach and lurched to a halt beside her best friend. “Come here immediately. you silly sausage! Casting as in I’m up for a part. much better than black. Hence the hard graft on my sassy catwalk shimmy. her gene pool. she’d abandoned the time-honoured South Pole diet – eat early. On the contrary. bar none. “Get this down your gullet. Right now. Brown was the new black. They’re making another Madagascar movie. Casting next week. Cognisant of what sentimental blubbering could do to the complexion. “Don’t be a silly billy. if she was related to a leopard seal. to believe that beautiful blotchy brown was much.” . a melting sliver of pack ice that protruded into the bay.” Bella said. starve now. The wetsuit not only put pounds on Paris but it disguised the dietary regime she’d obviously been pursuing. where elephant seal pups frolicked. Okay. I trust. “No can do. Paris sauntered to the end of the catwalk. fast later. The unstable ice tongue bobbed up and down as the heiress promenaded. They looked delicious. look a little like a lightly cooked chipolata – a jumbo Cumberland. in fact. like hedge-hopping rainbows. Bella. black and more black. Clearly. admittedly. Her raucous squawk echoed across the balmy bay. Penguin porn degrades our species. posing provocatively. I’ve got something for you. Except that pink was now in. What on earth was she thinking of? “Paris.” Bella commanded. We’re going to Krispy Krill’s. you’re moulting already? This is getting beyond a joke. flicking open the Happy Meal container. Bella. clapped her flippers and put the negative vibe behind her. Watch my walk and tell me what you think. “Here. Cerise was chichi. You’re coming with me to the food court. She urged her to flaunt her piebald appearance.” “What. Bella was shocked at the sight of her emaciated companion. eat often – for the temporary trendy South Beach diet. Darling. “What do you reckon?” she called. But Paris declined. sniggering.” Resplendent in her bright pink wetsuit. “Okay. sperm whales surfaced with a snort and flying fish skimmed close to the surface. surely you know that. She did.” Paris exploded with laughter. Paris. Gastric band. 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. Be honest.” “Oh goodie.asked.” She cast aside the plastic collectibles and gathered up a beak-full of frozen French Fries. she pressed Bella to take pride in her colouring. A gift? Tiffany.” Paris bounced up the crumbling ice spur. flipper on hip. “I hope it’s not one of those steamy South Pole-dancing parts. followed by the International House of Fishcakes. I won’t take no for an answer. I’m screen-testing for Skipper’s supermodel love interest.
She knew that the part was hers. right?” “Le Tigre. snapping away like the late great Irving Pennguin. apparently. Bella sprinted down the ominously cracking catwalk. curled her delicate flippers in Le Tigre and snarled as best she could. “Do you want me to come with you? I hear it’s very dangerous in Madhattan. “It won’t take long. “Can I have a photo to remember you by?” “Oh yes!” the fashion victim yelped. 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.” Before Bella could open her beak to say anything. She got to the end and surveyed the scene. “I always carry one. pulled out a super-slim Samsung camera and handed it to her bosom buddy.” she said with an apologetic smirk. you know how it is in showbiz.” “No. I’m unlikely to get the part anyway. The role’s already in the bag. Her face was a frozen mask.” “Well. Bella. She turned to her companion on shore. I’m not properly trained like zoo-bred types. never mind “this’ll do fine”.” Bella knew very well.“And the drastic gastric band. A prancing sea horse?” They all looked the same to Bella. She reached into her luxury wetsuit. “Why not take a shot of me on the catwalk? The light’s better out there.” the soon-to-be superstar said. I’ll be fine. tossed her up into the air. I’ll be back before you can say crested rockhopper. just in case. Bella mused. She knew that Paris’s affluent pop was a major investor in Dreamworks.” Paris doth protest too much. “Tell you what.” “Grrrr. “Grrrrrrrr. as was the polar predator’s wont.” Bella shouted back. leopard seal?” “How’s about Ferrari?” “Don’t tell me. oblivious to the threat. the Humboldt heiress was hurrying toward the hazardous runway. But then most penguins’ were in the southern hemisphere. She flounced along the fragile ice spur. “Grrr. if not before. She knew better than to pour cold water on her close friend’s hopes and dreams. wiggling her tail feathers with glee. the nay-sayers might say – a malleable model for soft toys and action figurines.” “Whatever you say. She knew that humboldt penguins were notorious for their nepotism.” Filling up. She knew that Paris would soon be part of the plastic collectables package – aptly. The ravenous creature grabbed Paris Humboldt from behind. a spokespenguin for musky fragrances and carbonated beverages. then dragged her broken body beneath the gently rolling swell. Penguinapping is commonplace. maybe?” “Um. They’ve been performing since incubation. Grrrrr. Panic stricken.” growled a gigantic leopard seal. “So which Zoolander pose do you prefer? Bluefin?” “That’s the tuna. as anyone would. even without the runway routine and designer label wetsuit. Paris hugged her mottled companion. as it roared out of the blue-green briny with suppertime in mind. hoping against hope that .
A dismembered limb. . There was no sign of life. her to-diefor Silo & Roy. her designer pride and joy.Paris had escaped the vicious creature’s clutches. she fished the outfit out. Bella wept. Bloodstained. Tearful. Sodden. indeed. Ripped. It was Paris’s pink wetsuit. To die for. Aghast. Bella took a closer look. bobbed against the disintegrating walkway. bitten and bloody. A rapidly spreading crimson plume curled just below the surface.
species and stripe. But the great gathering on the glacier was reverential. deserved to be left wondering about the fate of a missing child. overlooking picturesque Burberry Bay. Bella picked up her best friend’s blood-soaked wetsuit. expectant. Blamed. No parent. stumbled toward the shoreline. Gentoos. hushed. especially isabelline adélies from the wrong side of the rocks. pausing only to watch a group of juvenile gentoos hurl themselves into a steep crevasse which plunged all the way to X-box Bay. looking disdainfully at the rabble around them. It wasn’t the kind of place that made isabellines welcome. nevertheless. But Bella felt obliged to break the bad news to Paris’s parents.Chapter Two The Pied Penguin The Humboldts lived on the far side of the colony. the company’s impertinent penguin mascot – frantically fingering their keyboards. onto its snow-strewn top. With a heavy heart. like stones across a millpond. where the other half lived and isabellines rarely ventured. the views were spectacular. BrandLand was truly beautiful. Distraught. A colossal screen flickered into life at the far end of the bird-filled basin. more likely. There were knots of kings. belching. The air was sharper up on Sony Playstation Plateau. weeping all the while. Oddly. frantically fiddling with USBs and frantically testing webcam connections. the agglomeration was completely silent. overcome with grief. A microphone screeched. clusters of chinstraps. It was filled with a multitude of penguins. are as garrulous as they come and rockhoppers are never less than noisy. bellowing elephant seals. Bella trudged along the glacier lip. in the lee of the LG glacier. as everyone knows. Bella knew that she wouldn’t be thanked for her actions. She clambered to the top of a heavily rutted ridge. penguins of every imaginable breed. perhaps. the polar sky was immeasurably immense. and emerged huffing and puffing. cut into the deeply crevassed glacier. More disconcerting still was the instantly recognisable voice being broadcast to the . Stifling a sob. Reported to the penguin police force. where she paused to catch her breath. What else could she do? It was her duty. Picking up speed as they descended. the high-spirited youngsters shot out into the flat-calm cove below. Unimpressed by the adolescents’ madness. Bella could just see a crowd of Linux technicians – all spitting images of Tux. She could see all the way to the Wii Sea and the Intel Ocean beyond. Waddling waywardly along the treacherous ice tongue. with a disconcerting slapping sound reminiscent of rifles being shouldered. masses of mean lean macaronis and even a detachment of emperors. bands of blackfoots. Flippers flew to ears across the assembly. she clambered up the ice steps. Bella turned inland toward the Rolex Oyster Rookery. even an alleged “airhead heiress” like Paris. she picked her way across the rock-covered beach and edged past the basking. She threw the abomination over her flipper and. The sun was stronger. A vast shallow hollow lay before her. In more ways than one.
the world supported by humankind’s prodigious advertising spend – the world that gave the world such . she had no alternative. which was a far from perfect fit but covered the biggest of her brown blotches. Lookin’ good. As the long way round would have taken forever. A round of applause rolled up from the audience. who looked as though he’d dined long and lustily on the finest fresh crustaceans and supersucculent stir-fried squid.. Not now. They couldn’t be trusted. Curiously. having experienced anti-Isabelline discrimination since she was knee high to a skua.Your kind isn’t welcome…You shouldn’t be here.” Le Penguin announced to his stunned audience. Adarctica was melting at an unprecedented rate. the sapphire-studded collar. Bella decided that discretion was the better part of Velcro. some bristled their feathers. there was a world of difference between low-level antagonism and full-frontal flipper attack. blubbery macaroni. cheating layabouts. Her rate of progress improved immediately. The big screens flickered and fuzzed and fizzled and finally settled on the fearsome features of an enormous Alaskan malamute. She was transfixed by its appearance: the unnaturally white fangs. she slipped into Paris’s pink wetsuit. “Nice outfit.” Bella found it difficult to concentrate on the canine consultant’s introductory remarks. He’s a senior bite president at McHusky. others pinched their beaks pretending that a petrel had pooped nearby. Bella began to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. had obviously been crimped and coloured and backcombed for the occasion. With the rapt crowd in the crook of his flipper. nodding their approval. the unmistakable air of impeccable breeding and the overwhelming sense that. who were no-good. bloated.. Jean-Marie Le Penguin was a big. the carefully clipped pelt. A few snooty royals turned to attack. His company was commissioned by ACME Inc to assess the performance of its animal brand portfolio. double-dealing. as the big screens flashed the necessary subtitles. Although she was well used to hostility. When a scowling macaroni lashed out at her and a nasty jackass adopted an aggressive kung-fu panda stance. “is Dr Dogeatdog. Her presence was not appreciated. Numerous fashion lovers stepped aside. 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. husky or not. Mutterings of invective followed her through the crowd. though. His crest. Not never. Dr Dogeatdog had never pulled a sled in its life. It was magnificent. Devils in disguise. bitch. a gigantic orange confection akin to a cockatoo’s.multitudes. Hesitantly. Le Penguin introduced the next speaker. isn’t it?” The cracked egg logo cut a swath through the throng. yammering away in that weird adéliesperanto which no one quite understood. As the image segued from pedigree presenter to his PawPoint presentation. the kill-or-be-killed management consultants. BrandLand. Until the crowd closed up. It was Pingu! Pingu was back among his people. 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. S&R. “This.” Several emperors pecked at her as she passed. “Dirty isabelline…Stinking half-breed. as the star took to the stage. he saved his most cruel comments for humankind. lying.
plus raised flippers placed by the side of the beak. The bottom line is that there’s been a backlash against your breed. The dream world of advertising was in danger of collapsing into the real world of humankind. in other words. with much ruffling of feathers and shuffling of feet. Over. and bullshit that had sustained BrandLand for decades was deflating rapidly. “the Advertising Character Management Executive invited McHusky to examine the animal icon situation and make appropriate recommendations. Out. The bubble of blarney. Extensive empirical research reveals that humankind is suffering from flipper fatigue. Worldwide advertising revenue was falling precipitously. “ACME. your Oscar-winning performance in March of the Penguins and your show stealing antics in the Madagascar franchise. ACME. Penguins have jumped the shark. Your stunning success with Happy Feet. Out. It took several minutes and an imperious plea from Le Penguin before the penguins settled down. “After careful consideration and a strategic analysis of the situation. with disastrous consequences for all brand animals. Out. blether. ACME’s chief executive. Humboldts harrumphed how-dare-they. eventually brought the hostile crowd under control. ACME.” The uproar was indescribable. what little spend there was was being redirected into on-line. overstretched. engineered by Le Penguin’s Linux-trained technicians. Charlie the Tuna. “Six weeks ago. An audible gasp of shock and horror rose from the audience and hung in the frozen air like the calm before the ice-storm. Emperors exploded in anger.” Screeches of feedback. has concluded that a cull is called for. not until the hype bubble is restored to rude health. Out. A period of temporary retrenchment is necessary if the brand is to flourish in the long . Worse. If there’s one thing marketing teaches us. Penguins have saturated the market. bluster. Out. to be precise. have unwittingly undermined penguins’ brand equity. Dr Dogeatdog continued his video-link exposition. unperturbed by the distant disturbance. however. Snowballs were hurled at the screen in disgust. Whatever happened. my arse” echoed around the ice basin. Shouts of “ACME. Worse was to come from the canine. and repeated at ever-louder volumes. BrandLand was doomed to extinction unless advertising spend and advertising species were brought into better balance.luminaries as the Jolly Green Giant. ACME. This was quickly flowed by an earshattering penguin outburst. ACME. preferring conspiratorial nods and winks and sideways glances. and that’s saying something. it’s that wild popularity is a precursor to extreme antipathy. on account of the drastic economic recession. There are more penguin mascots nowadays than there are teddy bears. The kings kept their own council. Out. they’d be okay. the legendary Mr Kipling. ACME. Rockhoppers made rude remarks about advertising types. A spontaneous chant of protest commenced at one end of the crowd and was swiftly picked up by the remainder. Penguins are out of fashion. A 10% cull. Cadbury’s drumming gorilla and the Pillsbury Doughboy – was in the throes of an ecological catastrophe. clickthrough pop-ups – or word-of-mouth marketing campaigns – rather than brand character building like before.” Dogeatdog reported. The penguin brand is overexposed. oversold. The penguin population can’t be sustained at its present level. Gentoos gabbled hysterically in a great garbled polyglot. the worst in living memory.
if the least high profile. There were no dissenting voices. The multitude fell silent once more. No. his raddled face set in serious mien. We’ve got to accept that ACME’s ruling is a good thing.” he began. It was a done deal.” Le Penguin croaked. by far the most populous penguin species. their representatives had unanimously decided that every penguin species should contribute to the cull. a blessing in disguise. He announced that his own macaronis. Le Penguin raised a gnarled flipper to silence his unhappy campers. We’ve turned Club Penguin into children’s social networking website of choice. No penguin pain. “Fellow penguins. no penguin gain. Agreed?” “Yessssss!” The crowd roared its approval.term. a Lion bar being devoured in cold blood by Geoffrey. when we should be braving the chill like our forebears. They know what needs to be done. He reported that the emperors. I recommend we extinguish the carriers of mutant mottled genes. agreed? Ten percent of the penguin population is isabelline. We pay ransoms to leopard seals instead of outsmarting them like before. The decision is yours. “Brothers and sisters. We wear coats and scarves and wetsuits to keep warm. and failing…with gruesome brand consequences. Why would there be? . But we’ve grown fat and lazy and greedy and self-indulgent. We play extreme sports rather than perfect our fishing skills. Good day to you all. We’ve cornered the mascot market. the Toys ’R Us giraffe.” The big screen went blank. agreed? Isabellines are a blight on all of our breeds. I believe we can kill two troublesome birds with one carefully aimed stone. had generously volunteered to take the hit on behalf of everyone. after sounding out the elders and weighing up the offers. an ageing Fiat Panda trying to escape the clutches of a ravenous Jaguar S-Type. However. even more extreme measures may prove necessary. “We are required to reduce our number by 10%. No. We’ve got to face facts. he paused for effect. his voice a low-throated rumble. “the last few years have been good for us. only to be replaced by a cinemascope-sized image of Jean-Marie Le Penguin. if advertising spend continues to decline at its present rate. We’ve got to get back to basics. Indeed. We’ve eclipsed teddy bears as the world’s favourite soft toy. as startling images of BrandLand’s marketing turmoil appeared on the big screen: the Jolly Green Giant stumbling around barren fields crying No. He explained that he’d entered into discussions with each breed’s elders. We’ve got to recognise that Mr Kipling is right. as the order’s most overexposed species. agreed? I suggest we round up the isabellines. Your leaders have already been appraised of the situation. were also prepared to sacrifice themselves on behalf of more photogenic breeds like adélies. “there is a simple solution to our unwelcome dilemma.” Ever the showman. We’ve been associated with more merchandise than any animal brand bar Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. chinstraps and gentoos. We’ve enjoyed spectacular success.” 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.
And they’d paid a heavy price for it. Bella was falling behind. Bella was too frightened to squawk with fear. their difference. Digging in her heels made no difference. Pushing and shoving her way past clusters of chattering chinstraps. If not quite the Cresta Run for crested penguins. was almost entirely frictionless. Her parents were dead meat. She bounced from wall to wall as her speed picked up. The superslick surface. worse even than the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. Although the fissure was little more than a ghetto for gentoos. humboldts and blue fairies – or anyone who bore the blotch of the beast – it afforded a degree of protection from predatory skuas and sheathbills. On the contrary. She had to do something. Bella jumped feet first into the void. they were at the forefront of the campaign for pigmented penguins’ rights. it was a death trap. As prominent members of the Isabelline community. where they lived in a cramped cleft in the cliffs. it came pretty close. Far from being ashamed of their “taint”. Isaac and Nina Adélie had been driven to the edge of the colony. with murder in mind. Since seeing what was coming was even worse than blind fear. she swished and swooshed from side to side of the glassy. Bella stared into the chasm. Persecuted by right wing roughnecks. polished by the plump rumps and tufted tailfeathers of innumerable hurtling youngsters. Bella darted to the top of the crevasse she’d spotted earlier. with only occasional shafts of blue reflected light to illuminate the precipitous path ahead. could not protect isabellines from phalanxes of angry penguins with massacre in mind. Praying that Paris’s pink prophylactic was as protective as she’d claimed. Petrified. She had to warn them. The hostile crowd was already dispersing. they’d taken pride in their otherness. There was no time to waste. 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. Paris’s parents would have to wait. They had determined looks on their faces and duty-calls swaggers in their step. A column of flint-eyed emperors stomped out of the glacial bowl toward the flight of ice steps that zigzagged to the beach. There was only one thing for it. anything.Chapter Three Ciao Bella Bella’s first thought was for her parents. The rookery nook. since the prevention of death took precedence over passing on news of her friend’s unfortunate fate. She had to get home before Le Penguin’s purge commenced. pitch-black ice tunnel. the terrifying penguin legend that her mad Uncle Isadore told her as a child and gave her sleepless nights ever since. She didn’t like heights at the best of times and dropping from a very great height at very high speed was her very worst nightmare. as well as prejudiced perpetrators of penguin hate crime. rockhoppers. breathing heavily. however. their marvellously mottled appearance. she closed .
By the time Bella arrived at the far side of the cove. Sympathetic as Bella felt toward “vermin”. They’d been put down in the Adarctic equivalent of Kristallnacht. Bella paused at the mouth of the cave. Anguished. Only the dripping of melt-water and the hollow moan of an on-shore breeze. only to see a solid wall of death directly ahead. rats were wreaking havoc in Adarctica’s delicate ecosystem. yet with a mounting sense of dread. close to her parents’ nest. deserted.” . she was not only breathless but exhilarated beyond her wildest imaginings. disturbed the eerie silence. turn and warp-speed surge into the blinding late-afternoon light. licking his lips. 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. The guano-covered grotto was deserted. hunched behind a boulder. backing it into a corner. Ffffffft. carooming. A couple of soon-to-hatch adélie eggs sat. you slimy son of a sheathbill. Luckily. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. twitching. who art in heaven… On several occasions during her hell-for-feather descent. in the community’s communal crèche. And failed. It was a predator…a carrion collector…a slinking stinking scavenger of some kind. panting with exhaustion. It was completely devoid of life. The gentoos’ smooth groove carried her hard left. What was that? Bella cocked an ear. relaxed too soon and was completely unprepared for the final twist. was ripped to shreds. she clambered over the rocky detritus. They were almost as detested as Isabellines. but a great divide in the path. Excitedly. It stopped. most likely. skimming. she advanced toward the creature. Ffft. Some nests were still warm. its padding having paid the price of the penguin’s supersonic splashdown. She opened her eyes fractionally. Inadvertently introduced by idiotic humans. A skua turned to attack but it couldn’t keep up with the allegedly flightless adélie. Flippers fully extended. A petrel. scrambling past flatulent elephant seals as she went. She removed the go-faster garment and hurried toward the family rookery. A dark shadow darted along the rear wall. Her heartfelt squawk echoed back from the empty rookery. Waddling as fast as her stubby rubbery legs could carry her. Ffffft.her eyes and muttered a penguin prayer of deliverance. if only because she’d been so described on countless occasions. Then stopped. A crab. Bella cried out. but she zipped past before he’d time to snaffle the speeding package of fast food. A dirty rotten rat. probably. Then started again. it wasn’t a wall. hoping against hope that some of her kind had escaped Le Penguin’s clutches. She screeched and tried to stop. Fffft. They’d been taken away and taken out. Fffft. Our Flipper. There wasn’t an isabelline to be seen. Ffft. possibly. Something was moving. The wetsuit. though. A large leopard seal loomed before her. They’d been rounded up already. She was even less prepared for the sling-shot experience of bouncing. There was a snuffling sound from the rear of the cave. “I’ve got you now. surfing across the unruffled surface of X-Box Bay. She didn’t know which way to turn. she wasn’t letting a rat eat her species’ unguarded eggs or fill its belly while fellow isabellines suffered.
you disgusting wetback. the most southerly part of the southern hemisphere. among my blue-blood meerkat brethren. inhaled deeply in a self-dramatising fashion – head angled. sharp-faced. “But I do know that if you don’t get your scrawny ratass out of my rookery. “I assume you’re familiar with my work. “Aleksandr Orlov. London’s over there somewhere. at your service.Astonishingly. the proud possessor of 600. “I haven’t finished with you yet.” She jerked a flipper over her shoulder.” the penguin snarled. I think you have.” he drawled. I am a direct descendant of the Romanov royal family (meerkat line) and. Sleepy.” He clicked his claws with an echoing clack. 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.” Bella didn’t know she knew language like that. staring deeply into Bella’s eyes. paused to light up with much flicking and clicking of a vintage Dunhill Rollagas. Orlov sucked on his cigarette. all things considered.” “Simples?” “Simples.” “Oh.” Bella was at a loss. my TV ads were voted the third most popular of the decade just past. I doubled the market share of my sponsoring organisation in less than a year. Don’t you know who I am?” “No. Taken aback. We know a . my achievements make me the world’s most beloved brand character since the glory days of the Honey Monster. “and whose army?” With an arrogant expression. dragging deeply. I am the face of a price comparison website. You are feeling sleepy. Bella coughed and spluttered and retched in a most unbecoming manner.6 million hits on my homepage. Towering head and shoulders above her. “Never…cough…Heard of you…cough…Am I…splutter… missing something…splutter?” “I’ll say. the slender-torsoed. you understand. The Russian steppes are thataway. My catchphrase is Simples. She felt the Happy Meal rise in her gorge. trying her best to appear menacing.” he sighed. my dear.” Orlov said. “How dare you address me like that. I’ll rip your twitching whiskers off and shove them where the sun don’t shine. though the exact direction didn’t really matter.” Bella was baffled.000 Facebook friends. bless his cotton candy socks. Sleepy. Not in a good way. “Modesty forbids. but I am big in Britain and Russia and. a beautifully embroidered smoking jacket. 32. eagle-eyed animal fussily adjusted its slim-fit outfit. a most-viewed superstar of YouTube.000 Twitter followers and 3. “What on earth are you doing here? This is Adarctica. “Sleepy.” he drawled. a radio talk-show compère. “You. The point was that Orlov’s explanation was thinner than the IBM Ice Shelf around Oracle Island. of course. with the merest lift of an eyebrow at Bella’s unseemly behaviour. erect-eared. flicked a tiny deposit of ash from his beautiful tasselled jacket and made to step around the antagonistic adélie. Very. “Meerkats are part of the mongoose family. the obstreperous animal extracted a packet of Lark low-tar cigarettes from the side pocket his pale blue smoking jacket. I don’t know who you are. the rodent rose to its full height and stared at Bella contemptuously. Very.
Not so Simples now. ready to do Le Penguin’s malevolent bidding. Flippers on hips. Advertising awards.” He winked. “Simples. Enormous name recognition.” A regiment of red-chested emperors stood line abreast across the beach. a brand spokesrodent for Levi’s jeans. meerkat. Bella suddenly remembered that she’d lost her pretty pink camouflage. The S&R wetsuit lay. “Too late. “Flat Eric. “Suit yourself.” “Oh yes? Who’s that? Maybe I know him. he dropped off the grid. I don’t intend to be a flash in the pan like so many marketing fads. Orlov rattled out an abbreviated explanation. much less dun-coloured rodents. 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. 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. surely?” The meerkat adjusted his jacket with more fuss than was strictly necessary. long life expectancy operation of some kind or other.” But Bella beat him to it. as I’m not sure where Mr Kipling is based. perhaps we could pool our resources.” “Flat Eric?” “Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. where he runs an advertising character maintenance experiment. He looked around.” Orlov looked at Bella askance. He knows the score. stubbed out his cigarette and headed for the entrance to the cave.” “Mmmmm. other than a nervous twitch of his nostrils. I’m looking for someone. Hit singles. They looked resolute. However. she was first in line for the chop.” Bella shook her head. where she’d left it. I was hoping to pick his brain about brand longevity. um. I heard that he’d moved to Adarctica. not to say subliminal advertising. . as if taking in the cave for the first time.” With a glottal gabble. She had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Two species are better than one. right beside the isabelline refuge.” “I see. “I don’t think so.thing or two about hypnotism. But I prefer not to mix with the. Jean-Marie Le Penguin? Dr Dogeatdog? Not Pingu. if you must know. “Not so fast Mr Mongoose. she blocked his path. Can I go now?” “Advertising Character Maintenance Experiment? Is that anything to do with ACME. a sock puppet. “He was a sort of soft toy. We meerkats are social animals.” he said.” “It’s just that I have a bone to pick with ACME and. “Well. Nor did Orlov.” He made to go. Flat Eric’s been there. avian classes. ripped and ragged. “Sorry. As the only mottled penguin in residence. but was interrupted by a shuffling sound outside. They’re here. who was huge back in the days before YouTube.” Bella started to step aside. It’s a life-long learning. the Advertising Character Management Enterprise?” “I have no idea. “since you put it like that.
Part II BrandLand Ho! .
but nothing like it used to be. She could hear them discussing their strategy.” “Where to?” “The bolthole. Every second was precious. their bayonet beaks stood ready to rip. ever-upward. “are the finest tunnellers on the planet. who stopped again. there’s an old bolthole at the back but it’s filled with snow and ice. stab. Her unladylike oaths carried back to the emperors. proved an encumbrance in the confines of the cleft.” A cascade of ice chips spurted between Orlov’s hind legs. The old enmities are behind us. which would represent an unacceptable blow to the Praetorian penguins’ pride.” Orlov gasped over his shoulder. She struggled to keep up. There’s nothing we can’t bore through. By the time she reached the snow-choked funnel. There’s still a bit of discrimination. smart enough to appreciate that intra-breed antagonism damages overall brand equity. suspecting a trap. clawing like crazy. scurrying. this stuff is Stork supersoft margarine. tripping and tumbling tail-over-teat in the gloom. searching for the ice. uncompromising. The low ceiling forced them to duck and hunker and curse the unspeakable piebald creatures that visited such indignities upon their royal personages. which stood them in good stead on glaciers. They paused at the mouth of the cave. not unless they let the jackasses or macaronis take over. as he excavated ever-faster. Orlov seized the moment. her new-found friend was already half a metre into the compacted powder. . “Well.Chapter Four The Axe Man Cometh The front rank of emperors swaggered up the shingle and over the rocks. mercifully. the imperious emperors advanced slowly into the rookery.” Before Bella had time to remind the rodent that the rear passage was plugged.” “And you believed them? We Russians know better than that!” Fearing an isabelline rearguard action. “Let’s go. “Is there another way out of here?” Orlov whispered to his cornered companion. They told us that the anti-Isabelline purges were a thing of the past. blocking out the bright sunlight. Bella snuggled in behind him and. although the fit was tight.and snow-filled shaft. ice sheets and the wide open spaces of Sony Playstation Plateau. they said. Indomitable. There was no escape. We didn’t think we needed it any more. I can’t believe it’s not butter. he was off. “Meerkats. And bickering amongst themselves. determined. Today’s penguins are extremely image conscious. adélies are much more petite than emperors. you flat-footed fool. Compared to Kalahari hardpan. Their bulk. Gobi gneiss or Patagonian polder. their golden breastplates glittered menacingly. Bella shook her head. There was no way those monsters could follow. don’t you know. tear. scampering.
However. Orlov said nothing.” Chastened for the moment. I haven’t dug so much since David Attenborough directed Meerkat Manor.” Bella brushed the obsessive-compulsive aside. given the warmth of the polar welcome committee. digging. digging. “When danger calls. Or earshot. sometime in the middle of April. They had a lot of reshoots too. Chain smoker he may have been but his feat of burrowing was mighty impressive. I have a prior engagement with a sock puppet. There’s a few months yet before it gets dark. then it’s midnight through September.” he observed. even more gallantly. as well as penguins in hot pursuit. They tramped steadily across the snowfield. frankly. Simples. Orlov just kept digging. “dandies discard. Until you’re beyond the long flipper of the law. sending sharp slivers of fiery ice into . “Sundown?” she scoffed. though. Orlov scampered alongside. The thin crust gave way from time to time. “The rookery’s thataway. “Impossible. They march for months on end. Orlov pulled Bella out of the aperture and. Enjoy the twilight while you can. The place was deserted. you know. Their feet sank in with a hiss. dashing forward. I’ll accompany you for a little while. through the worst of the winter. darting back. if you’ve had enough for one day. “Forgive me. hoping to draw out any remaining isabellines. Orlov stood in front of his new acquaintance. They’ve been insufferable since that Oscar.” “I’ll get you a new one when we’re done with ACME. sitting up every so often – nose twitching. My routine is sacrosanct. “When does it get dark around here?” he asked. blocking her path. claymation models. Which way are you heading?” “All roads lead north. Bella heard the emperors pause to pronounce on the awful smell of the place and the prodigious stink of its inhabitants. my dear. the meerkat’s quizzical head popped out of an encrusted snowdrift. Less than fifteen minutes after the excavation began. the hyperactive meerkat stuffed his crushed cigarette packet into a small leather posing pouch.” With a heavy sigh. “Oh. You’ll have a lot to talk about. apparently. dropping down on all fours. You have a lot in common. They’d made it to the plateau above the beach in one piece. He fell into step beside Bella. They’re famous for it.” Bella set off with the sun at her back. body doubles. Don’t expect much sympathy from the emperors.Above the chatter of the ice cascade and the rodent’s laboured breathing. digging. Pity. Stand-ins. It must be adhered to rigorously. They’re big girl’s blouses. eyes flicking – scanning the horizon for potential predators.” Agitated. The katabatic wind picked up steadily. not even “you didn’t call them big girl’s blouses back in the cave”. not a penguin. The man’s a slave driver. but ACME is not on my agenda. Just follow the footprints back to the shaft. allegedly. Gallantly. not a skua. conceded that his silk smoking jacket was ruined beyond repair. he spluttered. not a shearwater in sight. “I’m feeling a trifle fatigued.” Bella snorted. The snow squeaked as they walked. They never let anyone forget it. over the rippling bands of sastrugi. It sounded like freshly-squeezed polystyrene packaging. Meerkats need their regular eight hours and we media meerkats are especially sensitive to sleep deprivation. The reshoots were ridiculous.
unimpressed by the overgrown pussycat’s performance. It works on everyone. sleepy. “Explain yourself. Poleaxed. The dot got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. Minxes and lynxes . It was only when the smudge was almost upon them that they realised it was a massive polar bear. A snowball rose from behind the hind quarters of the prostrate polar bear and shook itself off.” “The simples minded. You mocked the master.” Impressed as Bella was by the meerkat’s display of animal magnetism. informed their ursine attacker that it was feeling sleepy. perhaps. “How on earth…?” Orlov sniffed. preventing further progress. that’s what you are.” Bella had only taken three steps when she was stopped in her tracks by a voice from the void. A bear with a sore head was always best avoided. He’ll be none the worse for his ordeal. A black dot was coming towards them. stared deeply into the snarling creature’s tiny eyes. and maybe he’s a furry friend of Flat Eric. Let’s find out what he’s doing here. “Maybe he knows where ACME is. “Yes. Astounded.” he purred. “Louis the Lynx. You’re a minx. so far from home. the meerkat refused to budge. Orlov stopped suddenly. Smirking. across the inhospitable wasteland that penguins call home. that is. “I like a bird with spirit. “The bear is completely under my power. pointing into the distance. the polar bear slumped in front of them like a giant elephant seal. “It was because it didn’t work. He rose up on his hind legs. “Did you say Flat Eric?” the speaker inquired in a beguiling baritone. With its great jaws open wide – exposing a bright red tongue and fearsome yellow fangs – the beast was preparing to pounce. “What’s that?” he said. A wild cat. I think you’re my kind of penguin.” “My paws were cold. apart from a slight headache. “Rrrrrrrrrrr. A polar bear? In the southern hemisphere? At the South Pole? In a word…no way! But a bear it was. sleepy and clicked his powerful claws. snoring loudly.” She made to move on.” Louis meowed throatily. Chins tucked in. still with snow under the nails. bigger than a mangy moggy. Do you believe me now. I’m out of here. But you didn’t believe me.” Orlov inveigled. He’ll wake when I tell him to wake. But Orlov looked just as surprised as she felt. it was akin to a tabby on growth hormones or steroidal supplements of some kind. Let’s get out of here before the brute wakes up. she wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stick around while he revived the roaring roustabout. Bounding towards them at top speed.” Bella said. preparing to ask if ventriloquism was another of his meerkat talents. at your service. Let me know how you get on. Bella turned back to her erstwhile travelling companion. “I told you I could do it. A polar bear with a sore head didn’t bear thinking about.” Bella apologised. Orlov placed a forepaw on her chest. they ploughed on. She’d seen enough narcissism for one day. fast asleep. Let’s wake him. Smaller than a snow leopard. little miss sceptic?” “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe. It was feline. On me. Bravely.their faces as the afternoon stroll became an unending struggle.
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
which was encyclopaedic as far as it went. how long would Cadbury’s drumming gorilla last in the wild? He’d be torn asunder for playing Phil Collins. penguins that perform elaborate tap-dance routines. curling contentedly in the steamy heat of their bodytemperature shelter.” “Should’ve stuck with the Arctic Monkeys. yellow and pale – plus a skeleton wearing a hoodie while wielding a scythe. “I’ve built up a brand from next to nothing. why not expand the markets you’re in? Humans love animals but hate animal aromas. I read Wikipedia incessantly. wildlife programmes in particular.” “Alta Mira?” Bella said.” Louis chuckled. moreover. They are strangely attracted to dinosaurs. Louis asked. The Lynx name is likely to prove more appealing to animal lovers than Axe. I’m a mine of information about aardvarks. my dear boy. We’re built on a bubble of belief.” Orlov smiled. with a grin.territories. hair care and orifice care collections could do wonders for your brand. suitably formulated toiletries and ranges of companion animal skincare. “Anthropomorphism. But she wasn’t quick enough. because they believe that the Apocalypse involves four horses – white. the bigger and nastier the better. This was an opportunity to display his erudition. as Neolithic cave art attests. They’ve been anthropomorphising things from the dawn of time. lions that sing show tunes. moreover. Even his chortle was charming. putting poor critters down. Lurchers. he was a busted flush. Lhasa Apsos and the like. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for humans’ self-regard. “don’t knock it. advertising. adélies. so selling to them is the next natural step. Louis laughed out loud.” Bella quipped. . recognising the A the smug bugger was referring to. Bella knew better than to fall for a sweet-smelling Lothario. while the snow swirled outside in exquisite wind-whipped spirals. tempted to test the know-it-all rodent. where the available alternatives are almost indistinguishable. I can see the campaign now. anyhow?” “Simples. A sexy smelly shampoo. big-eared baby elephants that can fly.” Orlov boasted. extermination. is one of humankind’s most admirable traits. Their TV channels are full of programmes featuring animals with human characteristics. You test the things on animals. They make movies about mice that speak. crows that crack jokes. since Axe carries connotations of execution.” “Hey. Anything after. BrandLand owes everything to humanity’s vanity. Anything before B he was unbeatable. anthropomorphism…” Bella Adélie perked up. what anthropomorphism was when it was at home. They are anthropomorphomaniacs. Plus. with only the faintest hint of aristocratic condescension. red.” “Hmmmm. Their advertising breaks are chock-a-block with brand characters from every corner of the animal kingdom. The lynxes were a society of Italian intellectuals. hope. Orlov lit up. sensing a stay of Axecution. not that there’s much else to admire. When you put it like that.” Louis mused. a brand in a highly competitive market. all thoughts of a katnap forgotten. “How come you know so much about marketing. “And they’ll keep doing it till the end of time. weren’t they? Intelligent pet owners buy Lynx for their Labradors. a brand that lacks tangible touch points. “Correct. though the hunky lynx was hard to resist. I’ve worked my way through all of the As. They are inclined to see themselves in other species. desire. Ask yourself. don’t you.
scratching occasionally. I wanted to rouse it. hypothermia wasn’t so bad… Suddenly. venting snow and stones and steam and feathers. woman?” “Accusations that Louis was sneaking polar bears into Adarctica as a cheap publicity stunt for his cheap and cheerful brand of body wash.What do they put into their toiletries. the hillock erupted. His eyesight is not what it was. Maybe there was a market-led alternative to cost cutting. Louis. Louis was curled up in a fur ball. cruel culling.” he said. He had no idea what the whacko woman was going on about.” “You suggested no such thing. Doubtless he was dreaming dreams of the Winter Palace. Bella and Louis said nothing. Their shelter. Why was it chasing you? It was chasing you. Has been for years and years. wasn’t it?” Warm and cosy. “You still haven’t explained the polar bear incident. With an almighty roar. internecine strife… “Talking of the Arctic. Penguins pong pretty bad. smiling benignly at the addled adélie. You tried to run off.” Orlov said testily. Eyes drooping. He thinks I’m the fox. She tried to keep herself awake with thoughts of bad dreams involving the Ibis of the Adpocalypse.” “His sense of smell is still quite sensitive. She tried to resist. They listened instead to the lulling howl of the circumpolar wind.” Orlov observed dryly. understandably. Maybe when their ACME quest was over. Feathers? . What wild accusations. A joint venture. the moraine started moving. He’s not best pleased. well. Or Freudian psychosis. as did the occupants of the lean-to igloo. The earth quaked. the Fabergé eggs that were his by right. like a karaoke Krakatoa. 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. Orlov attempted to engage his companions in a discussion of aardvarks. Bella wondered. “Did you read its mind as well as mesmerise the brute? Perhaps if you’d roused it and reasoned with it like I suggested. “it was all a mistake. she looked around. Orlov’s pointy head was lolling. Bella wasn’t in the mood for Orlov’s passive-aggressive palaver. “Actually. the Arctic Fox special edition wasn’t the smartest move we ever made. Bella felt sleepy. anteaters and analogous A-team animals. “Yes. far from being a place of safety in the teeth of a storm. perhaps. the Romanovs. she wondered.” The group descended into grumpy silence. though.” Louis was at a loss. How many eggs did it lay in a clutch? Hey. The polar bear’s a brand mascot for Fox’s Glacier Mints. Sensing that he’d overstepped the mark. If not quite a cry for penguin psychotherapy it was definitely due to blizzardinduced delirium. Mmmmm. miffed that his scholarly soliloquy had been interrupted by ill-educated commoners. you wouldn’t be sitting there making wild accusations. What kind of animal was a Fabergé. she’d look into a licensing agreement for the South Pole. Or a meow meow overdose. was shaking and shuddering and rumbling and rolling. whose voice rose and fell like a wolf on the prowl. He’s been steadily deprived of advertising support and bypassed by the extra-strong mints that have eaten his lunch. I couldn’t shake him off.
Snowstorm forgotten and with nothing to lose.” Gallic to its wingtips. “To ze edge of BrandLand and not a metre beyond. “How far can you take us. if you can’t go all the way?” Louis cajoled. “SoHo.” “No. 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. rather. none of which are tested on ze animals. building on her companion’s ad-honed ability to sweet-talk everyone and. with a smirk. Companion to Marco Polo. “Zat is so.” “Take us to New Yorkie City. Having watched the negotiations in silence. if it’s not out of your way. “Then you can help three animals in trouble. he’d seen all the Disney classics on DVD. Acquaintance of Ali Baba. Aleksandr Orlov made a decisive intervention. uh. with poststructuralist precision. The Roc hawked and spat in the Francophone manner.” the creature conceded.” Louis said. Anything beyond ze tunnels costs extra. And celebrity spokesdeity for a delightful range of unscented cosmetics. you could give us a lift to New Yorkie. Aeschylus and analogous apocryphal allegories. Lord of ze skies. We’ve been tramping through BrandLand for days. flapped them vigorously.” the Roc crowed. settled them flush against its torso and cocked its head querulously. “But this is BrandLand. “Zere’s a surcharge to Madhattan.” “So. Encouraged. Hans Christian. Flipper. “Well. Bella and Louis hip-kissed each other.” Bella added. Not only were they getting somewhere. if not quite charm the birds from the trees. He knew his Ali Baba too and.” Bristling. you’re fully committed to animal welfare?” Louis wheedled in his most persuasive manner. Bella chanced her arm. “I am Roc. Everyone knows zat. then twist mythical creatures round his front paw pinkie. “Three wishes. correct?” The Roc riffled and shuffled its feathers uneasily. Bella knew better than to fall for that one. while hopping from foot to foot. sun screens and age-defying hypoallergenic embrocations. as well as Aesop.” Orlov insisted. “Zis is not BrandLand. Zis . it isn’t. as for Andersen. face creams.” “Zat I am. s’il vous plait. clearly unimpressed by the artificial aromas emanating from the budget brand ambassador.” The gigantic bird flexed its mighty wings. “Zat I can.The vast creature shook itself again and glared down its great beak at the astonished brand band.” Bella tried not to look at the vile purple discharge. isn’t it?” he said. while twirling his whiskers with gusto. “We have three wishes. no less. Ally of Aladdin. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrr. proceeded to split linguistic hairs. “Can I ’elp you?” it boomed in an incongruous French accent. they might even end up where they wanted to be. Unscented. drawing upon his in-depth knowledge of the Arabian Nights. cognizant of his rights as an Aladdin aficionado.” “Zat is impossible. the creature curled its beak disdainfully and.
” “D’Accord. as yet untouched by civilisation. a contiguous territory. “is Adarctica.” The Roc’s inflection on “civilisation” said it all. But the beast was duty bound to do their bidding.” . “We’ll make our own way from there.” Orlov commanded.” he sniffed. Zis. “Take us to the edge of BrandLand.is a mere dominion.
Having read up on aeronautics. but surpassed them by a considerable margin. Bella gasped as the raging katabatic wind buffeted the unrestrained passengers. Far from being dropped from a very great height. Clinging on for grim life. And we’re not talking Dumbos. never mind jumbo jets. She didn’t like heights at the best of times but. as its tagline proclaimed. Back-beating furiously. the trio was taken by the scenic route. then took off vertically. Isabellines can’t be choosers. berg-dotted main gradually gave way to an azure expanse of oceanic calm. allowing the questers to get a firm grip and settle themselves in tandem. coupled with the Roc’s magnificently magical muscle power – truly. into the eye of the snowstorm. They ignored the proffered foot – Louis included – and clambered hand-over-hand up the creature’s slippery plumage. inviting. the fabulous beast dropped its shoulder. heading north. rising thermals. the Roc came to rest in a verdant Alpine meadow. Wings fully extended. then invited the threesome to mount. lushly vegetated Avon islands and pristine Sephora-fringed beaches. and advertisers don’t either. aerobatics. don’t travel claw class. humming an old Russian ballad to himself. BrandLand. it was the F14 of mythical creatures – enabled the brand animals to eat up the miles. punctuated by clearly-defined territories. in all its magnificence.” Flexing its feathers and ready for action. sat calmly. the mighty Roc rose to its full height. as her mother often observed. with a disbelieving look. avionics and all sorts of assorted avians. cartilages popping like burst bubble wrap. unstable air and an ever-bumpier ride indicated that a land mass was approaching. followed by fir tree-covered hillsides and. Many hours later. by contrast. taking in the scene. . eventually.Chapter Six Brandback Mountain “Be careful. it flapped once or twice. “If it offers us a choice of seating. With a low rumble of discontent. Louis had an eager expression on his handsome face. They dismounted shakily.” Orlov muttered to his brand of brothers. studded with beautiful L’Oreal archipelagos. “Wikipedia doesn’t lie. the bird-borne party was above the storm. like a little boy let loose in a toyshop. all warmed by balmy Maybelline currents. A driving tail wind. she dug her flippers deep into the big bird’s neck feathers. lay spread-eagled beneath them. the exquisite Crème de la Mer atoll flashed past as the Roc effortlessly exceeded its customers’ expectations.” “Yeah. captivating. snow-capped mountain ranges. he knew there was nothing to fear. lake-dappled lowland. Beckoning. The meerkat glared at him. A barren coastal strip gave way to rolling. Within a few minutes.” Louis said. It wasn’t so much a patient etherised upon a table as a paradisal panorama. The storm-tossed. a route that proved Roc not only met its promises. And then some. Rocs have been known to drop elephants from very great heights. Orlov.” “According to ancient myth and legend.
My contract is complete. then took to the air. find ACME ASAP. disconcertingly. “A word of advice. The threesome looked up expectantly. Oh…let me see…it has to be a rumble in the Jungle Zone. . penguin. with an expression that not only whispered be-careful but yelled you-have-been-warned. “I feel like a kid at Disneyland. gimlet eyes glaring down its beak. directly ahead. Our task is to get to Madhattan. and make Mr Kipling see sense. In the far distance. pronto. they could just see the skyscrapers of the Urban Division through a fug of shimmering smog that melded with the Desert Quarter. the local authority. “I’m standing at the end of Main Street. it is equally true to say that the accumulated wisdom of the equatorial ecosystem is not inconsiderable. We might learn much from big biomass brands. “And we’re not on vacation. wondering which territory to try first. took over in his most schoolmistressy manner. Sheets of lightning flashed in the far distance. the stomping ground of Snap. “Steer clear of ze jungle. “Am I free to go. Pop and similar elfish creatures. “What do you mean wishes? Wish. We’ve only had one wish. Dark cumulonimbus storm clouds were gathering over the densely vegetated district.” it said. If we were to travel to Madhattan via Jungle Zone.” Orlov.” Bella snapped. it cracked open its stupendous wingspan. PDQ. Orlov was quick to point out the principal places of interest. but the species are quite distinct and while it’s also true that we don’t have time to stop and chat.” the Roc said disdainfully. veri careful. the meerkat’s authoritative input was itself interrupted by a rough Roc cough. now that your wishes have been fulfilled?” Bella balked. the intermontane home of the immortal Marlboro Man. The Roc refused to elaborate.An acknowledged expert in domain names.” “Can’t you count. “Why’s that?” Louis asked. the Lacoste crocodile. swirling. Be veri. which was home to such iconic figures as Tony the Tiger. USA.” the big bird boomed. reportedly. One wish per passenger. surely.” Conciliatory though it was.” With that.” Louis enthused. “Zree passengers equals zree wishes in total. “It’s true of course that the Barbet order of Avian genera embraces both woodpeckers and toucans. Downhill and to the left lay Jungle Zone. arcing and cawing before heading off over the snow-dusted mountaintops. a parched wasteland where abandoned brand characters went to die. Crackle. It simply nodded in the general direction of Jungle Zone. We’ve two more to play with.” “This isn’t a theme park. The thunderheads pulsed intermittently. We don’t have time to chat with tigers or lounge around with alligators or watch revolting rhino dancers or quaff pints of porter with a drunken woodpecker. Immediately below them and to their right lay Mountain Region. She waved a flipper at the vista beneath them. Just beyond that was the allegedly enchanted Forest Province. like the landing lights of an aircraft in fog. flapped a couple of times to get the stiffness out of its muscles. if only because he’d been plagued by punters searching for Comparethemarket dotcom. we might learn much along the way. vaguely embarrassed that they’d forgotten to thank their tour operator. the Guinness toucan and the ever-randy Spearmint Rhino.
The bracing alpine meadow soon gave way to richly scented stands of spruce. Orlov gestured toward Jungle Zone. plus any number of thoroughbred Ford Mustangs – was being shepherded toward the far end of the enclosure by a pair of leather-chapped. Not only was he a self-important meerkat.” “Cardboard cut-outs.” A row erupted. “Paris is dead!” Bella stomped off across the Alpine pasture heading in the general direction of Mountain Region. pranced and gambolled and skipped over the grassy clumps. following a rough-cut path which was steep and precarious in places. The heavenly hollow was ringed with split-log fencing. “I may be mistaken. the incomparable Budweiser Clydesdales. Those cows look a lot like the ones on Chunky Monkey cartons. Birds of prey circled lazily overhead. Stetson-hatted brand wranglers. She badly needed a breather. He was still complaining when they broached the tree-line and entered a lush mountain valley. whose proper natural habitat was low-lying desert not high altitude pastureland. after being frozen in flight. steaming waterfalls. “Just one Cornetto” and innumerable other advertising classics carried through the swaying conifers. tussock-strewn. she was perspiring like an elephant seal in a sauna. Bella left them to it. the winding route offered rewards of its own: rushing streams. the My Little Pony palominos. the signature tune of a rival price comparison website. Dangerous though it was. but he was a bag of wind into the bargain. Jingles rather. They picked their way through the fir cones and pine needles. interspersed with red-berried rowans. birch-fringed. jabbering darkly about silly committee decisions. A blissful. Bella recognised some of the tunes. .“The nerve of it. Not designed for yomping through pastureland. you twat. It was occupied by a herd of brand animals unlike any other.” “Paris?” Louis inquired lasciviously. you mean?” Louis was less than impressed by Orlov’s observations. wondering what he’d done to upset her this time. only to be steered back to the herd by its mounted minders. pitch-perfect birdsong in the clear mountain air. the Lloyd’s Bank black horse. flakiest chocolate”. his hottie spotter instincts fully functional once more. Louis scampered after her.” Bella muttered. Bella stumbled on several occasions. making a vast grassy corral. cedar. Every so often. joined the others on their high country hike. stream-silvered dell lay below her. She spotted an inviting spinney of cypress on a little hillock nearby and headed toward its beckoning shade. arrogance and absence of brand sense. “Hands that do dishes”. a frisky Ferrari broke free. Orlov. though. The air was noticeably warmer here. like an Alpine Shangri-la. was less than happy to hear the operatic strains of “Go Compare”. Every imaginable anthropomorphic equine – the Ralph Lauren polo pony. “A Mars a day”. Each accused the other of ignorance. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference between Friesians and Charolais. plaidshirted. “Never trust a Parisian cabdriver. narrowly avoiding plunging beak first into rocky ravines and down steep scree slopes. Especially for a penguin. larch and juniper. But when she crested the rise. Perplexed. “Only the crumbliest. “but I think we’re in Ben & Jerry country. Herds of free range cattle grazed contentedly in the distance. “That’s Elsie the Borden Cow. That’s what Paris once told me. shook his furry head with exasperated futility and. And that’s her smiling flock.” the meerkat said. she was too astounded to rest.
Big Emphysema. still hale and hearty after fifty years on fifty a day. sonorous and compelling. Big Sky. but paid city slickers no heed. the wide. he recommended they remain in his mountain fastness. The herdsmen soon spotted the newcomers and. “Don’t worry. Much as the trio loved the mountains. I presume. of course. galloped across the paddock to greet them with a whoop and a holler. was impressed. Welcome to God’s own country. having secured their charges in a holding pen for later breaking and (literal) branding. He had heard of ACME. “Mr Marlboro. as were her awe-struck associates. the all-grown-up Milky Bar Kid. where the village people would point them in the right direction. Uncharacteristically tongue-tied. Big Brand Equity. an urban cess pit was their priority. Bella opted for a formal greeting. “At your service. with only cows and cowpokes for company. tilted back his hat and grinned. Pen-wrangling bureaucrats held no fear for him. It bespoke Big Country. Even Orlov. The bad folks don’t call me at all. The advertising icon was bemused. Generously. a forty-five by his side and nourishing Milky Bars to nibble come suppertime. There was no need to explain. entranced by a virtuoso display of droving. Why would anyone want to swelter in the city when the open range. Duke’s voice was deep. the cowboys volunteered to accompany them to the nearest settlement.” The older cowboy. wide west. The legend introduced his pardner.” It’s not every day you encounter the single greatest advertising icon of the twentieth century. “Village people?” Louis echoed. Bella was buying. with an anxious expression. She asked Mr Marlboro – Duke to his friends – about the quickest way to Madhattan. A cowpoke’s gotta poke what a cowpoke’s gotta poke. the bracing air. the fellowship of the brand sat on the fence and watched. ma’am. no siree. The good folks around here call me Duke. pistols are packed and the Surgeon General’s writ don’t run. the thrill of rounding up unbroken brands was readily available. While he sympathised with Bella’s band’s plight. Isabelline penguins know only too well how hard it is to find companionship. a Lark man to the tip of his charcoal filters. let alone love. Apart from an occasional wheeze. Big Flavour. Big Satisfaction.” “Chance’d be a fine thing. Agog. where men are men. they’re not axe-murderers. not when there’s a lariat to hand. son.” .She signalled for the others to join her. unnecessarily adding that things got kinda lonely round Brandback Mountain. Whatever he was selling. a weather-beaten yet strikingly handsome individual.
Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .
that a dollop of Lynx made a man a sex magnet – he was in no position to pass judgement. An ancient yet well-preserved Dove soap dovecote was attached to one gloriously vernacular outbuilding. plus several infuriating false starts. 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. construction workers and able-bodied seamen. A camp camp containing red Indians. round rivulet and through thicket. “Yes. As things stood. might be more than even he could handle. he said that he owed his success to serendipity. Pantene shampoo was found in a frying pan. Offers to stay at the “YMCA” would be politely declined. of all things. trimmed hedgerows and cottage gardens surrounding scattered farmsteads. cowsheds and straw-covered barnyards. “Though if anyone asks. grinning in the winning way that once endeared him to millions. But the tat was an accident.Chapter Seven Farewell to Farms For a famously unforthcoming brand icon. someone whose silence was golden because it burnished his marketing mystique. If they started up “Macho Man”. tell them you’ve seen it with your own eyes. The rest is history. traffic cops. never will. Just as Ivory soap was a chance discovery. A curl of wood smoke in the valley bottom indicated the approach of civilisation.” In ordinary circumstances. all inflamed by the irresistible smell of Lynx Unlimited. It enjoyed strictly modest success until it was taken in hand by Leo Burnett. the creator of legendary brand characters like Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant.” the crumbly cowpoke replied with a wheezy chuckle. he’d insist that all hands were on deck at all times. a curious tattoo on the poster model’s wrist intrigued smokers sufficiently to give Marlboro a try. of all things. As the party progressed down dale. the Bon Ami chicken. plus a selection of cartoon livestock from Facebook’s famous FarmVille. Modest to a fault. a squiggle by the first picture editor that got printed by mistake. as did the manicured fields. Bella recognised the Kellogg’s cockerel. “that’s what they said about the lung cancer link. But given his own brand’s disingenuous claims – namely. Louis might have agreed with the rodent. After a fraught brainstorming session. the cowboy archetype was adopted. while wondering whether it was wise to light a Lark hereabouts. the Old Speckled Hen of microbrewery fame. on account of the filter tip. Kellogg’s corn flakes were a complete fluke.” the Milky Bar Kid chipped in.” Orlov stage whispered. Marlboro Country was invented and. he chatted freely about his commercial accomplishments. Other farms boasted such spectacular sights as . he was more concerned about the Village People mentioned by Duke. And as for “In the Navy”. Duke Marlboro proved surprisingly garrulous. “Never had. he’d join in the chorus. It was originally targeted at female smokers.” “What consumers don’t know won’t do them any harm. The inhabitants called out to Duke as he passed or waved welcome greetings from pigsties. “So you don’t have a tattoo?” Bella giggled.
livery stables and general stores with hitching rails out front. The fellowship of the brand didn’t quite know what to expect. the everenergetic Red Bull. “Wonder what’s eating them. Swan matches and . somewhat surprised by the absence of ye olde English hospitality. wished them well in their quest for ACME. “Hmmph. the Osborne brandy bull from Spain and the once-indefatigable Merrill Lynch bull. “What a guy. which looked the worse for wear.the Anchor butter cows. Then. but Orlov wasn’t convinced.. He glared at his feline acquaintance. a time-worn market cross. perhaps?” Louis guffawed in his ebullient way. “Exhausted after excessive Morris Minor dancing. arhar. watering cans. then spun on his heel with a snarl and scampered off toward the village green. However. they encountered a neat and tidy English village of fine-grained millstone grit. edge trimmers. Lindt’s luscious chocolate lambs and Burt’s Bees blissfully aromatic apiaries.” Bella sighed. 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 galloped off into the gloaming with a yip and a yee-haw and a wave of his cowboy hat. leaded lights and clouds of efflorescent clematis. each equipped with the regulation privet hedge. Far from finding a dowdy collection of clapboard houses. Orlov was sure he’d spotted the Oxo stock cube family. while clapping Orlov’s back with gusto. Smelt of chewing tobacco. where Aflac ducks.” A freshly-painted signpost stood at the crossroads. Hamlet half a mile. overhanging eves. to Louis’s annoyance. The Marlboro Man paused at the edge of the settlement. the Bull Durham bull. garden hoses. as if preparing to unleash his ocular powers. lay beguilingly before them in an exquisite sweep which culminated in a willow-dotted village green with a duck pond in the middle. Only Captain Morgan stood his ground. it added. hedge clippers and half-assembled hanging baskets..” Louis observed. the Campbell’s soup family and the Gold Blend coffee couple. apart from digital imbeciles who mistook his genealogical website for a ghastly price comparison arrangement. wide and handsome cognates. all superbly presented prize-winners like the Lamborghini bull. it said. He had a peri-peri in every port. apart from drunken declarations of love for Nando’s hotter than hot chicken mascot. Louis thought he saw the Firefox browser slinking round Le Coq Sportif’s henhouse. as the company advanced into Hamlet. If there was one thing the meerkat hated. since settlements were famously few in Marlboro County. a straggling line of twee-as-twee-can-be thatched cottages. Another farmstead specialised in bull breeding.” Bella said wryly. mounting up. A pretty parish church. But what they discovered was completely contrary to the rootin-tootin cowboy cliché. pruning shears. Coors Country and their high. the inhabitants scuttled into their houses. “Maybe everything’s stopped for Twining’s tea. with the Kid by his side. it was being pawed by dim-witted dilettantes. saloon bars. garden path. abandoning lawnmowers. the Bisto gravy family. me hearties was all the swashbuckling brand captain could manage. He directed the travellers to the nearest hostelry and. redundantly. Happiness is a hamlet called Hamlet. Ar-har.
which gleamed in the welcoming firelight. Orlov called out for a pint of best bitter. Or best bitter. I’m part of the Penguin biscuit family. The usual array of barroom grotesques. There’s no joke like a biscuit brand joke. lass. a firkin of gassy French lager. low whitewashed ceiling supported by black oaken beams and a mahogany public bar with big. quacked and chirruped incontinently. one with a sharp carving knife.” Bella clapped her flippers with delight. granite inglenook. “This is the Tetley Tea Temperance Tavern. the thirsty threesome returned to the saloon bar. “We’ve b-b-been…” . Nothing. A line of local yokels. however. a peppery little man with a self-important air. that were a long time ago. “You must be the Tetley Tea Folk! I’ve heard so much about you. a hogshead of mead. or whatever it is they do down there. flat caps and tartan slippers – yes. brass-banded pumps. was unsettlingly absent. The leader. with a view to settling up later or leaving an appropriate amount on trust. polished horse brasses.” the curmudgeon grunted. Archie. Torn between waiting for service and helping themselves. They waited for a few minutes. The place was deserted.” she went on. It was ye olde incarnate – flagstone floor. As the sun was well below the yardarm somewhere. “We prefer to work with Clubs. stepped forward. Penguins and Tetley go way back. old chap.” Bashful as ever. Have you been away? What an incredible tan. working on the assumption that the landlord was changing barrels in the cellar. slippers! – stood between them and the door. “And you. mine host. as sheepish grins started to appear.Crazy Frog ringtones croaked.” Bella said. “And you must be Maurice. “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. pointing at a portly mad-inventor character. Clarence. they followed him into the homely hostelry.” “Aye. if there’s naught else on tap. I’d recognise you anywhere. By the time Bella and Louis caught up. beloved by TV advertising directors and scary movie makers. the miffed meerkat was heaving open the door of a halftimbered tavern.” she concluded triumphantly. All were empty. simple Sydney smiled shyly. Undaunted. You look fantastic. Or gassy lager. “are Sydney. their ruddy faces aglow with amusement. ignoring the angry rustic’s rude remark. “You must be Gaffer. slapping his knotty cudgel into the palm of his hand. Each was armed with a blunt instrument. We don’t serve mead ’ereabouts. lad. They checked out the lounge bar and the private rooms at the back. the consummate cuppa-maker.” she continued. “You’re Gordon. my good fellow. Still nothing. blushed deeply and began to stutter out an answer.” The tea folk tittered. wearing blue overalls.
Assholes. as did Gordon with his andiron. Bushells. Those triangular tea bags you guys invented? Ace. Tips’ market share fell 14% when they killed tha chimps and recruited tha T-birds. “Now what?” There was nothing else for it. I suspect. P. They make mincemeat out of uppity outsiders. Do tha think we’d fraternise with third-rate products like that. Psychosis is not uncommon. along with Brooke Bond. He knew what it’s like to play second banana to a brand icon.” he growled. But. “Too much tea stains the teeth and addles the brain. “Tbirds were P. The silver-tongued salespitch was greeted with stony silence. ominously. “Not that it’s any of tha’s business. but were dropped in favour of claymatronic animals.” The bar fell silent at Aleksandr’s impudent words. Have you thought of going into the skin protection business. “We’ve been on holiday.” Gaffer spat. lass. A lot. reminding them who’s boss. Sydney shuffled his feet. Lipton. Lyons.G. Lever lover? Menacingly. Determined to talk his way out of the dangerous situation that was brewing. the T-birds.” the Gaffer reminded his growling goon squad. who knew better than to fraternise with strangers claiming acquaintance.” “Tannin poisoning.G. Because P. Tips.G. brand animals like us.” “Animals like us?” “They were more Wallace and Gromit. “Tetley. he eyed up the infusion-inflamed goon squad. Louis fell back on the infallible lynxian charm. “How come you know that?” he muttered at Orlov through gritted teeth. Clarence coughed gently into his hand. The Tea Folk were big in the 80s. Tips is a Unilever brand. Sariwangi and Scottish Blend.” . a human in his case rather than the animals in theirs.G. then glared at his gang.G. He knew lots of bigwigs in Unilever. The others likewise discarded their navy overalls. The tea folk advanced.” Louis groaned. his rimless glasses gleaming like Joseph Goebbels’. brandishing their blunt instruments. “Assam. rolled up the sleeves of his shiny serge suit and spat on his ham-like hands.But he was cut off by Gaffer. Tips people. Tetley invented tha teabag – tha got that right. Tetley invented the triangular tea bag. “Tha’s mixing us up with P. Could put a word in for them. More manly than factor fifty sunscreen. lad – but tha triangular bag was P. Maurice checked that his mallet was fit for purpose. Tips’ attempt to steal our thunder. We liked the T-birds. Gaffer removed his grubby lab coat. He met the T-birds once. he sympathised with the Tea Folk’s plight.” Orlov whispered.” “That’s torn it. make use of the fact that used teabags are good for sunburn. yes.” Bella gulped audibly. “There’s nothing I don’t know about tea. “don’t only make tea bags make tea. “And why didn’t you keep it to yourself?” Grinning inanely.
a copycat called Tim Tam. The glory days of P. Night was falling. deciduous trees. and arsehole begins with A. insidiously. she decided it would do for the night.” Louis didn’t mince his words. “An old trick. Coffee culture’s king. The look on the Tetley Tea Folks’ faces was priceless. A stroke of genius. It tasted delicious too. “You can’t expect Aleksandr to know everything.” Orlov interrupted. “It was nothing. There’s nothing to choose between them. The roadside hedgerows and grain-glutted fields around Hamlet had gradually given way to thicker and thicker stands of trees.Chapter Eight Bury My Brand at Wounded Tree Orlov and Louis weren’t speaking. Tips chimps and Tetley Tea Folk are over. lime. “It was brilliant. his naturally garrulous nature unable to sustain long silences.” She was standing at the edge of a silver birch-draped clearing. Defeated. They’ve reverted to commodities. she too lapsed into disconsolate silence. heavy trees.” “No. as the sun slid behind the rolling foothills. They’d entered Forest Province imperceptibly. unawares. Anyone could have mixed up Tetley and P. “That was a brilliant stunt you pulled back there. Tea’s time is up. fighting on price. you can bicker without me. They’d have to stop soon. Even Thomas Lipton’s one-man razzamatazz machine is long gone.” There was no response to Bella’s attempted brand aid. sycamore. Tea brands are identical nowadays. fur bristling on the nape of his neck. attempting to mediate between her warring associates. beech. Far from the madding firs.G.” “Yes. “He didn’t mislead you deliberately or supply misinformation so that you’d bear the brunt of the beating.” . planting her feet far apart and placing her flippers on her hips. I myself didn’t know that the Penguin brand could be used as a chocolate drinking straw for freshly brewed tea. After looking around and sniffing the air. these were big trees. Tips. unobtrusively. no.” Bella smiled modestly. It’s a silly thing Australians do with their version of the Penguin choccy biccy. proper trees like hornbeam. The air was chilly.” Bella had said. poplar.” Orlov snarled. They slowly wound their way along the windy road out of Mountain Region. ferret. “Now push off the pair of you. “Look.G. is because biscuit begins with the letter B and chocolate starts with a C. “if you’re going to bicker from here to New Yorkie. twofers and ceaseless in-store promotions. like most FMCGs. They’d been walking for several hours and Louis still hadn’t forgiven the “weasel” who’d wilfully misled him about tea culture. walnut. I’m amazed they fell for it. elm.” Louis finally said. oak.” Bella said. Retailers’ own brands are just as good and cheaper to boot. “The reason you didn’t know about it. you two.
most likely. Scania’s and Saab’s. Swiftly followed by another. “Look. But he was stopped in his tracks by a magical sight. Crackle and Pop. The Ibis of the Adpocalypse failed to materialise.” “Or award you freedom of the hamlet. biding their time for a tasty sponsorship deal or lucrative personal endorsement. for once. deep drifts of leaf mould and impassable patches of marshy ground. Not this one. she was struck by the absence of bird song. On picking herself up for the fifth time. her companion animals ignored the invective and started gathering kindling instead. thereby simultaneously supporting Louis’s suggestion and extending an olive branch to his estranged fellow traveller. but it was pleasant all the same. linnets and the like. And another. only to disappear when anyone came too close. She dreamed happy dreams of Paris. and the allegedly sadistic Orangina fauns. Unused to rambling rhizomatic root systems. scrutinising the strangers. the Schnuffel rabbit. the Nesquik bunny. the Unibank unicorn. in the centre of a sun-dappled dell. with an irresistible .” “I’m just glad they let us go. Surely wildwoods were bristling with warblers. as well as the Royal Liver phoenix.” With a sigh of contentment. lay languidly beneath it. “Actually. pipits. Isabelline penguin pride and the convincing case she’d make to Mr Kipling in due course. the Deere deer – likewise made a fleeting appearance. nibbling on bite-sized chunks of Cadbury’s Caramel. she surmised. only to find herself drifting off.Chastened. to say nothing of the Nestlé nest of fledglings and those little blue Twitter birds. before evaporating into the undergrowth. Much to her annoyance and embarrassment.” Orlov said with atypical glee. a rambling rose bush was in bloom. even though their route was impeded by fallen trees. texting furiously on low-hanging branches. when something caught her eye. she offered a square to Louis. as did the loveable leprechauns from Lucky Charms. flitting in. They made good progress through the forest. She was about to draw her companions’ attention to the songbird shortfall. Before long. a fire was crackling in the glade and. “I’m amazed they didn’t carry you shoulder-high around town. out and around the trees. the Kirin dragon. he felt the stirrings of a major market expansion opportunity. particularly when the Aurora Adealis appeared. thanks to a babbling brook nearby. a billycan of Tetley tea was soon brewing on the embers. rotten logs. She tried listening to Louis rabbit on about customer cocreation. her parents. A boisterous bunch of mythical marketing forest dwellers – the Energiser bunny. Smiling. “You gave them a gimmick that could revitalise the brand. The next day saw an early start. The night sky wasn’t as brilliant as Adarctica at its best. the Glenfiddich stag. Vauxhall’s. A singularly sultry rabbit.” Orlov added. exhausted. A figure was flitting through the trees. Bella lay back on a thick mattress of maple leaves and stared up at the stars. Louis was in his element. wearing a skintight yellow dress.” The elfish emblems of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies paused. Bella tripped and fell on numerous occasions. Bella could sense the presence of griffins. “there’s Snap. Watching the frolicking creatures. looked over and waved affably. the Trix rabbit. the Hartford elk. hive intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. Keebler’s elves also showed up. No doubt Sasquatch and Bigfoot are in there too. In a most unladylike manner.” Louis laughed. Immediately adjacent to the path.
Bella followed suit. the oldest trick in the book. the meerkat transfixed him with a stare. all hulking. And then some. “Let me guess. which clung and dragged and did all they could to prevent penetration. famously omnivorous creatures. She’s Circe. “Can you hear something?” She shook her head vigorously. he forced his way into the umbrella-like interior. actually. An unearthly hush descended. Bella would have given off to her acquaintance. “Quick. especially at this time of year when they should be hibernating. they don’t actually hibernate. Dark Temptation. “Arctophily. It’s a trick. fearing that she’d reveal their position to a bunch of perpetually peckish. “Don’t fall for it.” she smouldered. “Aeaea. Quick. Fancy a bite. she’s cursed. trying not to breathe.” He grabbed the prostrate lynx by the haunches and dragged him into the billowing rosebush. Together. But before Louis could bound over to his yummy bunny girl. “What’s up?” Orlov asked.” Orlov threw up his hands in a well-I-tried gesture then made to step aside. I can see that. big boy?” Inflamed with desire. and not a little need for nourishment. tongue hanging out. Daddy’s coming baby. “Something smells good around here. Bravely.” The sarcasm was lost on Orlov. Louis leapt towards the melt-in-the-mouth minx. all growling. and caught the befuddled feline as it fell. Ignoring the razor sharp thorns. There’s only so many As an adélie penguin can take. Must hide. which was still rustling. they roused Louis who woke . However. This doesn’t look good. peered around myopically.” A fearful expression crossed Aleksandr’s furry features.” Orlov hissed. “No. sotto voce. since their body temperatures rarely fall enough to qualify but an extended spell of dormancy usually occurs round about…” “Forgive me. Quick. Rrrrrrrrrrr. A big brown bear lumbered past. “My. Louis.” she said. all ponderous. an unnatural obsession with bears and beasts of an ursine bent. hoping Louis wouldn’t wake with a ribald remark. I’m doing him a favour. Bella bided her time.” In normal circumstances. the chocs-chewing courtesan had disappeared into the rose bush. then turned to tell the strumpet to skedaddle. Get out of my way. is it? I can’t resist a brand man who smells like chocolate. as if to reset her audio receptors. Well. then a third. A for Argonauts. A second bear followed.” “Yes. scattering pretty red petals across the forest floor. sniffed the air. then a steady stream. “Bears are extremely unpredictable. then shuffled on. Rrrrrrrr. mainly nocturnal.” “Did you really have to do that?” “Don’t fret. polecat. my. They hunched together biting their tongues. no.” The lynx laughed in his face. However. Bella.flutter of her come-hither eyelashes. clicked his foreclaws. It paused for a second. He’ll come round in a couple of minutes. panting like a pubescent puppy dog. “I’m afraid I can’t think of the A. since you ask. Orlov interposed himself between the siren and the sap. sensing Bella’s unease. “they’re solitary creatures too. though I thought I felt the ground tremble for a second.” Bella butted in. she’s a crone in Jessica Rabbit’s clothing. then a fourth.
the biggest bearstettford in living memory. and a veritable host of celebrity bears. Paddington bear. but received none from the blue-nosed meanies. Cresta lemonade bear. Even Pudsey. It must have been the biggest bear-fest.” Orlov murmured. Hampered by his heavy duffle coat.” The meerkat spoke too soon. Yogi bear. In fact. Pipes were smoked. Charmin paper towels bear. Only Gulliver. which emerged without warning from the undergrowth around the glade.” Pooh simpered.” Hiding in the wounded tree. “Let’s get out of here. “I Want to be Your Teddy Bear”. the Gummi bears were gunned down where they stood. the bears burst into song. Snuggles fabric conditioner bear. Larynges lubricated. The fat bastard. since Winnie insisted on doing an Elvis impression. The dell. they didn’t get beyond the old bole of a lightning blasted oak tree. SuperTed. SuperTed was also in attendance. the iconic US Forest Service bear. before a head shot finished him off. Gulliver. Orlov and Bella exchanged glances. Addled on alcohol and fine cigars. Bearishnikov machine guns – the killer teds advanced into the clearing. brown bears. It was the usual stuff: “Teddy Bears Picnic”. the Care bears and perhaps the bear that has sold more tie-in merchandise than any brand icon bar Mickey Mouse: Winnie-the-Pooh. Sleepy Travel Lodge bear. Bearzookas. the biggest jambearee. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and. firing indiscriminately. cans included. whose charitable work is second to none. Labatt’s blue bear. “has left the building. small bears. Bella felt a chilling sense of déjà vu. inevitably. Biffo the bear. The bears’ bonhomie was rudely interrupted by rampaging horde of blue-nosed teddies. peeping out a knothole. Hamm’s beer bear. Smokey the famous US Fire Service bear – a brand icon since 1944. This paw-wow was evidently an attempt to amicably manage the oversupply of bear brand icons. and the undeniably yummy Gummi bears. a snivelling wimp at heart. He died with his Wellington boots on. was filling up with bears. “We should be able to get away then. Bundaberg rum bear. The massacre was relentless.with a blissful smile on his face. with his own television and radio show – was torched by a tatty teddy with a flame thrower. “They’ll be asleep before long. black bears. Bella could see the Hofmeister bear. because the medieval bruins stood a chance when set upon by mastiffs. BearPG rifles. They didn’t get very far. the easyJet bear. fierce bears. friendly bears. “Told you so.” his said. begged on his knees for mercy. tried to flee but was cut down without mercy. Paddington was a sitting duck. At least they seemed civilised about it. It was worse than bear baiting. “Me and My Teddy Bear”. Big bears. the easyJet bear. Carrying an arsenal of automatic weapons – Bearetta pistols. The unarmed brand bears weren’t granted that opportunity. Sides of beef and fresh fish fillets were passed around. as were Pudsey bear.” hers replied. she knew the reason for the rendezvous. Appallingly. His good eye was gouged out and eaten raw. “The bear. cigars distributed and countless cases of bear brand beer were downed. wasn’t spared by the assassins. Carried back to the ice floe. Bears too were being targeted by ACME. the Hofmeister bear. George. Smokey. which looked like a gaping mortal wound. meanwhile. Boo Boo bear. . The brand bears didn’t stand a chance.
Supported by Charmin and Cresta. he sealed the fate of his comrades. . They raised their weapons as one. A second troop of baby-faced. he rallied the remaining ursines and charged for the safety of the trees. stony-eyed teddies stood ready at the edge of death dell. There was no sign of Winnie. The dirty deed was done. In so doing.showed any sense of self-preservation.
All was quiet on the Forever Friends front. the baby-faced ones. “There’s nothing we can do here. Bella tried to remember a wolf-based brand of products. Bella placed a napkin over Snuggles’ terrified features. tears streaming down his ashen face. Lighting a fire and sleeping under a bed of leaves was too risky in the circumstances. That’s the frightening thing. Frantically. Me-to-You they’re called. Working together.” Louis answered dully. his composure cracking under the strain of seeing so many “retired” brand icons. Broken bear bodies lay scattered around the blood-soaked clearing.” “Okay. Night was falling. A Lynx card range made sense. the trio forged ahead. “Greeting cards. though that didn’t make leaving any easier. “We talked about a co-branding deal once. Let’s bury the bodies and move on. Cautiously. . Yogi and Boo Boo died in each other’s arms. A chill was in the air. Great mark-ups. listening intently for any indication of military activity. most with decades of distinguished service. paw-prints. Bundaberg rum bear’s face was fixed in a frightful rictus. the better. They kept going. steadily. The less said about Biffo’s mutilated corpse. “I know who did this. sensible as ever. “You recognised the blue-nosed teddies?” “And the other ones. Clinton’s and lots of other card shops. On returning to the path several hours later.” Orlov said calmly. stealthily. “Greeting cards. discarded cartridges and torn strips of teddy fatigues on thorn bushes attested to their passage. The baby-faced butchers are Forever Friends. man” before breathing his last.” Orlov ordered. it was clear that the bearcenaries had fled by the same route. They pushed on slowly. a blood-curdling howl erupted from the yew trees ahead. “Men don’t like buying greeting cards. almost as if he’d been imbibing his own brand rotgut. Hallmark’s best selling range since 1989. “Sounds like the brandshee to me. stumbling occasionally over errant roots and inconsiderate tree stumps. the Me-to-You range has done big business for Birthdays.” Louis wept.” Bella said. The blue-nosed murderers belong to Carte Blanche.Chapter Nine Honey Still for Three? The aftermath of the massacre was horrible to behold. Hallmark’s main rival. Very profitable business. Heavy shadows fell across the path. Cresta gasped “it’s frothy. you see.” “Explain. Carte Blanche and Hallmark in cahoots. There was no sign of a Me-to-You encampment. Suddenly. Bloodstains. if only to work out what they were up against. frozen in its death throes. Rupert’s checked trousers were unrecognisable. you say?” “Yes.” They knew she was right. fearful of stumbling upon a killer bear bivouac. We talked joint ventures with them all. failing to focus on the salient facts. But drew a blank. jolted out of his rambling account.” Louis groaned. such was the bloodletting.” The meerkat shook his shocked companion’s shoulders. Led by Tatty Teddy. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
which stopped them in their tracks. They’re avatars. “It’s Count Chocula’s castle. “I think I know what this place is. “That’s no phantasm. bath salts and what have you. We have nothing to worry about. as the fellowship of the brand pushed ever deeper into Forest Province. sat a glowering gothic castle. above the sodden forest floor. But shelter found them. “Think about it. We’re in the middle of a haunted forest. They’re called Furries. with witching hour approaching.” The penguin pointed to a fuzzy figure flitting through the ferns.” “Looks pretty scary to me. High on a crag. “I know what they are. deodorant.” Louis said.” Louis said. Eyepet. It’s much the same with Animal Crossing. familiars. It’s just that secondary worlds sometimes collide and overlap. often in the prime of life. Never the best of hikers. Pet Society. they made reasonable progress. They searched for shelter. if anything – just that fetches. full and ominous.” Orlov answered with equanimity. They struggled along.” Bella was incredulous. Orlov laughed. Surely some of them are still with us. 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. Many of the residents adopt animal appearances. Hampered only by the nocturnal rustlings of a Retro Fox T-shirt and the disconcerting hoot of a Canadian CoucheTard owl.” “Axeman’s welcome to it. Invizimals. as the wraith-like avatars disappeared into the night. There must be lots of scope for shampoo. “Furries spend a fortune on their appearance. according to recent news reports. his Axe-inculcated familiarity with American brand mascots finally paying dividends. They’re breakfast cereal characters. They’re nothing to be afraid of. no. At night. all basalt battlements and turreted towers.” . teeth chattering. “Potentially big market for personal care products. Thousands of critters have been created since. There’s probably a portal someplace…” “Well.” he said. “Are you saying we’re living in a computer game?” “No. since her body wasn’t built for trekking. never mind feline chat-up lines. so too lots of brands have a virtual presence on Second Life. cold and cutting. Until the rain arrived. they opted for the latter. as well as the famous chocolate vampire himself. Most have been axed ruthlessly.” The moon eased out from the scudding clouds. hovering on the anthropomorphic astral plane as brand phantasms. I don’t like the look of them. Bella was exhausted before long.“Did you say brandshee?” “Come on Bella. The path soon turned into a slough. slipping and sliding and slithering. Just as the real world is breaking through into BrandLand. Second Life players. It’s simples. It wasn’t that he was a coward – foolhardy. A twist in the track brought a terrifying sight. faery dogs and so forth were famously immune to personal charm.” Louis said. Country Story. Its silvery light cast an uncanny glow across the undulating landscape. home of Franken Berry and Yummy Mummy. The first brand character dates from 1877.
“Tell them about the honey bunny. however. shields. .” Pooh wasn’t the problem.Orlov was not convinced. 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. was positively cadaverous. By then it was too late to retreat. Bagheera. We didn’t see anything. vaguely recalling the slogan that made the monster’s name. lined with oil paintings. not so much the cat that got the cream as Bear Sterns commodities broker who’d cornered the honey.” it shrieked. until they found themselves in an enormous oak-floored hall. “Now we know who we’re dealing with. head tilted back. Their eyes seemed to follow Bella as she waddled. sat His Royal Highness the Honey Monster. “I hate to put a fly in your foulsmelling ointment. swords and stuffed animal heads. always on the creepy side of welcoming. His black eyes glowered behind expensive hair extensions. stalwarts of the Me-to-You family. It’s Mummy. “Mmmmuuuuummmmy. She had second thoughts. Bizarrely. Mmmmmmmuuuuuummmmmy”.” the creature rasped. Bella was too tired to care. much less amused. The withdrawal of heavy rotation television advertising. spread out on a table before him. which were guarded by Fluffy and Snuffle. Winnie was nowhere to be seen.” Louis ventured. “I’m waiting. He scooped up a spoonful of deluxe royal jelly and. the Honey Monster repeated his gnomic statement. “Mummy. up flights of sandstone stairs dotted with old bronze busts and suits of armour. the hirsute beast started sucking its thumb uncontrollably. But not the once and future Honey Monster. The latter included Dumbo. poured the amber nectar into his gaping maw. the portcullis rose. Mummy”. though. The Forever Friends grenadiers steered them along narrow corridors lit by flickering torches. in the aftermath of Big Bear’s acquisition of Quaker Oats’ cast-off. The travellers looked at each other. “Mummy. soaked and traumatised by bearmageddon earlier. through panelled reception rooms draped with tapestries and pennants. the weary travellers were welcomed with open paws. His shaggy pelt shone golden in the lamplight. Mmmmmmmuuuuummmmy. nor were Piglet. picking idly at a selection of aromatic sweetmeats. heraldic standards and wall-mounted displays of pikes. Thumper and a replica of Bambi’s mother. Perched on an ornate throne at the far end of the minstrel-galleried reception room. Eyes rolling like lottery balls.” Orlov whispered as they approached a magnificent set of gilded double doors. It’s Tell Them About the Honey. the cobbled courtyard beckoned and they were asked about their business by the guards. But may I remind you that Bella is descended from the chocolate bar people. on seeing the baby-faced teddy sentries at the castle gate. He looked enormously pleased with himself. “Pooh’s been battling Disney for years over lost royalties. wondering what he was waiting for. mead and beeswax markets. as the drawbridge fell. Eeyore or the remainder of the Hundred Acre Wood dwellers. He must have betrayed his companions earlier. Be careful what you say. He’s a brand that brooks no opposition. His cavernous smile. Tigger. would have damaged the selfesteem of most breakfast cereal brands targeted at fickle children. lances. Mr Lynx. After licking his lips with relish.
When asked why he didn’t make a personal pitch to the Advertising . mummy!” they shouted in unison. Bella nudged her companions imperceptibly. “So what do you reckon?” Bella asked her companions.” “We’re doomed. as things were getting increasingly tough for bear-related advertising icons. we’ll never get to ACME. He doesn’t know what we know. Apparently. had charmed generations of British schoolchildren and set them on the merry. His Royal Highness the Honey Monster inquired politely about the brand band’s quest. He himself had an issue with ACME and wondered if they’d say a few words on his behalf.” “Keep your voices down.” Bella gloomed. His Majesty the Honey Monster airily replied that he too was of ursine descent and. “It’s simples. It was almost as if he knew that ACME was their destination. the creature immediately reverted to the cuddlesome character that. Let’s keep it that way. Miraculously remembering his ambassadorial role. we’re history. he showed the threesome around his stately home. sugar-macadamed road to Type 2 diabetes. “Tell them about the honey.” She looked at Orlov coldly. when they were finally led to a luxuriously appointed bedroom in the keep. so too slogans calm the savage brand. either because they represent a potential drain on honey resources or simply to increase the value of his bear-based investments. there’s nothing like a memorable catchphrase to cut through the clutter. When asked politely about his blue-nosed minders. As a philanthropist and all-round Good Samaritan. He has slaughtered the entire bear brand community. with the assistance of actor Patrick Magee. psychological or otherwise. which held great promise for bullish investors in bears. hence the bee laboratories. So it proved on this occasion. “You’re not very well informed outside the A zone. He also expounded on new-fangled financial instruments called “bearivatives”. There’s nothing but the finest emulsifiers. it was the least he could do. pausing to point out the bee laboratory. like himself. Otherwise. whose delicious wafer centre is heavily honey impregnated. Walls have ears.” “Lucky for us. “There’s no honey in Penguins. as the reality of their situation hit home. he felt obliged to extend a helping paw to the teddy boys.” Orlov hissed.” Bella was not amused. If he finds out Bella’s related to Penguin biscuits. “we didn’t mention what we saw this afternoon. As if by magic. He wanted ACME’s support in the forthcoming legal proceedings. As every brand manager knows.Shaken to the core. “The brute’s intent on securing the world’s declining honey supplies. dedicated to finding a cure for the affliction that’s decimating honey-producing populations worldwide. as befitting honoured guests of HRHHM. “Or he’ll overhear us.” she murmured. Just as music calms the savage breast. Lucky for you ACME’s within it. “All together now. after breakfast.” Orlov said.” Louis chipped in. the Honey Monster had been falsely accused of plagiarising a stand-up comedian’s catchphrase. The next morning. Doom was unaccountably delayed.
. “Not that kind of pooh. he replied that he’d a pooh problem that needed sorting.” Orlov observed. without smiling.” the Honey Monster said. “I thought honey was a natural laxative. innocently.Character Mediation Enterprise.
Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .
gratifying. The trio were preceded by Legend and Melody. sleek and in perfect physical condition. its claws clittering and clattering on the flagstone floor. air-conditioned cabin. was pretty impressive. golden. railings. Bella’s said “we’ve been had”. Luckily. Far from being seen off at the drawbridge. Bella. “A greyhound’s the only way to travel to New Yorkie. it burst out of a tunnel into the gloomy forest. which echoed and reverberated along the flagstone corridor at the bottom of the stairwell. There was no sign of Cerberus. the brand band exchanged wary glances. released the leash with a you-go-girl squawk. Peanuts. getting faster and faster and faster all the while. offering little by way of illumination. top guns of the Me-to-You menagerie. giving way to the rich arable farmland . A perfect day was in prospect. as the early morning mist lifted and the sun came out. rivulets. while petting and stroking and chucking the chin of his charge. let alone Agip’s six-legged dog. saplings. circling steeply upwards. bounding over fallen logs. “Although the dog within has three heads and although his poisonous bite is considerably worse than his bark. Pearl and Snowdrop brought up the rear. He escorted the triumvirate into the covered. What there was. glorious. Cerberus can be calmed with honey cakes. Louis’s said “a dirty dungeon awaits”. after doublechecking that all doggy systems were go. as Snowdrop the rabbit wrestled with the rusty lock of a heavy wooden door. A line of flaming torches guttered and sputtered in their sconces.” Aleksandr’s honey bun sacrifice was unnecessary. we’re in for an unpleasant time in the underworld”. I put three in a doggy bag at breakfast. while straining on its leash. As the journey progressed up Reeses Pieces Street and down Frito-Lay Highway the woods petered out gradually. Increasingly alarmed. raising its paws and barking excitedly. stood before them wagging its tail. strapped them in securely and. where it charged between the trees. along country lanes and though sleepy villages. All of a sudden. Orlov’s said “if the Aenead is anything to go by. a fearsome fire-breathing beast that holds Italian petrol stations in its thrall. fences. leaping. It was replaced by frantic barking. long. The greyhound sprinted out of the garage-cum-kennel. dodging.Chapter Ten The Sound of One Paw Clapping The growling got louder as they descended. though. with a fond farewell and sufficient honey buns for the rest of the journey. After a few minutes of excited canine interaction. The growling stopped. tree stumps. Louis and Aleksandr found themselves circling slowly down an enormous spiral staircase.” Orlov reassured his companions. A gigantic silver Greyhound. which bored ever deeper into the subterranean depths of the fortress. Melody the parrot attached a howdah-like structure to the greyhound’s lean yet muscular back. “Don’t be afraid.” Legend the unicorn announced. The dog hurtled past isolated farmsteads. They should buy us some time.
“The Penguin Café Orchestra. Eventually. Market leader in Britain he may have been. Seal.” Squelched. It was several minutes before her sea legs returned. Despite the greyhound’s impressive turn of speed on the Oreo Interstate.” Orlov added. when the go-faster pooch took a corner too tightly. bunny hop. “I thought they’d broken up. Louis bristled at the cruel jibe. infuriated by his insensitivity. but solid ground threw the adélie completely. Wild Beasts. Literally. amongst many others. funky gibbon and turkey trot the night away. Danger Mouse. . Sheryl Crow. if not quite the bees’ knees. Glinting on the horizon. Orlov snorted. the buildings bespoke animal brand nirvana: Madison Avenue. Snoop Dogg. or caught sight of a Volkswagen Rabbit. Fleet Foxes. featuring just about every anthropomorphic rock band on the planet was taking place that very afternoon. Whitesnake. “I’m sure the Axeman will appreciate your contribution. rubbing salt into the wound. Seven minutes later. The line up included Gorillaz. 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. Before long. It may not have been the quickest critter on the Lifesavers Turnpike – a steady stream of throbbing hogs (courtesy of Harley). After reaching Number One with “Make Luv”. “Business first. Grizzly Bear.” Bella noted. Wolfmother. he was always on the lookout for the next Chipmunk or. Then we can foxtrot. Louis sulked. he was keen to identify suitable backing tracks for his TV adverts. pointing at the billboard.” Bella gasped. the canine conveyance deposited its dyspeptic passengers at stand five on level three. the ride was far from uncomfortable thanks to the howdah’s independent suspension. Bat for Lashes. Super Furry Animals at Red Bull Arena. the new Eagles. FAO Schwarz. but Lynx didn’t exist in the States.” Louis said casually. Scorpions. Followed by Flat Eric. She ate up the miles like a bowl of Winalot. Mastodon. Central Park Zoo. An open air charity concert. the Wrigley Tunnel yawned before them. Penguins’ gait was unwieldy at the best of times. pleasure later. their mode of conveyance was. Doves. “ACME is top of our agenda. hurrying horses (courtesy of Porsche) and hurtling honking bulldogs (courtesy of Mack trucks) surged past in the outside lane – but the greyhound was inexhaustible. Apart from an occasional unsettling wallow. The threesome fell into sullen silence and resorted to watching the outer boroughs flash by. Noah and the Whale. the Natural History Museum. the greyhound was loping up an access ramp into the irritable bowels of the Pepsi Authority Building. How does that sound? Did I ever show you my meerkat mambo?” The rodent’s cack-handed attempt at humour only made matters worse. Pet Shop Boys.and intensely cultivated market gardens of Hershey Kisses County. What? Louis read the giant roadside poster with amazement. “Must be a homing greyhound. Bella stared daggers at Orlov.” “Maybe we should check it out. a funky little number that accompanied the Lynx Pulse campaign. Hardly panting at all from its exertions. the concrete stalagmites of Madhattan came into view. while trying to regain her equilibrium after their up and down journey. before dashing off again in the direction it came. As ever. pretty darn close to the dog’s bollocks. better yet.
buskers. animal brands especially. nor strolling pedestrians of any kind. while stuffing their faces with fast food. propelled by gusts off the Ever Ready River. one of the few retailing reminders of 42nd Street’s salacious past in its sick puppy days before Disney. devoid of hope and authenticity. A mini tornado of candy bar wrappers spiralled upward. The grimy suspended ceiling stretched into the far distance. There were no lines of eager theatre-goers. The human world is a horrible place. panhandlers. a thermo-nuclear marketing device designed to bypass humans’ anti-adcraft defences. The bubble of hype that holds BrandLand up is particularly big in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and hence most liable to burst. a polystyrene vista punctuated by polychromatic roof supports and posters featuring PepsiCo products. Surely everyone knows that. though. Only the infernal buzzing of the fluorescent lights. He had a better theory: the Madhattan Project. A flotilla of plastic bags in full sail scudded past. squalid. “But surely. penetrate their psychic shields and destroy residual resistance to incoming commercial messages. “such an accident would’ve had some brand survivors. blowing a blizzard of trash before it. Discarded Styrofoam cups bounced aimlessly along the sidewalks. Horribly disfigured. Aleksandr. yakking. It made the Tetley Temperance Tavern look congested. “I think I know what’s happening here. 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. A chill wind whistled in from the east. Balls of newspaper rolled past like urban tumbleweed. branders and brandees obliterated in a dreadful laboratory accident. “The real world is breaking through. Squeeze This. But survivors all the same. perhaps.” Bella said.” . shoving. Marketing gives it meaning. Orlov ignored the ill-educated penguin. yelling at one another. was nowhere to be seen. indicated that the place was operational. as they advanced towards Timex Square.” “Why are there no humans. Brands are the beauty to humankind’s beastliness. Gatorade and Cheetos mainly. Bella brushed a mote of airborne dust from her eye. Mutant maybe. I’m sorry. dirty. Oh. they go. Louis wasn’t convinced by the meerkat’s reasoning. We’re in the middle of a burst brand bubble. just like you said. as if a performance was about to begin. many of which strobed intermittently. cab drivers and barbarian hordes of Madhattanites pushing. hookers.” he said.The Pepsi Authority Bus Terminal was deserted. The neon marquee of Disney’s New Adstersdam Theatre arabesqued before them. “Humanity is nothing without Brands. Reluctantly dragging himself away from the pornographic window display of Hey Whipple. Mindless consumption fills the emptiness. Forty-second Street was equally empty. They’re their only meaningful means of self-definition. then?” Orlov asked in his most condescending manner. caught in the inter-building eddies. security guards. in as cutting a way as he could manage. Something had obviously gone horribly wrong. druggies. If we go. That’s what I think. you never got as far as B. The usual collection of New Yorkie vagrants. did you?” Unfazed and imperturbable.
“Advacuation Procedures Continue Despite Contagion Concerns”. stunned by the update. They were more interested in chasing a posse of fleeing sock puppets – the Pets. “Holy Doughboy. spend. destroying every USP in its path?” Shrugging his slim shoulders. the Vauxhall Corsa grotesques. metastasised and is rapidly spreading throughout Madhattan. Orlov avoided Bella’s imploring look. Luckily. yapping and yelping and snapping and snarling. “Marketing Mortality Rates Reach Record Levels”. . it added. unwelcoming place. an irresistible urge to spend. “Bloody Hellman’s. a mega-selling management tome…” Oh my Gladwell. off Brandway that they were practically in Yonkers. Monkey from Sky TV.” “Gotcha. the pack paid no attention to the eminently pursuable penguin. “You’re saying that a deadly brand virus has somehow mutated.” Louis said. horse-mounted traffic cops. it stated. Even more unwelcoming was the Jumbotron.” Orlov took off. “Brand Flu Outbreak Gets Worse”. A ravening pack of feral brand spokespooches dashed through Timex Square.” Bella groaned. whose circulating text messages chilled Bella to the bone. plus a smattering of rabid Scotties from White & Mackay’s blended whiskey. it went on. the Taco Bell chihuahua and the Hush Puppy basset hound. Then another. “Well. the dogged pug that’s electrified India’s mobile phone market. “let’s find ACME and see what’s what. 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. diplomatically deciding not to contradict the meerkat. 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. Another followed. we know that many human consumers suffer from Affluenza.” Orlov exclaimed. “Well. the Dulux sheepdog. a giant plasma screen shaped like an elephant. lynx and meerkat in their midst. 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. then get the Dell out of here. “What the FCUK is brand flu?” The meerkat quickly regained his composure. spend. Led by Cheeka. “Brand flu?” Bella echoed in a baffled voice.” Louis gasped. Timex Square was an empty.No sooner had Louis uttered the dread words. Louis spotted the Andrex puppy. Devoid of honking yellow cabs. as if the Cheetos cheetah was on his tail. off.com critter. off. His supreme self-belief – encapsulated in his seminal “Simples!” slogan – was wilting in the face of brand catastrophe. than a blood-curdling yowl broke the unnatural silence.
They stood snout to snout. The nearest things to anthropomorphism were Patience and Fortitude. Orlov scanned the eerily empty New Yorkie streets like predators were about to pounce. Quick. The fashion week tents were still standing. “It’s time to surf the World Wide Webster. the meerkat rose on his hind legs. ready for fisticuffs. But Louis cut him off. Lyle & Scott’s imperious eagle. “What’s the address? Quick. 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. I picked this up in an Apple orchard in Hamlet. Louis looked down at him. culminating in a hissy fit of the “Madison Avenue stretches from 23rd to 138th Street” kidney. “Wait for us. He was about to launch into a “we’ve come all this way” rant. We don’t have much time. look left. Orlov backed down. Smirking. Having stared the meerkat out.” Orlov was fit to be tied. I thought you’d been here before” strop. with nary a designer label nor a diffusion line in sight. while you were galloping ahead to Tetley Tavern and getting us all into trouble. pausing only to stare pointedly at the stragglers. He launched into a tirade about keeping the cellphone hidden. while they were in mortal danger.” . Fox Head’s eponymous renard. “No signal. ferret. “For your information. Scampering ahead in his stop.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. Le Tigre’s fashion-forward carnivore or Silo & Roy’s famous fairy penguin. drop down. Louis turned to Bella. followed by “Louis. Evisu Jeans’ red gull. It was a brand free zone. breathing heavily. look round again manner. look right. stand up. Growling. Patrolling down 42nd Street. “Let me handle this. Even in Madhattan. he paused briefly at Bryant Park. Bella looked at Louis.” he said curtly. the two stone lions that guard the entrance to New Yorkie Public Library on 5th Avenue. he pulled an iPaw smartphone from a secret pouch in his pelt. There was no sign of Jack Wills’ snooty grouse. Louis and Bella struggled to keep up. start. Orlov pirouetted in ever-decreasing circles at the junction of east 42nd and Madison. right beside the big BlackBerry patch. flapping idly in the breeze.” the lynx called out as the meerkat forged ahead. The lynx raised his front paws in a “don’t ask me” gesture.” Louis snapped. eyes locked. The meerkat glared at them both. Which way? Which way?” Louis looked at Bella. “Calm down. The penguin did likewise with a “do tell” signal.” Impatient as always. “Madison Avenue’s another block over.” Infuriated. no doubt. getting more infuriated by the second.
creativity evaporates. did you?” Bella shouted. Monkey. We’re off to see the wizard of ads. design.” The meerkat was off like a shot. Armani – as did all the activities that support the brand – advertising. but she felt a tingle travel down her spine. It was her imagination. the lynx looped an arm around his anguished sidekick’s shoulder. He was a British version of the even more legendary Leo Burnett. “You’re getting as bad as Orlov. “Just get Google.” “What?” Bella retorted. originality disappears. believe me.” “That was all accountancy bullshit. She turned round and stared up 42nd Street toward the Condé Gnash Building. China’s laughing up its sleeve at the west. Accountancy’s the bane of branding. Rrrrrrrrr. He’s barking up the wrong office block. The building was just a couple of blocks away. drawing upon painful personal experience in a multi-national organisation. Panther. Her sightline was impeded by scaffolding and construction work on the skyscraper opposite.” He switched off his iPaw. Camel. He was a Panther man himself. “It doesn’t say. The Young and Rubicund building. remember? I know you two don’t get on but unless we stick…” More in sorrow than in anger. Then whirled around again to check Brand Central’s covered forecourt. distracted by something in her peripheral vision. stock market performance and cock-and-bull ideas about shareholder value. Critters he called them. Nothing. publicity. officiating bodies like ACME. not to say incredulity. The brand stayed in the west – Nike. Louis held her back. down-sizing. “World Wide Webster. Pity you didn’t read Anticipation while you were at it and save . Bella made to follow. in a downtown direction. “Let him go. “They’ve off-shored? To India? When? Why?” Louis shrugged.” He held up the display screen of his smartphone. pocketed the smart phone and patted his pelt back into shape. Something or someone was watching them. “I don’t believe it.” Bella moaned. innovation follows. As included. Once production goes.” The connection took forever. “Look. Bella tried to let the Talk Talk wash over her.“Huh?” she said absent-mindedly. the brains behind the Smash Martians. The stress of the quest. It’s an expression I picked up when Unilever was considering an official animal mascot for Lynx. He’d clicked through from Google Street View. Adidas.” “Read that in Wikipedia. “What’s with the misinformation? We’re meant to be a team here. She was sure of it. feeling edgier by the second.” Bella had no time for legends. Racoon. will you. “It’s number 285. 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. “But I thought only manufacturing and back office functions got offshored. research. which was filled with ACME Inc’s homepage. the advertising legend who gave the world Tony the Tiger and Charlie the Tuna. It refers to the legendary adman John Webster.” Louis sighed. a furtive movement outside Brand Central Station. Louis filled the time with chit-chat about Orange’s animal talk plans: Dolphin. scanning the copy with mounting dismay. “designed to justify cost cutting.
The curt note on the door. their Old Glories unfurled. With a heave. jokes and just about anything that detracts from repetitive. Pret A Manger and Payless Shoes. He was interrupted by a banging noise behind him. Bella hurriedly explained the off-shoring scenario. The locked ACME offices. The meerkat stopped dead in his tracks.” Louis said laconically. only with account managers and art directors. Arm & Hammer toothpaste.” Louis let her vent. advertising characters. “Unless the brand flu virus was released by Y and…” Orlov never completed the sentence. It too was devoid of life. The wreckage all around. they strolled down to 285. A pair of angled flagpoles flanked the entrance at first floor level. New Yorkie’s iconic heart logo. A couple of minutes later. let alone embarrassed. The big city was distorting his thinking. penguins are prone to anxiety attacks. all disconcertingly empty. extremely agitated. stiff and straining in the breeze. Although they look laid back. concluding with “you dashed off before hearing the full story.” Louis said before Orlov had a chance to speak. possibly one involving Animatronic products made up from brand body parts – Head & Shoulders shampoo. a strop and sulk situation. no winners or losers. they pushed through the heavy revolving door into a neo-Art Nouveau lobby. Louis wagered that the crazy Russian would return with another crazy conspiracy theory. arm in arm. Von Dutch bloodshot eyes. He simply slipped his forepaw into her flipper. subtlety. Yes. buy-buy-buy sales pitches. mouth agape. Us! Me!!” Winking at Bella. he looked around. Nodding enthusiastically. Aleksandr. Startled. Exactly. the meerkat launched into a blow-by-blow account of his shakedown of the building. Hard sellers hate whimsy. The whole place was completely empty. as did his equally dumbfounded . A conspiracy theory. Bella refused to take the bet. “We know. reason-why. as was the McDonald’s diagonally across the street from Y&R’s imposing headquarters. brand mascots. After checking the list of tenants – ACME was still there – they settled into a leather-alike banquette and waited for the meerkat to reappear. There was no brand war. jingles. a bit like The Sopranos. National Lottery’s disembodied hand. though that may have been the art directors’ department. “Yes. Orlov missed the sarcasm. “Things obviously got out of hand between the two elemental schools of Advertising. “you mean the soft sell and the hard sell conspiracies?” Bella elbowed him in the ribs. Penguins are dying while we flounder around here. the Russian emerged from the elevator. The Adpocalypse is upon us and you’re not helping matters. Fearing another tantrum. isabellines especially. hot. bothered.us the journey. He had a theory. Chuckling. Y&R were caught up in an internecine war between advertising agencies. Louis wondered how anyone could possibly hate Aleksandr. The vacated Y&R floors.” Louis yawned. tugged her toward him in a companionable manner and. They passed a Starbucks. “Corleone the copywriter. They especially hate cute critters. then politely suggested that perhaps he was reading too much into things.” “Oh.” Far from being crestfallen.
then another. serpentining across the surface like fissures in an ice-floe. Frantic. “lock the revolving door. which wasn’t designed to withstand assault by rampaging Roland McDonalds. Glancing round as he ran. .” Bella leapt out of the banquette.” The glass was groaning…groaning…groaning…gone. the zombies lumbered after their fleeing quarry. They spilled into the street. the zombie was momentarily confused. thump. Then a fourth. Louis lost the head.” he added. Let’s get out of here!” “Hurry. There was no time to lose. heading away from McDonald’s on Madison. Caught betwixt and between. The alarm alerted the undead. Thump. thump. the three of them backed up several paces. then went berserk trying to batter its way in. thump. trapped in one of the compartments of the revolving door. He was joined by a second Ronald McDonald. round. vaulted down a short flight of steps using the brass hand rails for leverage.” He led the way through three sets of swing doors. Without pausing to dust themselves down. A crack appeared in the pane.” Bella urged. still lost in the alternate universe of conspiracy theories. It suddenly shattered. They picked themselves up. 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. Soon the entire office frontage was filled with undead McDonalds. Their sporadic pounding coalesced into a rhythmic thump. An earsplitting alarm went off. Arms outstretched. “Maybe they’re Adbominables. Active and attention seeking Ronald McDonald may have been. the trio dashed up East 40th Street.companions. moaning and groaning and hammering the glass. thump. “Quick. “There’s more of them coming from the McDonald’s across the street. the latter sprinting on all fours. then another. “What does it matter if they’re McMummies or Big Mac foots or nice New Yorkie Jewish golems. out. the former sliding on the marble. some with freshly-laundered designer apparel attached. Its catatonic associates followed suit. thump. “Are you sure they’re zombies?” Orlov asked in a weird otherworldly monotone. thump. Catapulted out of his crazy reverie. He pushed again. He shook the aluminium handles with all his meerkat might. Orlov caught sight of the creatures emerging from a dry cleaners on the corner. Thump. Nothing. Then a third. the zombie clown stood outside Young and Rubicund’s offices. Something or someone was alive and active and trying to attract their attention. Orlov hurried towards the elevators and the stairwell beyond. “Lucky I checked out the building. like a fire tender on emergency call. but alive he most certainly wasn’t. scattering razor sharp shards and pasty faced clowns all over the shop. “There’s a side entrance on to 40th Street. Nada. It was locked. The door burst open. however.” Orlov shouted over his shoulder. jumping to his feet. Eyes glassy and unseeing.” Louis yelled. Almost. then charged at the barrier together. Bella and Louis did likewise. all scrabbling and scrambling to gain access. and pushed on the side door. face squashed against the glass trying desperately to break through. The lobby looked like a three-ring circus during a comedy acrobatic act that had gone horribly wrong.
No surrender. “Let’s stand and fight. with an unrepeatable oath. “I think there’s a food court in that place. With no realistic alternative. The threesome got to the corner of and Park Avenue. They’re…” Louis tugged on her flipper. Bella stowed her bravado and followed at full tilt.” Orlov said to himself. Did you see the complexions on them? That comes from eating too many supersized fries.” Bella said. “No. A third was coming towards them along 40th from Lexington Avenue. A penguin’s worth twenty Filet-O-Fish. in the direction of Brand Central Station. 40th . Bella. as he scampered after his brothers in brand. A second line of Ronalds was advancing up Park Avenue from downtown.But the quarry was too quick for them. This way.” He galloped up Park Avenue. They’re milkshakes. This way. where they paused to catch their collective breath. “We’re trapped. no. They’re wusses. They’re softies.
and hurtled down the white-tiled tunnel to the trains. scanning the plan for a route through the labyrinth. “Lynxes excepted. 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. “Bet you could murder a McFlurry!” “Do you think they were flesh-eating zombies. “I think we’ve lost them. Bella eventually brought the banterers back to business. skidded past the clock-topped information booth that features in countless chick-flicks. those McTofus are really something. you know.” Suppressing a smile. “A good brand is hard to find. which ordinarily copes with 150. they ran pell-mell down the much-photographed double staircase of Carrara marble.” Wiping her eyes. Louis snorted and fed Orlov a line.” Bella panted. galloped across the celebrated cyan-ceilinged concourse. winking at the other half of his double act. But my sprinting’s not so good.” The meerkat cracked up. As Bella. Rrrrrrrr. “But downtown’s not a good move. albeit with difficulty. He won’t be there anyway.000 passengers per day.” Orlov said.” Louis continued. Not a sinner stirred in the vast plaza. “How can you be so sure?” . “or strict vegetarians? I understand McDonald’s is into healthy options these days.” “Yes. by way of explanation. “Yes. holding her side. they were confronted once more with an enormous empty space. “Okay guys.” Bella deadpanned. Giggling. gasping for breath. “Don’t bet on it. But none of them are McDonald’s. the ordinarily antagonistic pair burst into hysterical laughter.Chapter Twelve Beau Jest Brand Central Station contains thirty-six eateries. Where to now?” “We need the A-line to SoHo. then with a roar that echoed off the tunnel walls. There’s more McDonalds south of Houston than in the whole of South Dakota.” he conceded.” Unabashed.” he commiserated.” “I don’t know any heroic lynxes. right Louis?” “Right. No bother. “Stitch. grinning. “Different muscle groups. Aleksandr and Louis the Lynx pushed through the enormous entrance doors.” Louis laughed. The Ronalds were coming from downtown.” Orlov empathised. most in a gourmet food court beneath the main concourse. “That’s where Flat Eric lives. face contorted in agony. “I can swim for hours. looking anxiously behind them. the lynx tried to sympathise. the brand mascot’s brand mascot. she told them of her youthful ambition to meet Ronald McDonald.” she added. “Never meet your heroes. Too worked up to worry.” Orlov made for a map of Brand Central. I believe penguin stitch is a real pain in the rump.” Orlov said. “I’m starving after all that exercise. Sniggering to start.
The rocking of the carriage took its toll on Bella.” Louis sighed. exhaustion soon caught up with them. as they tried to get their bearings.” The meerkat hesitated. the one that does international flights. as he pressed his face against the window. I haven’t seen any taxis or heard any trains. who started snoring like a Weddell Seal with sinusitis.“There isn’t anybody here!” Bella interrupted. Louis?” “It’s getting late. “We’ve had a very trying day.” “Decisions. We should be safe there. even without the crushing and jostling and claustrophobia that are par for the concourse in Brand Central Station. Inside a greenhouse. swivelling his head this way and that.” he said. Things’ll be clearer then. The Ronalds were coming from a downtown direction. until he too failed the sleepy-time test. “I’m heading for SoHo. Bella was sweating like a runner in the Alice Springs marathon. Hot sun. because there’s no public transportation. one suburban hideout was a good as the next. though. Bella’s obsession with ACME. decisions. since everyone was still on edge despite the endorphin-activated jollity.” Louis croaked. trying to make the peace. The distant screech of a subway train indicated that at least one line was running and. as all lines led out of New Yorkie. “ACME’s our priority. was made for them. “All of which are moot.” She looked from one drained friend to the other. “Wha…wha…what?” Her mouth was a dry as a dromedary’s armpit after a spray with Dove deodorant. peeping outside. decisions. Aleksandr. “Looks like Coney Island. Let’s rest up for the night and decide what to do in the morning. Bella awoke with a start. in as ladylike a manner as she could manage. Wiping away the penguinny perspiration. 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. Orlov launched into an apoplectic speech that included references to McDonald’s restaurants in departure lounge food courts. “If that’s where we decide to go. “Where are you thinking of hiding out?” “Bronx Zoo.” .” Understandably perhaps. He looked around in that ever-wary way. Cat naps are catnip to cats of all creeds. Inside a smelting plant. the moment of light relief forgotten. Settled in their seats. If not quite melting. ACME. Louis struggled against his drooping eyelids. to the exclusion of others’ objectives and her waste of two wishes when the Roc was on tap.” the lynx said. “We must have missed our stop. “Coming with me. The sun was shining into the subway carriage. just as the doors were closing. Have you?” The decision. The place felt like an oven. she shook her still-slumbering companions. It’s well uptown. as it happened.” “Brooklyn Zoo’s better. We need to make our way to JWT Airport. It’s relocated to India. Then Orlov followed suit. ACME. On Mercury.” Bella said. “It’s beyond the reach of Madhattan’s McDonalds and on the way to JWT. twitching spasmodically as the Land of Nod made him welcome. And tasted like it too. They too struggled with dry mouth and dehydration. placing a paw across his furry brow for irreverent effect. Boiling sun. Finding the right platform wasn’t easy. huge crowds of people trying to flee the ravages of brand flu.
The door hissed open. held court behind the bar. Whatever their phylum. was a poseur.” Too parched to say anything. The Birds Custard bluebird. they stumbled down from the train and trudged along the boiling boardwalk toward what passed for civilisation. Far Away. the monocled. A cluster of mudbrick dwellings. situated to one side of the beastly bazaar. the brightly-coloured awnings that stretched haphazardly between the whitewashed buildings afforded a modicum of welcome shade. The curtain of cool air at its entrance was the nearest thing to paradise this side of the LG Glacier. vaguely recalling A for Amusement Park. Their eyes were still adjusting to the darkness. some were of the scorpion persuasion and quite a few had asp written all over them. his afro bouncing in time with his politically incorrect chortles. the Kalahari was a chill cabinet compared to their carriage. Louis pointed at a sand-blasted signpost by the side of the slatted walkway. It was hotter outside than in. “This doesn’t look like Steeplechase Pier to me. most of which were counterfeit. regaling his patrons with cock and bull stories about his time in the Dolly Mixtures mines. Unselfconsciously. Gasping for a drink. masticating her words like they were made of Shredded Wheat. Onlookers.” Orlov rasped. vampire bats and flying foxes primarily – since finding somewhere to sip. A sea of sand stretched in one direction.“Not a problem. an imposter. “We’re not in Brooklyn anymore. immaculately dressed in her fashionably retro livery. Hydration was the brand band’s priority. Bella stood in the doorway. Except that they weren’t flies. each and every one was desperate to sell their wares. Bella wished she was far. his rise to fame and fortune in the Roaring Twenties. Twinned with Wide Blue Yonder and Far. Mercifully. it practically begged to be patronised by hot and bothered vagabrands. in short. a fraud. “I reckon we’re in Desert Quarter. unashamedly showering in the fountain of frigidity.” Orlov remarked. Botanic Gardens too. as the hawkers and hucksters and merchants and tradesmen of FleaBey Bazaar descended on the newcomers like flies. dune piled upon dune. Self-respect be damned. it said.” Bella struggled to speak. be gone. flat-roofed and ogee arched. ghost trains and roller coasters. The heat was fearsome. beckoned from the other. Grill and Waterhole. We’ll be safe among the carousels. Orlov and Louis practically dragged her into the cavernous tavern. Bertie Bassett. and how Mr Peanut. piled upon dune. Many were of the dung beetle ilk. twisting and turning. A poor man’s Bertie Bassett. as best they could. sup and freshen up was top of the agenda.” She pushed the door release button of the boiling subway carriage. Welcome to Mirage. Reddy Kilowatt beamed in the corner. The brand character caravanserai was full to overflowing. like eco- . spats-wearing spokespulse for Planters. Mine host. Bertie Bassett’s Bar. top-hatted. not only looked inviting. far away. The barflies hung on his every word. “There’s an aquarium on Coney. trilled and tittered at Bertie’s bon mots. Gathering their wits. Home of Flea-Bey Bazaar. Much as he loved dry heat. They pushed passed the bartering beasts and refused to listen to the medina’s marketing marsupials – fruit bats. boys. The Robertson’s golly grinned inanely. The chill of the place was counterbalanced by the warmth of the welcome and the delightful scent of freshly made liquorice. when brand icons were dapper men about town.
No sign of Owl City. Louis was collared by the meerkat. Kingfisher Beer and several other bootylicious brandbirds. Last he saw she was sitting at the bar. spokespenguins held to ransom.unfriendly lightbulbs were going out of fashion. stumbled into the watering hole ready to rock and roll on the rocks. pig nuts and pygmy nuts. Dropped.” He hadn’t quite forgotten their exchange on the howdah. Not only were they popularly known as monkey nuts. Meanwhile. for eucalyptus. Grey Goose. A poultry matter. We’re in Brandablanca. No matter. The Beatles. The Monkees. “I’ll give you a shout when the meerkat mooch starts. he put on “Fly Like an Eagle”. the Vladic stork perched at the piano. He didn’t trust the liquorice loudmouth and no amount of ice cold libations would allay his suspicion. “Notice anything suspicious?” Orlov asked his travelling companion. never mind “Fireflies”. Meerkat mambo. Louis. Unconcerned.” “Uh-huh?” “They’re retired. let alone an LAX. Buddy Holly and the Crickets. While winking at Miss Thunderbird Fortified Wine. Orlov didn’t join in. the marketing equivalent of Rick’s Bar. consisting of Wild Turkey. followed by “Wild Thing”. Brusquely. Getting ready to strut his funky stuff. Orlov seized the upper arm of his lust-addled acquaintance and squeezed as hard as he could. Where’s Bella?” Louis hadn’t a clue. was in seventh heaven. He started mumbling and grumbling to himself about Arachis hypogaea.” “Right. “All of the icons in this bar are Anachronisms. “This is the last brand saloon. “Chicken feed.” Undeterred. The lynx hadn’t. the proper name for the peanut family.” “I’d rather you kept Axe out of this. just as the stork’s set was finishing. Orlov persisted. he sashayed over to the jukebox and checked the classic rock selection. Monkey Business and more. spokescreatures sold into bondage. All axed by their advertising agencies. Famous Grouse. Literally in the case of the Löwenbräu lion. We’ve got to get out of here. Smirking. Adam and the Ants. he asked the interfering stoat to step aside. but Mr Peanut predated Bertie Bassett by at least a decade. bashing out hits from Cats and The Lion King. he didn’t give a 4X. The Quantas koala knocked back brewski after brewski. “Crocodile Rock” and “Foxy Lady”. a full-bodied Californian that goes down smoothly. “What’s a thousand dollars?” he asked rhetorically. sipping Salty Dog cocktails. A hen party. Howlin Wolf. much to his annoyance. Lapsed. Horse Feathers. the audience roared. Bella and Louis supped up. Unceremoniously dropped by the airline. while drinking in the atmosphere of Bertie’s brewhouse. Louis didn’t .” “It’s mambo. It was time to let his haunches do the talkin. Orlov launched into a rant about the Brand Slave Trade. nor did he want to know right now. History. “Hound Dog”.” Liquored up on hard liquorice. a sure-fire floor filler. Panicking. interspersed with Groucho Marx quips from Duck Soup. The Animals. a golden oldie from the Steve Miller Band. the lusty lummox.
Except when I’m on the Salty Dogs.” “Let’s get going. after hearing what I overheard in the ladies.” she said. It wasn’t so funny the second time. he punched her lightly on the shoulder. doc?” Bella forced a smile. then gestured in the general direction of the bar. “You’ve got the McMunchies and you could kill a Big Mac with fries. He was more interested in beginning a beautiful friendship with Miss Puffin Books.” “So you’re saying ACME isn’t in India after all? It’s just up the road from here?” “Well. They thought we were brand bounty hunters. standing in the shade. Releasing his grip.” “I’m afraid it is our problem. apparently. then. “What’s up. Bella was outside.” “You haven’t heard the worst bit yet. Orlov gave up on the lynx. only the Vlasic stork entertaining a Nestlé fledgling. I need something to calm me down. either. trying to get to Hamlet. They’re in transit.” “Excellent. However.” Ambitiously aiming for playfulness. a Happy Meal. “They’ve all escaped from a place up country. There was no sign of Bella. “Okay. having a cigarette. He only has hours to live and the hospital’s a long way away. Mr Kipling’s been spotted there. stubbing out her illicit cigarette and exhaling heavily.” “I don’t. a nice tight volume with slight foxing. while complaining anachronistically about the rise of recorded music and the concomitant decline of live performance. He slipped into the backstage area.” .” “Don’t tell me. then. “But what’s it to us? They’re not our problem. trying to hide his relief. “I didn’t know you smoked. deep in thought.” the abstemious meerkat said. He made his way to the restrooms. He’s on his death bed.” “So that’s why the villagers were so suspicious. the CEO is.” “Exactly.” Bella nodded. though never rising above ill-at-ease. No sign of her there.want to know.
Part V Just Deserts .
Bella was impressed. he felt obliged to defend the family’s dancefloor honour. Mustapha cut his prices even more. Irate. Ali Burberry. attracting odd looks and odder offers from eager . He rattled through a well-oiled sales spiel. Mustapha immediately cut his prices. Ali Brioni. Ali Bally. As a feline of sorts.Chapter Thirteen Mista Kipling. The rouble wasn’t exactly the hardest of currencies. as the mismatched pair set off for the subway station. he refused to let go. fashion designer to the stars. spices. He Dead Decision made. ceramics and lots and lots of counterfeit goods. awimoway. throwing shapes with Miss Puffin Books. Orlov made for the door. So they left him to it. Orlov led the way through the labyrinth of higgledy-piggledy streets stuffed with market stalls selling silks. His desert coloured cat-suits were to die for. He paused to get his bearings. “I’ll be back. Bella and Orlov were dragged into his “design studio”.” Orlov answered. Pelican and Penguin.” Bella asked anxiously.” Bella promised. A glad-handling dung beetle barred their way. Only the name of the operation let it down: Mustapha Midden’s Merchandise Mart. “I’d bet my bottom rouble on it. Ali Boden. A mere man. Unconcerned. He still didn’t want to know. Ali Balenciaga. The lynx didn’t care. carpets. Orlov insisted that they leave right now. They explained the situation to him. Ali Bottega Veneta. he was definitely getting more giggles than admiring glances from Miss Books’ sisters. “Do you think he’ll be all right. Louis wasn’t in the same league.” Bella wasn’t reassured. He sat on his hunkers and looked left and right in that mad meerkat manner. despite her desire to depart. awimoway. Mustapha’s own label outfits were superior to anything she’d seen on Paris. more emphatically than before. Far from being a rip-off of western designers. His pincers were very powerful and once they grasped his fashion victims their fate was sealed. Bella and Orlov caught the attention of the high-kicking wildcat. The meerkat was much less impressed. he didn’t understand the clothes purchasing process. Resplendent in her bright orange jacket. He didn’t want to know. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started up. they returned to the bar. sweetmeats. He had a body to pop and a rrrrrrrrreputation to polish. However they didn’t have time to argue the toss. The proprietors’ names were pretty explicit: Ali Barbour. His logo. as Aleksandr shepherded her out of the shop and into the bustling bazaar. Miss Books was a first-class jitterbugger. “He’ll be there when we get back. But he moaned so much about the task in hand that Bella aborted the sale. was also quite striking. a hole in the wall where the medina met the mosque. awimoway… After much gotta-go semaphore. He introduced himself as Mustapha. laying out his wares as he talked. a stylised scarab in a circle. If not quite doing a dad-on-the-dancefloor routine. Mustapha offered two for the price of one. shouting over the music. carvings. Talking all the while. Awimoway. They shoved him aside. Reluctantly. Louis was on the dancefloor. They explained the situation to him again.
Only a palm-fringed oasis. He offered one to Orlov. eyelids narrowed.” He plunged back into the casbah and. Joe was undeniably cool. brands go. There was no sign of the subway station. Orlov accepted. with Bella in hot and bothered pursuit. Breath like a brazier. grumbling and griping all the while. Joe brayed in his face then knelt for Bella to mount. indifferent to everyone around him. Instead. then scampered off through the swirling crowds. He stopped shouting for a second to wave goodbye.” he decided. Bella decided. Eventually. Only a dilapidated Foreign Legion fort stood between them and a rolling ocean of sand. Persecuted for appealing to impressionable adolescents. Orlov didn’t. as her sheepish sidekick gathered his geographical wits for yet another attempt. “Whoops. shooting the breeze about their brand adventures. Careless squawk costs lives. he was as cool as a walrus with an icicle in every orifice. populated by belching braying camels. “So much for kat-nav. as a peacemaker. detached. very. They sat in the shade of a gnarled acacia. looking down on all he surveyed. through tamarisk thickets. Still no sign of a subway. hoping to bond with the brute. very bad idea. The shit of the desert set off. They were worrying animal omens. Unwisely. she let him talk himself out as the temperature soared and they padded on. Smokin Joe told him not to worry. Mustapha Midden stood by the waterhole. arguing vociferously and gesticulating wildly at the iconic camel’s agent. Joe called a halt. Scorpion armoured vehicles. nostrils flared. they’re hot. The horizon still shimmered in the heat haze. But business was business. Brands come. It was no ordinary dromedary moreover. The old lungs weren’t what they were. . they’re a delight. Must be the other way. blowing smoke rings. across eroded sandstone pavements studded with bleached skeletons of Tiger tanks. he explained with a bronchial cough. Puma helicopters. This way was the wrong way.” Orlov apologised. whipping out his Dunhill Rollagas to reciprocate. they’re not. The horizon shimmered in the heat haze. Orlov unburdened himself about his debatable durability. He looked supercool too – haughty. “sorry about that. good-for-nothing. a disgrace. his dubious long-term commercial prospects. Even in the searing heat of the desert. down dune. up dune. head aloft. he launched into a tirade about prattling penguins in general and Bella the blabbermouth in particular. It was Joe Camel himself. before lighting up an unfiltered king-size. good fun. Bella waved back. 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. “Having trouble?” Mustapha Midden asked. stood between them and the same sand sea. plus provisions for their journey. She told the beetle of their intentions.merchants. emerged on the other side. Mr Midden said that was a very. Harrier jets. past thorn-bush. Missy Bella?” Orlov blanched. Way too hot to argue. Orlov offered him a Lark. “This way.” Bella said beneath her breath. A dung beetle barred their way. after much pushing and shoving. dragging deeply. fabled spokesungulate for Altria’s preeminent cigarette brand. With a few swift clicks of his pincers – coupled with rapid-fire negotiations – he had secured them a dromedary. “Need a hand? Can I help you with anything.
slipping and sliding as they scaled the scree-surfaced mesa.” Bella replied brusquely. Customers are fickle. The sight that greeted them at the summit was unexpected. after all.” “You’ve carried me far enough already. brightly coloured flowerbeds and acres of glorious greensward. speaking slowly. they found themselves gazing down on a green and pleasant gated community. Anticipating uninviting salt flats. It was the Betty Crocker Rest Home for Retired Brand Characters. which rolled back down the ravine. Momentarily inattentive.” “That’s true. where Betty Crocker herself would meet them. selling more ancillary merchandise than Coke’s polar bears and Budweiser’s Clydesdales combined. You can go back if you want to. checked their brand credentials then directed them towards an administrative block. Aleksandr. or something similar. stumbling repeatedly in the rocky terrain. Only a churl would point out that Joe Camel. Bella and Orlov advanced toward the lustrous condo complex. Its low-rise red-roofed residential facilities were surrounded by croquet lawns. She could taste him. It was all too much. The Maytag repair man. It was a refuge. The Bertie Bassett barflies above all. “Take care of Louis for me. as they approached the adobe gatehouse. a benison. causing a mini landslide. Supporting each other. she wept for her dead mummy. “I can carry you the rest of the way. to put it mildly. if you want. Bella. “I’ve come this far. with a bipolar meerkat for good measure. Sorry. Aleksandr. a steep canyon carved out of the hillside.” The meerkat looked from one to the other. having decided what to do. Don’t pander. earnestly.” He indicated with his hoof. a tropical island in a sea of sand. smiling.bad influence. Fashion changes. . having finally found gainful employment.” Orlov murmured.” he laughed and pulled her up with one paw. Mr Kipling was near now. who once bestrode BrandLand. “Your funeral. was reduced to ferrying an isabelline penguin across the Adhara Desert. “What rumours?” The camel explained. undecided. “It’s just over that rise. This is as far as I go. “…brand characters talk. Don’t lose hope. Rounding a bend in the dry river bed. Bella hobbled on. Sobbing uncontrollably. “Looks innocent enough. I’m going to see it through. “It’s just that…” He threw his cigarette butt away with a heavy sigh. Whatever. dead best friend. style’s forever. dead brand quest… “Want me to strap that ankle for you?” Orlov was looking down at her.” she shouted over her shoulder. rising majestically after his moment of R&R. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Joe asked. she twisted her ankle on a boulder. I’m an icon. Stay true to yourself. bad as in good. his sang-froid abandoned. Churlishness was the last thing on Bella’s mind.” “What things?” Orlov interrupted. I’ve heard things. You know how it is. dead daddy. Bella nodded appreciatively. Joe shrugged. Five minutes later. She waddled up the wadi. Amazed. tennis courts.” “Ciao. Rumours. she sat on a stone and burst into tears. They could hear the sprinklers hissing as they sprayed their aquatic balm onto the once parched earth. they clambered up the dusty gulch.
Crazy Eddie. Grrrr. dreaming dreams of Ragnarök and 0% APRs. ranging from Ashtanga yoga to ballroom dancing classes. “I think you’ll be impressed. The mute mutt kept mum. “Nipper? Who’s Nipper?” Bella asked. she took Bella and Orlov on a whistlestop tour of the premises. rising from her sofa. waving his paws to and fro in a torrent of canine communication. Alka Seltzer’s Speedy. HMV’s venerable brand mascot was paying for its youthful indiscretions. Aunt Jemima. She looked like Joan Rivers in a wind tunnel. woof. Bow-wow. Betty herself had seen better days. They peeked into the communal sitting room. Orlov spelled out his request in Admerican Sign Language. thick carpets. their raping. as they were ushered into her office. the Coppertone girl. Yap. the irritating paper clip from Windows 2000. woof. Ruff. increasing market share. smiling benignly. a kind of Betty Ford clinic for brand icons whose fifteen minutes of fame were over. the unforgettable Budweiser lizards. sitting in a circle of silence. “What’s he saying?” Bella said. Hartley. the Betty Crocker Rest Home enabled once bountiful brands to enjoy life. pillaging and what’s-in-your-wallet days behind them. Nicole and Papa. Johnny English of Mastercard and movie fame. with its ear cocked up against the loudspeaker. joining her friend beside a canine that wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth. shouting ever-louder for Nipper’s autograph. the convenience stores and the community centre. “Look.” . Bow-wow.“Welcome to paradise. Frankie and Louie. Beattie and Buzby. The smell of home cooking wafted around the room. “Woof. Clippit. it soon became apparent that the dog was as deaf as a post and partially sighted to boot. Frito Bandito. However. a homey assemblage of chintz curtains. woof.” Without further ado. the coffee shops. After decades of listening to heavy metal music. The other corner was occupied by a mangy pooch in an armchair. In return for a small proportion of their remaining brand equity. making their mouths water and tummies rumble. the forgotten British Telecom titans. as orange as ever. It was filled with immortal brand icons. Woof. free from the stresses and strains of making the sale. the golf course. regretfully. Howard Brown.” Betty said.R. formerly the face of Renault cars and just as smug as ever. plump cushions. Joe Isuzu. overstuffed sofas and comfortable rocking chairs. seemingly enjoying a post-prandial snooze: J. assorted Scottish Widows. “What’s he saying?” “Woof. look. the arts and crafts studios. But she was friendly enough. “Would you like to look around?” she said. The once irrepressible Capital One Vikings were clustered in one corner. though it took off its sunglasses and peered myopically toward the enthusiastic twosome. “It’s only Nipper!” His little furry ferret face was flushed with excitement as he dashed across to the short-haired terrier. On a whim.” Orlov replied. At first she thought its shades were an affectation and its refusal to answer questions a sign of unspeakable brand arrogance. the Tango man. who’d seen better days. which offered a variety of time-filling activities. shouting ever louder in a cacophonous marketing world.” Orlov cried. taking in the gymnasium. explaining the rationale for their operation. Orlov tried to get through to it. Nipper responded eagerly. Repeated bouts of plastic surgery had wreaked havoc on her formerly fetching features.
cu…cun…” “A cunning con artist?” “Something like that. Betty observed that they weren’t going anywhere. . Get out. They were there for the duration. Right now. Never was.. Crocker’s a…c. Kipling’s a come-on. He’s not here. Their accommodation was waiting for them. Thinking quickly.“Which means?” “You’re in terrible danger. they thanked their generous host for the guided tour but said they had to be on their way. Smiling benevolently. They’d walked into a trap.” Orlov and Bella exchanged anguished glances.
which tightened inexorably. “don’t move”. However. though he wasn’t as young as he was. Was Rohypnol involved? He hoped so. he’d prefer to draw a veil over. given the free floorshow Louis provided. partly covered by a thin horsehair blanket. “lie still”.” The agony was unrelenting. With a sudden shudder of horror. as are bladders full to bursting. Louis desperately needed a drink and a bathroom. eyes throbbing and all-but squeaking in their sockets. Red Robin”. well.” The torture wouldn’t stop. Lynxes were lithe. Was Viagra involved? He hoped not. youza. the lynx tried to get his bearings. followed by “Chirpy. though they were welcome to Bertie’s allsorts. he couldn’t remember a night he couldn’t remember. Dancing with Miss Puffin Books? Check. . The pain of sudden illumination might annihilate his remaining ocular nerves and neurological wellbeing generally. complete with arm actions as they swam and they swam all over the dam? He didn’t know which was worse. Barred? There were bars on the door panel as well. Cheep”. frankly.Chapter Fourteen You’re Never Alone With a Brand “Arrrrrrgggggh. Did he really lead the bar in a tuneless chorus of “When the Red. Every fibre of his psychological being shouted “stay put”. but when nature makes physical demands animals respond instinctively. Dehydration is a corollary of drunken degeneracy. Dirty dancing with Wild Turkey? Double check. but there was a limit. He’d spent more than a few nights on the tiles and one or two Lynx launches had got out of hand. the mortification or the migraine. Groaning. He could just see the sky lightening through a barred window above his bed. Then things got a bit hazy. youza. Cheep. Chirpy. Better not. Presumably there were bar snack sneak thieves around town. though he’d try anything once and the pain he was feeling was certainly suggestive of strenuous activity. And instantly regretted it when his temples were clamped by an invisible vice. though they only had to ask. mercilessly. There were sacks of bar snacks stacked against one wall. “Oooooohhhhh. Head splitting. Then there was that hot tub threesome with Elizabeth Arden and Estée Lauder which. Perhaps he’d passed out and Bertie took pity on him. Was bondage gear involved? He wasn’t sure. He looked around. He flopped back down again. He was in a storeroom of some kind. feeling queasy. He decided to risk the consequences of getting up and moving around. Doing the duckwalk with diverse Playboy Bunnies? Youza. Louis had never had a hangover like it. he remembered several more moments of madness. He was lying on a small camp bed.” The pain was excruciating. followed by “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” followed by…Louis felt a wave of shame wash over his shattered body…”Three Little Fishies”. He moaned again and wondered if he dare switch on the light. Louis sat up with a start. It was the least the bar owner could do. “Noooooooooo. Dawn would be up and about before long. Can’t be too careful. Louis tried to reassemble the pieces of the previous evening.
which flapped to and fro in his wake. Bertie Bassett was peeping through the bars. rabbiteared guard remained silent. then tried again.” His Ernst Blofeld impersonation was a bit shaky – understandably – and stroking an imaginary Persian cat could lead to incarceration .” There was movement. albeit not on account of the nausea. Louis needed all the help he could get. Presumably. peered through the iron bars. Ooohhh yeaaah. All was quiet apart from the distant barking of desert foxes. If not Bertie himself. Improvising to the best of his depleted ability. the red-suited figure stood up and walked away. waited for the palpitations to pass. He squeezed his face against the bars and. Louis positioned a Pixar barrel beneath the tiny window. as the dawn’s pink glow caught their conical domes and advanced slowly down their slim and shapely spires. His iPaw was missing. squinted down the gloomy corridor outside. kicking the door and shaking the bars. He banged on the door. hoping to attract someone’s attention. holding it in. fiddling with an iPaw. hoping to see what the thieving bastard was up to. His red-suited. A call to prayer was imminent. sugary. the shakes. shoved it open with difficulty. Mr Bassett. Sobriety took hold. there were several sealed barrels of something called Pixar BP Gelatin. The pre-dawn streets of Mirage were empty. It was sweet. He shouted for assistance. Only the minarets showed signs of life. though he had no idea where BP Gelatin fitted into the picture. something suspiciously delicious assailed his nostrils. It was because the door was locked and no amount of tugging. Louis’s iPaw. Louis angled his face on the bars. with a view to ringing the bar. He recognised the movie studio’s desk-lamp logo. liquorice-like. ordering a Domino’s pizza for all Louis knew. Livid.” he shouted. There was no sign of a cell phone. head thumping. before disappearing through a swinging access door. surely there’d be a barman or cleaner or dogsbody to pick up the phone. Switching off the iPaw with a bleep. He sniffed. despite the suffering inflicted on his fried eyeballs. “Christ. grabbing hold with both hands. He clambered onto it awkwardly and. He searched around the room – his cell – without success. trying to place the aroma. lumbered into the storeroom in that ungainly way of his and plonked himself down on a big sack of bar snacks. “I’m talking to you. to keep the Playboy Bunnies at bay. “I’m talking to you. He paused. briskly. “I’ve been expecting you. the lynx yelled at his gaoler. There was nothing to see except more storeroom doors.It was a decision Louis lived to regret. Louis looked up. “Avoid the Noid. you son of a bitch. dying for a drink.” Louis sat on the bed with his head in his paws. He unlocked the door. but the best he could manage was a drymouthed croak. He jumped down from the cask – a mistake – and made for the door. Apart from the sacks of snacks. Louis played it cool. Suddenly. Maybe he’d been locked up for his own safety.” he called out. Louis rushed over to the camp bed and checked underneath. a cracked-croak stream of abuse that could curl more hairs than a Helena Rubenstein home permanent. the general out of body experience as he staggered toward the door. He reached for his iPaw. Anxiety mounting. eyes fixed on the smart phone. And a figure sitting silently at the end. yanking or pulling would shift the thing.
” he said. We turn minor conditions like trapped wind into life-threatening. he started whistling “Three Little Fishies”. We convince them that that someone is a short ride across the desert. “But I thought your bar was a refuge. Mr Lynx. Here’s lookin’ at you. and suchlike. buy-or-die issues. kid. “We send brands up country and they send back BPs – by-products.” Louis countered. which was a kick in the teeth for the shame-faced lynx. “Are they found at the bottom of the lollipop garden. The liquorice kingpin curled his lower lip. They never come back. he realised that something wasn’t right.” For a second Louis considered correcting Bassett on his Bond misquotation – that was supposed to be his line – but thought better of it. an escape route for persecuted brands. He kept his cool instead. some of them come back or. “Marketing’s inherently melodramatic. “Does a wobbly stork deliver them?” he answered.” There was no time to lose. as the most mortifying moment of the night rushed back to him in all its tabletop tap-dancing horror. Mr Lynx. Instead. the icon slapped the sack he was sitting on and nodded towards a Pixar barrel. He had to find Bella and Orlov before they fell into a trap.” he said. The count-line confectionary giant refused to play his part. because his personal peccadilloes involving lashings of Jell-O were none of Bertie Bassett’s business. He had to get moving right away. “Maybe. hangover overcome by willpower alone. Bassett or no Bassett. We represent the end of beautiful friendships. “We’re a kind of Rick’s Bar in reverse. Bertie Bassett”. Have you forgotten your training. “They come from that.” “That’s what we want them to believe. Louis refused to be drawn. dusted himself down and sauntered in his disjointed fashion towards the door.” Although Louis wasn’t firing on all cylinders.in cultures unfamiliar with 007 conventions.” Bassett smiled.” “I’m not with you. rising energetically from his camp bed. the liquorice magnate said nothing. But it was the best he could do in the circumstances. Nonchalant yet nasty.” “Most of the people who come to our nightclub are looking for someone or something. the Rick’s Bar of BrandLand. “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. “But why. “Your days are numbered. We make dramas out of crises. Unilever boy?” He stood up. Louis cursed himself for partying while his friends were in peril. under a candy floss cabbage?” Casually checking his fingernails. “That’s a bit melodramatic.” “I see. Well. And today’s the day when your number’s up. some parts of them come back.” . Bertie. should I say. nodding toward the barrels once more. round up the usual suspects. “Jelly Daddy and Jelly Mummy get together and do the jelly jigga-jiggy. in response to the ridiculous death threat. that is – which we put to productive use in our production plant next door.” Bassett segued into “A Four Legged Friend”. “Ever wondered where Jelly Babies come from?” Wisely. It might already be too late. continuing to play it cool. not even “My name is Bassett.” he said.
a sense reinforced by the brand trafficker’s parting shot. Although he was still alive. he sensed that Bassett was serious. Everlasting shame is not a term used lightly where brand icons foregather.Ordinarily. He started humming “Don’t You Wish Your Gerbil Was Hot Like Me?”. Louis felt his hind legs give way as the previous night’s mercifully forgotten events reared up in his mind once more. but the shocked faces of the audience during Louis’s impromptu tribute to Richard Gere would live with him forever. a cold sweat clinging to his furry brow. Five minutes later – though it may have been longer – the lynx awoke from his dead faint. He soon would. However. He should have known better than to tempt fate. . Anything to make the memory go away. he actually wanted Bassett to kill him. He was curled up on the floor of the store in a foetal position. Louis would have laughed at such ludicrous overacting.
What there was was a ruthless crop of brand spokesvegetables – Colonel Corn. were a bit like piggy banks. The weekly Brand X-Factor review seemed like great fun. That investment kept on growing and growing and. No worries about market share falls or ad character Q scores. 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. She was very tempted. It might have been a reflex reflux reaction to imprisonment. No hard sell. As a consequence. Despite frequent attempts to measure their exact worth by accountants and their ilk. companionship and evening entertainment facilities were especially appealing. Bella well knew. The old reverse psychology manoeuvre. There was no perimeter fence. She was more concerned about getting out of Crocker’s concentration camp. No hassle. Crocker also kept supply and demand in a semblance of balance. Every brand icon. like Mr Kipling. Mr Soybean. Tom Tomato. Their insistence that she shouldn’t go to Crocker’s only made it more desirable. as Nipper made clear. Crocker’s camp. locked in the happy aspic of consumer memory. drowned their sorrows in convivial company. But. she was faced with the forbidding fruit that patrolled . the reality was that you could never invest too much in a brand. which marked the boundary of the accursed rest home. Far from being a place where superannuated brands. clearly. But Bella didn’t know the psychology of it. as per ACME’s edict. The food. extracted that gold then discarded the crock when the extraction process was complete. its equity was still there. By winnowing the ranks in a Darwinian manner. something strange was going on. Bella was kicking herself. much less the physiology. No hustle. There was no unscalable wall. part of the brand trafficking operation. All she did know was that she couldn’t smell anything. The forbidden fruit trick. with watchtowers and guards. The recreational facilities were wonderful. no matter how outmoded. Ireland’s own Mr Tayto. Bella could understand why any brand icon.Chapter Fifteen No Rest Home for the Wicked “What in the name of Jesus Jeans is that smell?” Orlov was gagging uncontrollably. neither electrified nor chain link. After a good night’s sleep and a belly-filling breakfast. no matter how venerable. not least an Olympic sized swimming pool. Brands. never mind a sickening stench. even when the brand disappeared from supermarket shelves. after decades of battling in a relentlessly brutal marketplace would want to settle for such a refuge. She wondered if Joe Camel and Mustapha Midden were in on it. a one bedroom duplex with all mod cons. since some creatures are sensitive to incarceration. where Charlie the Tuna was head coach and needed an assistant. The accommodation was superb. Bella could see the attraction of the place. was a crock of marketplace gold. She should have known better than to fall for the scuttlebutt in Bertie Bassett’s waterhole. it was a conduit that conveyed gullible brand icons into the conniving clutches of Crocker and Co. No soft soap.
” Bella said. “It’s a bit like a civet. “Look. The low-slung glass building was a skylight over a subterranean holding pen.” She let him splutter. He wasn’t laughing when they reached the leylandii stand. their . struggling to his feet. for one – but this was ridiculous. only with incense that’s gone off. Orlov looked up. The stench was stronger now. She half expected him to turn up any minute with raunchy dance partners in tow. He didn’t look up to the challenge. That’s where it’s coming from. he was beside her pointing out the error of her ways. then took in the nine-hole golf course. “Want me to check it out?” “I’m going with you. Doubtless Tiger. “Orlov insisted. The aroma. “What kind of animal is a cryclic?” Bella asked innocently. Even Bella could smell it. “I still can’t smell anything. He spluttered. behind a dense stand of leylandii. he pulled out a Lark and lit up.the perimeter. Maybe he fled Bertie’s with his dignity intact. He’d never been so insulted… Bella held up her flipper for silence and cradled her eyes while she peered inside. footloose and fancy free. Undeterred. The only sliver of silver she could see was that Louis was still out there. Bad as compare the market/meerkat morons were.” he added. isn’t it? A member of the meerkat family. “What does it smell of? Carrion? Camembert? Chanel Number Two?” Wiping his eyes with the back of his paw. low-rise glass building. Golden Bear and the Walrus were already in the clubhouse. only smarter. Bella told him so. She declined. if not quite akin to a constipated water buffalo after the Ex-Lax kicked in. Some chance. “Definitely acrylic. They wandered past the outdoor fitness suite. minging and malodorous. Pushing through the branches – albeit with difficulty. There was no escape. “Maybe it was something you ate. She was a penguin ignoramus. Still. was somewhere between niffy and noisome.” she said. It looked like the favourable outcome of a papal conclave. Tears were streaming down his peaky face. Orlov observed with a cynical laugh. She rubbed her eyes then looked again. retching in a revolting manner. Orlov thought for a second.” A thin wisp of white smoke rose from an aluminium chimney. It looked like a grace and favour greenhouse. all wearing oversized acrylic outfits. due to a big border of box – Bell and Orlov found themselves facing a long. patting him on the back. He coughed. just to see the look on his face. He couldn’t believe she couldn’t smell anything. By the time Bella had crept up to the plate glass walls. were shuffling along a steel-floored walkway. Bella knew that meerkats had some unsavoury habits – eating each other’s young. a penguinoramus. hoping it would take his mind off the vile smell. Orlov was doubled over. reaching for yet another nicotine flavoured air-freshener.” he said. “Burning acrylic. It worked. The smell was as nothing compared to the sight. “Acrylic. no less. He offered her one. It was worse than she thought. Bella was beyond belief.” Orlov gasped. Not wanting to attract undue attention. there’s a plume of smoke over there. where a buff Pillsbury Doughboy was leading Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley in a vigorous aerobics session. they strolled toward the screened smokestack in a roundabout manner. Hundreds of sports team mascots. where a Great White Shark was talking eagles and albatrosses to a bunch of rookies. where there’s Lynx there’s hope.
which fell away when full.” Bella whispered. Orlov had a soft spot for Chelsea’s blue-suited mascot. Stamford the Lion. “They certainly kept that quiet. its fleet footed feathered features familiar from countless petrol stations worldwide.” “Compared to the sharks in showbiz. the monkey mascot of Hartlepool United. Appalled. In the annals of advertising slogans.giant velveteen headpieces bobbing idiotically. who ran for mayor on a campaign promise of free bananas for local schoolchildren. they’re cuddly toys. which led onto a steel gantry above the holding pen.” “And I thought leopard seals were sons of bitches.” “Yes. Orlov pointed out the team totems he recognised: Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus. H’Angus and the rest went to meet their makers. As a Russian. as had Go-Go Hamsters. Gruesome as the big screen was. Pegasus swooped on stragglers and malingering mascots. quotas. Beanie Babies had been and gone. backbeating its wings while hovering in front of them. nor a rabid vegetable like Little Green Sprout. was extinct. Tellytubbies tie-ins had been done to a turn. “Have you ever mesmerised a mythical creature?” “No. the motto above the scoreboard plumbed the very depths of degradation: Pixar Rendering Plant – Jobs Brings Freedom. a brand abattoir. pampered. Pegasus immediately spotted the intruders and flew over. “I’d no idea Pixar actually used reconstituted animals to make Ratatouille. dropping the velveteen victims into the waiting incinerator. who looked more and more bear-like with every passing season. but I know that as a Greek God he shouldn’t be doing this. Bella held a candle for H’Angus. It was nothing less than an animal mascot slaughterhouse. sadly. The guard. neither feral dried fruit like the California Raisins. the purple dinosaur. 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.” Raging. He Gives a Monkey’s. overpaid – which was something to be grateful for. the questers considered their options. Desperate times require desperate measures. There was only one problem. nor were Alvin and the Chipmunks. And won the election by a landslide. kicking them toward a trapdoor contraption. Orlov barged through an adjacent access door.” There was no way they could stand by while Stamford. Norwich’s Captain Canary. “Beanz Meanz Heinz” and “Every Little Helps”. Barney. Even the Muppets had been rounded up and roasted.” At a loss.” Orlov said. Aberdeen’s Angus. Samson and Delilah. Bella. The guard was no ordinary guard. Burnley’s Bertie Bee. few can compare with “Vote for H’Angus. It was apocaplush. the indomitable brand insignia of Mobil Oil. Glasgow Rangers’ Broxi Bear. “I knew rendering was an integral part of computer aided animation. From its perch above the production line. though Monsters Inc should have given us a clue. a giant illuminated panel displaying real-time throughput ratios. nothing less than the furry solution. which includes such classics as “Just Do It”. Sunderland’s fabled black cats. It was about to launch into . Peppa the Pig was no more. They were mainly Premiership soccer critters – plush. It was Pegasus. targets similar work schedule metrics. As a democrat. Portsmouth’s Frogmore. let alone A Bug’s Life.
Poseidon. she does.” Pegasus whinnied. He told the mythical thoroughbred that it should be ashamed of itself.” The no-nonsense animal flapped its wings dismissively. an equine immortal who prostitutes itself for oil companies in return for a few stinking shekels and your face on a letterhead. She said she was gonna kick your bony ass the next time she sees you. the rest soon follow. Call her. I’m not proud. there’s only two of us. I’m the offspring of Medusa. Orlov. Just ask Tiger.” “Your wish is my command.” Pegasus paused and stared at the penguin suspiciously. A god’s gotta graft. Bella seized her chance.” “A blowhard who’s going to rip you apart with those big bad claws of hers. It’s the way of the world. “However. Otherwise you’ll be joining your furry friends in the fiery furnace.” “The Roc was always a bit of a blowhard. She says you’re a low-down yellow-bellied son of a bitch.” . “you shouldn’t be here”. We’ve still got a wish in hand. would be appalled by his offspring’s actions. I know all about your Russian brain-washing tactics. Oh. Does she still do that thing with the three wishes? Fools them every time. that consorting with unethical oil companies and sweatshop-dependent sneakers suppliers was no excuse for such unspeakable behaviour. 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. BTW. However. that its father. as you can see.” “Yes. remember. If so. Or checked me out on NagsReunited. Bella. preparing to shift from hover to swoop. “The Roc sends her regards. “So you’ve read my Wikipedia entry. The rest of my sponsors are chicken feed. Pegasus looked unimpressed.” Bella acknowledged. She says you’re a sell out. you’ll know that Mobil pretty much abandoned me after the merger with Exxon in 1999. Orlov. Orlov cut the creature off. “Oh yeah? We’ll see about that. She says you’re dead horsemeat. She’s full of it you know. and don’t look so surprised. don’t even think of giving me the evil eye.an “how dare you”. “I’m calling security” spiel. I dropped Bellerophon in it. the pair of us hooked up with her on the way here. Whatever. in case you’d forgotten. Hit the trail and keep your mouths shut. Once one sponsor departs. “Is that so?” “Yes. I’m not choosy.
Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .
The blanket was ripped from Louis’s prone body. I’m hoping it will . turning defence into attack. he wore a tight white T-shirt and an extravagantly bejewelled earring. An overpowering aroma indicated that someone was coming. Known to their enemies as “Proctoids”. It was Louis’s worst nightmare (apart from the one with the goat).” The cherub chuckled in that despicable hail-fellow American manner. Shaven-headed. “This is my esteemed colleague. he glanced up at the Proctoids. mean and muscular. P&G’s citadel in Cincinnati was widely considered impregnable. And that actual tethering was involved… Fortunately. The smell of Old Spice meant one thing – in addition to middle-aged taste bypass – and that thing was Procter & Gamble. You may have heard of us. by fair means or foul. At one stage. he picked himself up. His distended belly undulated with imitation mirth. She asked them to keep an eye on her biddable pal. A camel was outside. You may also have heard that we get what we want. He prayed that the consumptive camel pressed against the outside wall wouldn’t start coughing. The lynx’s moment of deliverance was short-lived. It meant that the most ruthless brand managers on the planet were in town. clambered onto the Pixar barrel and pressed his face against the prison bars. Stand back while Smokin Joe took the strain. Bella sent them.Chapter Sixteen Cincinnati Smackdown Groaning. their marketing methods made Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay look like Walt Disney World with waterboards. Hurriedly instructing his rescuers to hold fire. Get ready to run for it. The smell was so strong that he felt his head swim. Mr Clean. Naturally. The sight that greeted him was not simply surreal but sufficiently hallucinogenic to suggest that he’d hit the absinthe during the goatgrappling depravity. the chatterbox beetle explained.” he said. a chesty wheeze from the street outside.” Louis snarled. the celebrity camel with a yammering dung beetle on its back calling the shots. They had a rope. He could hear the door opening. and feared by every FMCG brand animal in existence. And squeezed. It was…it was…it was…Old Spice. The cry caught in his throat. The other was lean. “Let me guess. allegedly. It was a smell he recognised from way back when. “you’re Procter and you’re Gamble. They were going to pull the bars out. In Cin City. preparing to call for assistance. Intrigued. he was distracted by a cough. a celebrity camel. Louis drifted in and out of consciousness. Louis leapt into bed and covered his throbbing head with the horsehair blanket. One was a round-faced cherubic fellow with a handlebar moustache and greasy hair parted in the middle. P&G shakedown. Bleary-eyed. the fragrance Lynx users graduate to when they’re geriatric. It was nothing less than a good brand-bad brand. he had a vague sense that “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” was belted out during the previous evening’s escapades. “I’m Julius Pringles. A cold hand clasped Louis’s heart. no one could hear brands scream.
Louis’s reinterpretation had touched a nerve. The pounding was nothing compared to having his jaw prized open and a steady stream of water poured in. past the Noid who’d nodded off.” Pringles ordered. both literally and metaphorically.” “What is it you want to know?” Louis asked. Revealing trade secrets is more than my life is worth. However.” Clean shoved his conciliatory colleague aside. Holding the limp lynx in his humungous left hand. Under normal circumstances. Louis?” Playing for time. Our marketing strategy is sacrosanct. Instinctively. asswipe. Unilever had been battling P&G for decades and Louis wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Louis refused to divulge Unilever’s best kept brand . the one that controls cross-dressing. Ping. It contained a chair.be fair. began dragging him out of the cell. This was no ordinary water. especially for a brand with a raging hangover. the mixture played havoc with Louis’s gag reflex. Not so surprising. Clean hauled the wincing wildcat down the corridor. Pringles grimaced in a vain attempt to re-establish his good guy credentials.” the lynx sang tunelessly. “You know I can’t tell you that. “I’ll show you what your life’s worth. regardless of product category or sales territory? What’s your secret. moreover. throwing the enforcer’s facile jingle back in his face. the lynx sank his claws into the hardwood floor but the ensuing pain was so acute that retraction was the better part of valour. the lynx spat a mouthful of blood onto the dusty floor and checked his wobbly incisors. With a bestial bellow. Ping. with a butt-ripping jerk. giving his victim a chance to spit it out. Stoically. Mr Clean will clean your house. Pantene Pro-V enriched. he pulled the berserk brand icon off the bruised and battered feline. Without pausing for breath. The persecutor paused. his ears pricking up at the sound of Clean’s forename. While wearing a girlie pantsuit. Pringles struggled to calm his colleague down. “And grease in just a minute. “Mr Clean gets rid of dirt and grime. a board. Ping. Pringles?” American corporate life isn’t renowned for its sense of humour and so it proved on this occasion. “Take it easy. he started pulling out Louis’s whiskers with his right. “Why is Unilever beating us in head to head contests. Veritably. through the swing doors into a makeshift torture chamber. come to think of it. hauled him out of bed and began shaking him vigorously. Clearly. He felt like he was drowning in bubble bath. It was P&G water. Sorry. a rack-like device and a selection of sharp instruments in a bracket by the wall.” He took hold of Louis’s tail and. Louis felt the blood rush to his already pounding head. Surprisingly feminine forename.” Clean went crazy. a bucket. Julius. and once he gets a bit angry he stays a bit angry. Ping.” “Once he pops he can’t stop. the pain would have been intolerable. With enormous effort. Clean grabbed Louis by the scruff of the neck. Clean strapped Unilever’s brand emissary to the rough wooden board and propped it up at an angle. Is that what you’re saying. “Let’s find out what he knows first. but if that’s not possible then Mr Clean here can get a bit angry. He kicked and punched and pummelled the irreverent wildcat. pushing his psychotic partner into the corner. One-handedly.
“I could do with a shave. they weren’t of Playboy Bunnies or Puffin Books. fraught though they had been. Make it easy on yourself. eyes glinting. it was costing him a small fortune. He thought of Bella’s reaction to the Murder a McFlurry line.” Muscles bulging. Howling with fury. though. Cursing and swearing. he lost a few large tufts round the jowls and the tugging was extremely unpleasant. Nevertheless the net effect of Clean’s energetic action was nil. Rrrrrrr. I’m feeling a little bit bristly. “Tell us what we want to know. Masochistically shaving against the grain. It’s the best a brand can get. he thought of a chatterbox beetle and knackered camel who’d be mounting a bold rescue bid sometime soon. “I’ll give you goddamn brand stretch. “Helps keep a cat’s pelt shiny. Pringles intervened before things got out of hand. especially for so little reward. He had overlooked one crucially important item. spittle spraying onto the face of his spread-eagled victim. which creaked and groaned from want of use. “It’s a Gillette Fusion razor blade.” “Glad to hear it. “Nice lather. Strangely.” Louis retorted. Even at wholesale prices. He released Louis from the waterboard and physically hurled him onto the rack-like mechanism. Quickly and efficiently. pate glistening. Not as helpful as Sunsilk. He thought of Orlov’s face when he produced the iPaw. as he got set to let rip on Louis’s furry face. Clean went through his entire stock of replacement cartridges.” he spluttered. Louis was happy to let Clean exhaust himself. he slowly turned the great wooden handles. “Recognise this?” he raged. “Five precision blades. The time for good brand-bad brand tactics was over. fully re-hydrated after his unanticipated encounter with an experimental energy drink.” Admirable though it was. Veritably Clean reached for his array of sharp instruments. “You’ve heard of brand stretch. Yes. But he had miscalculated.” the crazed Proctoid crowed. They were of the friendships he’d forged during the past few days. which couldn’t cope with the stress and strain. The brand spokespsycho had removed the lubrication strip. Louis. Mostly.secrets.” “Correct. They’re about to abandon your brand name. in the wan glow of an eco-friendly light bulb. he tied Louis down. Wouldn’t they? . He thought pleasant thoughts to counteract the cruelty. Louis was looking at five fearsome slivers of finely-honed steel and facing razor burn beyond his worst imaginings. His training kicked in. Clean hurled his useless blade holder against the wall. Pringles didn’t even try to restrain his colleague. perfectly angled for the smoothest shave in history. the lynx’s bravado was unwise. The ladies like it that way.” The lynx knew he was right but refused to spill the beans.” Clean crowed. It’s common knowledge. a cruel modification to Clean’s five-blade cleaver.” Understandably infuriated by the brazen mention of a rival brand. You don’t owe Unilever anything. No amount of aftershave balm could assuage the pain that was about to be visited upon him. Placing a restraining hand upon the knotted bicep of his psychotic partner. though. The lynx’s winter pelt clogged up the blades. one paw in each corner of the instrument of torture. Clean started work with slash and burn relish. The one without the battery. he asked Louis to reconsider.
But securely bound and helplessly splayed. “What’s a swiffer?” The Proctoids cackled. “It’s a revolutionary way of picking up household dust and dirt.” “Cool. Any customer can be a leader in any given situation. By blindly following Gladwell. “Kill him. P&G were throwing precious resources into a marketing money pit. “You learn something new every day. the hive mind and how Malcolm Gladwell. got it completely wrong with his Law of the Few. Hence the difference in headto-head brand performance.” . they tell me. “It doubles as a tickling stick. “We blindsided you with that one. gibbering wreck in no time. for starters – so there wasn’t much additional damage he could do.Clean was getting nowhere fast. lynx? You look like the ticklish type. The Lynx brand had been stretched to breaking point in the past – hairdressing salons and male beauty parlours. patting his hands as if to remove superfluous dust particles. Clean. as Clean cranked the rack handle to its maximum extent.” Louis gasped. Are you ticklish. “Well. He really did. His influential idea that key “connectors” disseminate brand information and that consumer swarms duly follow the leader was mistaken. Cats love a tickle. I never knew that. It followed that mass advertising to the entire swarm was more effective than trying to target influential individuals in the American manner. he was a giggling. Recent European research revealed that leaders were invisible. He spilled his guts about swarm intelligence. fastidiously adjusting his drooping moustache. “Try the swiffer. electrostatically. the American management guru. It was time for a change in tactics.” Pringles said. “The swiffer?” Louis echoed.” Pringles suggested. though.” He smiled graciously at the prisoner. then turned to go. He fought against the relentless funny bone assault.” Louis tried to resist.” Pringles said.
just perfect for recessionary times. with Joe Camel by his side and Mustapha Midden in tow. All those raging hormones had clouded his judgment. then high-tailed it out of Mirage. Qualitywise. Mustapha?” Bella wondered. Not long after liftoff. Louis sheepishly admitted that his loins had got the better of him. they spotted him hiking across the desert in the general direction of Betty Crocker’s. The reason rather was that. bluffed the brusque beast and. Far from leading Louis to his doom. which was unlikely to recover from rendition plant revelations. taken care of nasty Julius Pringles and very nasty Veritably Clean. It wasn’t that he was weak or worried about his squeaky-clean image. as gods go. They had raised the stakes. He was capitalism in microcosm. Bella and Orlov weren’t interested in excuses. “It’s nothing. Joe raised a weary eyebrow. But Joe had an appointment with his veterinarian. your products are right up there with Silo & Roy. Pretending that they hadn’t noticed the state of his kisser – though both had heard scandalous stories about promiscuous Puffin Books – Bella and Orlov forgave him. He was on a rescue mission. He couldn’t help it. Second. He’d stick to cold shower gel in future. First. His brand had been targeting teenage boys for years. release the furry football prisoners. “Probably a slight touch of Angina. They’d broken into his cell in the nick of time. That little brand of yours has potential. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. keen to do good. We can talk to ACME.” Unconvinced. Your prices are competitive. ethical. information on the exact whereabouts of Mr Kipling and a lift to his lair. He owed them three wishes. Their mass bid for freedom would not only occupy the guards but cause sufficient mayhem to cover their own escape. succumbed to temptation and did whatever he had to do to get a gig. but wish three was unnecessary. They weren’t part of the plot. even though that soul had been corrupted in the process. make the sale. After greeting Bella and Orlov with much back-slapping and hand-shaking.” “What about you. Mustapha and Joe had helped him escape.” . He was constantly short of breath and losing weight off his hump. “Want to join us? We could do with a negotiator like you. Louis had already departed Bassett’s bordello. when the chips were down. Pegasus was basically kind. They were part of the plot against the plot. A day or two’s rest should do the trick. Third. keep body and soul together. which was worrying for a working dromedary.” Orlov lied authoritatively. “But see your vet anyway.Chapter Seventeen I Heart Darkness Pegasus cracked. move the merchandise. They also asked Mustapha and Joe to join the great brand quest. cut corners. watched him wimp out like the flying chicken he was. But he’d been so brutalised by unrelenting competition in a declining market – the bloody flux of post-crunch capitalism – that he’d compromised. a pit stop at Bertie Bassett’s to extract Louis the lusty lynx from the caravanserai of carnality. Pegasus agreed to wishes one and two. Reluctantly.
With no realistic alternative. one step above slugs and snails. Nobody loves us. A not-so-vast tramp steamer sat idly at the ramshackle quay. “Hold tight. the Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart of Bella’s brand band. he’d learned something from the Roc. he insisted on renegotiating his fare. “This is as far as I go.” Aleksandr Orlov and Louis Lynx. Although Bella didn’t like heights.com basin.” the flying horse finally announced. half as old as time. irrigated patches of intensive cultivation. And. Pegasus didn’t pause. How dare he drop them . Not as beautiful as the jungle. through the wispy white clouds into the lightest of breezes. Name a single brand based on a beetle or any other insect?” “Well. The land below was changing from desert to scrub to savannah to ever-thicker equatorial vegetation. there might be one or two. The cloud cover gradually thickened as well. there’s the Volkswagen Beetle for a start. the threesome took off. There’s Caterpillar. Forthright as ever. A flurry of feathery flutters later. beautiful in their Blu-ray plumage and iridescent jewel cases. “The objective you seek is upstream. Bella. closely-packed settlements. soaring up and away. “specially designed for young children. controlling the turbulence with his wing tips. with a slight cough of embarrassment.” Louis chipped in. I’m in the dingleberry business. As far as most people are concerned. the brand band agreed. Flashes of lightning. Banks of cumulonimbus rose menacingly on either side. herds of wild horses. they came to rest beside a small jetty. claps of thunder and dark curtains of driving rain greeted them as they soared over a mountainous watershed into the Amazon. Decrepit. though. yet beautiful. He’d take them as far as he could. snaking camel trains. dusty brown but infinitely variegated. He fast forwarded ever further into the deep dark heart of Jungle Zone.” He circled and banked and glided. But dung beetles are persona non grata. gradually descending through the clammy clouds. It was forbidding. That vessel will take you there. but no further.“I’m a dung beetle. A vast river. dotted with iridescent oases. Mustapha Midden isn’t exactly A Bathing Ape. There’s…” “Ladybird Books. now that an additional passenger was on board and he’d made an unforeseen stop. There were almost as many CDs and DVDs. as brand names go. laid into the winged god. Millions of books far beneath them flapped and fluttered like butterflies in the wilderness. There’s …” “Firefly mobile phones. The beetle had a business to run. stark plateaus of bright red sandstone. Desert Quarter looked incredible from above. sludgy and sluggish. okay. “What’s this?” Bella asked.” Pegasus snorted. it looked like a long abandoned prop from The African Queen.” Orlov added. her qualms were quashed by the spectacle altitude afforded. the earth moving equipment and yellow apparel people. and criss-crossed by zigzagging ravines that plunged precipitously into Stygian darkness. Evidently. Blowing affectionate air kisses at Mustapha and Joe. There’s the Raid Bugs.” There was no persuading him. “we’re coming in to land. Pegasus was getting frisky too. rolled before them. “Okay.
landlubbers. X-series sports cars. KFC. It’s the k-sound. “P’s a pretty powerful plosive. a fifth generation chocolate bar that ceased advertising decades ago. was in a similar linguistic fix to himself.” Louis said nothing. Earnestly. “Compare the market. Germany and most European markets but my real name is Birdseye.” They leapt onto the decrepit wooden craft. plosives. snapped open its wings. 4X beer.miles from nowhere? Who does he think he is. you see. which creaked ominously underfoot and paw. Krispy Kreme. You’re not proper brand icons anyway. You don’t belong in BrandLand. “The B-sound’s effective too. up and away. K-X soda. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.” “Correct. Michael O’Leary? What kind of customer service do you call this? Unmoved. A grey-bearded. “I’m called Iglo in France. X-Box. aspirates. They use my proper name in Britain.” “Captain Birdseye. but as long as they keep the Captain part. I presume. “I can see into the future. touching the peak of his cap in an amicable manner. Coca-Cola. took off with a kick of its hind legs and soared up. X-tra strong mints. the surly beast of burden stared crossly at his disgruntled passengers.” Bella ventured. Louis the Lynx made a heartfelt case for the letter X.” Feeling a little left out. I don’t particularly mind. energy: X-Factor. Campbell’s Soup. “I guess we better get going then. Calvin Klein.” With that. diphthongs and other linguistic treasures. Bella explained what they wanted and who they were looking for. apparently. 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. an adolescent deodorant without an actual brand character and only an animal name to its name. arms outstretched in a welcoming pose.” Captain Birdseye laughed and reciprocated.” Orlov contributed. Kit-Kat. I can tell you won’t get to the final chapter of this story.” the captain conceded. “Have a nice day. The old salt nodded sagely. modestly. with its connotations of edginess. A flash in the pan website. Hence Kodak. but were fascinated to hear the ancient marketing mariner’s exposition on phonics. Research showed that k-sounds were king when it came to selling. What can I do you for?” Bella looked round. Welcome on board. “I intend to. “Captain Iglo. Birdseye showed them around.” Louis shouted at the disappearing steed. “that Axe deodorant’s doing well in France and Germany and even in the United States of Advertising. open-faced figure.” a cordial voice chortled. though he couldn’t help but notice that Captain Birdseye. There wasn’t much to see: a . excitement. “Welcome to the jungle. You’re no loss. P-P-P-Penguin. “Yes. brothers and sister. You’re a joke.” They didn’t know how it was. Pegasus whinnied disdainfully. with a wary look in his eye and a heard it all before expression on his weather-beaten face. stood at the prow of the tiny tramp steamer.” he corrected. aka Iglo. You know how it is. wearing a dark blue naval uniform and an officer’s peaked cap. sibilants. “Betty Crocker.
at the Rainforest Café syrup works. stained with jolly jack tar. it was a plausible brand yarn and. a gimcrack forecastle. every air miles offer. Classic and Zero. Captain Birdseye cast off. “I’ve been plying this river for fifty years. However. “As in the cola?” The captain nodded. And was wearing it under his uniform. “Taste it. with a smile that suggested he’d been asked that question on countless occasions and knew exactly where the conversation was going. a rusty smokestack and a pensionable engine that ran on Diesel jeans. “You’re heading for the treasure I suppose. The current was strong but The Diary Queen was stronger. The Classic’s swallow holes have to be seen to be believed. As shipshape as they’d ever be. done that. the passengers resigned themselves to the pedestrian pace of the meandering mode of transportation. Birdseye broke out a whiskery grin. “There are three tributaries. who were staring idly at the passing rivertine scene. The wellsprings are about fifteen miles up ahead.compact cabin. With a barf and a bellow.” He handed her an old pewter cup. “The Cokenoco. as he nudged the wheel this way and that. The rapids on Zero are almost impassable. “What’s the name of this river?” Bella asked the master and commander.” “Right.” “I think it’s exhaustion. the whiffy steamship chugged and chuntered to the centre of the waterway. where’s this treasure?” The captain cleared his throat in a way that spoke volumes. after a few wide bends of the slow rolling river. every free gift scheme. lost in their own thoughts. The jetty was soon behind them and. It was a bit brackish but definitely Diet Coke. every loyalty . After the requisite toot of the whistle. It’s pretty inhospitable country. Bella. since beverage brand claims are notoriously exaggerated. He’d been there. by others. she dipped the dirty cup into the lazy current. not to say faintly ludicrous. Diet. “The ACME Horde. every lucky winner draw.” He nodded. “So. Every sales promotion. albeit steady as she goes. The Trove of Death. Sceptical yet intrigued. “Your furry friends have got fortune hunter written all over them. the Pepsipopo River’s on the other side of that mountain range. “Before you ask.” she said. Captain.” He nodded toward a cloud-shrouded escarpment in the distance.” Bella didn’t quite believe him. Just. bought the T-shirt. Diet’s the least turbulent. The 7-Upstream’s a couple of carbonated watersheds away. We’ve been on a long journey. Progress was slow.” “I wasn’t going to ask. as if unconvinced by her reply. with forty years of sales pitching behind him. it’s called by some. Captain Birdseye was pretty persuasive. “I’ll take your word for it.” He gestured towards Orlov and Louis. “It’s filtered and concentrated about five miles downstream from here.” Birdseye replied. steering a route of least resistance.” “Treasure? What treasure?” He sucked on his teeth then shrugged.” Eyes twinkling. I know treasure seekers when I see them. it shouldered its way upstream.
card. win a house. Anything unclaimed at the end reverts automatically to ACME. win a million.” . ACME endorses the competition and monitors its impartiality. privilege card redeemable premium. In return for a fee. And it’s buried in them thar hills. complete the sentence. reward or guarantee. win a holiday. win a lifetime supply of Pot Noodles incentive from time immemorial has been registered with ACME. According to old wives’ tales. that is. every money off voucher. win a car. who sells it on. The accumulated trove is way beyond any brand’s wildest imaginings. every collect the tokens. scratch card.
Screeches.” Orlov murmured. in a foot race. yammering at top speed.” he said. He manoeuvred the vessel into a little inlet and switched off the spluttering engine. screaming the praises of P. Bella grasped a bulwark tightly. I promised him a year’s supply of Midshipman Musk. The horror. a head to head against the Puma puma would only end one way. as Bella. Every so often. pointing toward a twisty path through the fern-filled undergrowth. It was humid. Guinness is good for you”.” the lynx intervened.G. they forged forcefully ahead. Penguins weren’t the fastest runners on the planet and. The path was narrow but passable. “I got it covered. It was as hushed as a heavy metal band playing “Number of the Beast”. “You can’t miss it. The noise was deafening. It’s big in Brazil. a primal roar cut through the jangle of jingles. “I’ll wait for you. He can always swab the decks with the stuff.” “Something tells me he’s not expecting us to return. She didn’t want to know.” Orlov winked at Bella. Niacin. Bella couldn’t tell if it was the Airness cougar. “Instinct?” Bella asked. the Exxon tiger. “Intuition.” she observed.” “I’ll say. A great crepuscular cocoon of evergreen foliage enclosed them like an equatorial Iron Maiden. slogans. “The horror. guys. the Slazenger panther or an unholy combination of them all. to everyone’s relief.Chapter Eighteen Tony. Riboflavin. as the going got increasingly rutted. only to be outshouted by a company of cheeky chimpanzees in overalls and bowler hats. the MGM lion.” Grinning despite herself. It’s one of our special editions. It was hot. or had been fairly recently. “Calcium. the bank-side vegetation grew denser and denser and ever more claustrophobic. As The Diary Queen laboured upstream against the colacurrent. howls and yelps emanated from the undergrowth in an ear-splitting cacophony of advertising claims. shoving aside the creepers and climbers. Bella pushed through the riverine mangroves and lichen-covered kapok trees. Louis and Orlov disembarked. as The Diary Queen sloughed on. “No added sugar. stretching and yawning and rubbing life into their cramped limbs. “Must be a nightmare after a storm.” the old boatman added.” it parroted. Guinness is good for you.” A troop of Coco-Pops monkeys joined in the Kellogg’s chorus. Tips. It was twilight by the time Birdseye called a halt. Her companions didn’t disagree. foot and paw prints indicated that it was a heavily trafficked route. Nothing but the best in Kellogg’s Fruit Loops. Did you notice that he didn’t ask for payment?” “Perhaps he’s being paid by someone else. 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. catchphrases and suchlike. straplines. A bright-beaked toucan flapped past crying “Guinness is good for you. if a trifle slippery.” “It’s okay. Another even brighter toucan sat on a Yungkan branch. A trail of hoof. The throbbing ceased. Tony. . “It’s that way. Burning Bright The jungle closed in. However.
the high priest of high fashion. till receipts beyond number – filled a vast pit in the middle of the clearing. brandishing a burning brand. Boom. Bella burst out laughing. Bape plunged the torch into the pyre. was scattered around the periphery.” “Then what?” Louis grumbled. Suddenly. Boom-boom. With a blood-curdling yell. In front of it stood A Bathing Ape. as well they might. which anticipates the second coming of Christ the Redeemer at the end of time. It was a devout demonstration of marketing Darwinianism. cut cases. A second drummer joined in. Chuckling. An enraptured gathering of wild beast brands. If ACME’s behind this.” Bella hissed. the poisonous snake was no match for the fast-moving woodpecker. Boom. if not quite unbearable.listening intently from time to time. Emboldened. decidedly unpleasant.” Orlov whispered. pausing occasionally to admire the Bovis hummingbirds dipping their bills into exquisite orchids and aromatic cinchona shrubs. found themselves staring into a natural amphitheatre. This was no ordinary ceremony. terrifying as its hooded features appeared. then a third. Boom-boom. ranging from the fashionable Ecko rhino and the Onitsuka sneakers tiger to the rampant Peugeot lion and the elegant Cartier leopard. An enormous pyre of promotional material – flyers. embarrassed by their cowardice in the face of Phil Collins. however. as the ceremony proper commenced. “Looks like a bog-standard brandfire to me. dump bins.” “Ssssshhhhh. Orlov and Louis looked worried. Boom. Mr Kipling might make an appearance. it didn’t last long. A great shout of glee rose up . Boom. shelf-talkers. big brand in west Africa. “It’s obviously a marketing version of the Christian festival. understandably irritated by Orlov’s exhibition of erudition at such an inappropriate moment. The din was coming from a clearing up ahead. It was the Cadbury’s gorilla tune. Fast as the cobra was. they inched forward and. A sheet of flame shot into the night sky as a great roar erupted from the mammalian multitude. Boom. must have carried for many. “Ssssssshhhhhh.” Louis was less than impressed. many miles. Orlov and Louis exchanged silly-me glances. The drumming stopped. minus the vocal accompaniment. “Let’s just watch and wait. posters. Unfortunately. an ensemble rendition of “In the Air Tonight”. coupons.” The crowd pushed back to the edge of the grassy bowl. “Advent. Bella was wiping the sweat from her brow when the drumming started. It was nothing less than a battle of the brands! The first brand bout was between Cobra beer and Woodpecker cider. Boom. a big. Its razor-sharp bill and speed-of-light head action decapitated the venomous serpent before it had a chance to strike. The jungle was reverberating to the thunder of asynchronous drumbeats. though they weren’t the centre of attention. easing a succulent aside. The clammy heat was. the pounding percussion patterns converged and coalesced. Boom-boom. The trumpeting of Elephant washing powder. The crowd held its breath. The drumming gorillas sat on individual risers.
The response was lukewarm. as the onlookers went ape. Then another brand character contest kicked off. because a lot of money had been lost. Luckily. as a groan escaped from the majority. His exhibition was more rope-a-dope than Marquis of Queensbury. when Quantas’ jagged claws pierced its paunchy abdomen. The gorillas segued into “We Will Rock You” rhythm. meanwhile. the corpse of the cobra was removed from the ring. the cruiserweight climax of the card.from one group of onlookers. Booing derisively. Orlov argued that it was Adtonement. Howling with bestial abandon. however. This also ended on a disappointing note. all the while gyrating like her life depended on it. she encouraged the crowd to join in. exposing the firm white flesh beneath. the Kangol and Quantas kangaroos versus the WWF panda and the Coca-Cola polar bear. Clearly. As Mr Peanut RIP was carried off the battlefield with efficient dispatch. a sure-fire indicator that sizeable sums had been lost on the contest. those whose side-bets were misplaced. Mr Peanut didn’t look like a fighter. with fighting as part of the fun. he ducked and weaved and bobbed and milked the crowd by checking his fob. since the panda was a pacifist by nature and the polar bear was too kind-hearted to deliver killer blows. slowly. The first combatant strode in imperiously. belly dancing. The high-kicking kangaroos ripped them apart. Tony the Tiger was wearing an ankle-length dressing gown. shaking her slinky hips and wiggling her shapely booty. “Chiquita bananas taste the best/And are the best for you”. Louis reckoned it was a fertility festival akin to Mardi Gras or Rio carnival. she started dancing. In his top hat and monocle. her opponent was ripe for a karate chop to the throat. seductively. Mr Peanut on one side Ms Chiquita Banana on the other. the Boudica of branding burst into her muchloved jingle. removed his monocle and. Mr Peanut. a quick kick in the knackers and ruthless application of the infamous Fyffes death grip. much less a sucker-punching southpaw. pretending it had steamed up. proceeded to polish the eyepiece ostentatiously. with a sickening sound of escaping gas. the crowd parted on either side of the rough and ready arena. The panda tried to surrender but got no mercy from Kangol. the rowdy crowd was getting restless. Without further ado. had no answer when Miss Banana played her ace. Ingeniously. The drums started up again. But with decades of experience and not a little guile. all shimmering silk and sparkling sequins. 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. Bella asked her companions for an explanation. She started peeling off her skin. Miss Banana. the main event. Intoxicated on the heady scent of victory. the next brando-a-brando match-up was set to be a ripsnorter. to the crowd’s delight and a fresh round of frantic betting. a 48sheet poster of living breathing flame. Transfixed. Aghast at the brand butchery. The polar bear burst asunder. Peanut paused. Which of course it did. It was a potentially attractive tag wrestling encounter. circled slowly searching for an opening. Bella concluded that Louis was right. The great fire was reaching its apotheosis. As Mr Peanut breathed his last. the third bout’s combatants were more evenly matched. They couldn’t remove Peanut’s body quickly enough. His followers showered him with confetti- .
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
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. rather than pursuing ephemeral marketing fads. and whisked him off to meet his doom. which is the animal equivalent of a high five. Ben explained that time runs differently for brand managers and brand consumers. after asking what was biting. Brands should run on consumer time rather than corporate time. He’d been there. Neither overextended nor underadvertised. Uncle Ben was an authentic brand icon. exchanged greetings and. the good news was that Orlov was none the worse for his collision. of conviction. Bella didn’t know what he was talking about. shallows. rising to the surface for flies before disappearing into the depths. brightly coloured with cheap plastic scales. . Signs of hunter-gatherer agriculture were everywhere apparent. not least when a tribe of pygmies assembled by the bank and stared at the passing craft in silence. A more congenial encounter occurred in the early afternoon. The lynx laughed it off. which was a first for Mustapha.form of sandbanks. brand. of continuing with the same basic proposition. Birdseye reckoned they were the Gold Dust boys. which slid off the muddy banks with mastication in mind. If the dawn was dank and the going increasingly difficult. Managers insist on refreshing the brand when consumers are still invigorated. The former get fed up with catchphrases and campaigns long before the latter do. Mustapha felt he’d finally found a role model. He launched into the harrowing story of his return to Flea-Bay Bazaar. The captain said they were Crocs. Uncle Ben was a paradigm of consistency. whirlpools. apropos of nothing. He apologised to Louis for his high-handed behaviour hitherto. when Uncle Ben was spotted fly-fishing in a secluded pool. top-hatted and smirking. it knocked some sense into and condescension out of him. But anything that doesn’t kill you… They listened in silence. slow parenting and so on. similar to slow food. They stopped. The river got narrower and narrower. rapids. But not right away. He was a Mars Inc. A strange strain of fish. He’d suffered the slings and arrows too. adding that the meerkat would have gone back for him had he banged his head on a branch. a once-famous make of soap powder whose scrubs-anything-clean claim was deemed so grotesquely racist that it damaged the brand irreparably. shook him down. since they are exposed to them more frequently. Simonez turtles popped up from time to time. Uncle Ben felt the dung beetle’s pain. eddies. also appeared in overwhelming numbers. as The Diary Queen struggled upstream. Understandably. If anything. Bella wasn’t so sure. Stereotyping and racial insensitivity notwithstanding. Izod and analogous alligators. But she said nothing. slow travel. 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. Aleksandr was in awe of the master. plus a veritable plague of Lacoste. the jungle less and less dense. as did the rather less welcome Hot Tuna barracuda. He added. He knew what P&G were capable of. CEOs need to chill a little. He was thinking of starting a slow brands movement. then asked why some brands endure and others don’t. where P&G’s goon squad picked him up. as her brain and brawn bonded with a high fore. chewed the fat about brand longevity.
The overweight icon said nothing. like little boys playing truant. “They’re all at it nowadays. “It’s the Pillsbury Doughboy. bigger than the Marlboro Man.” “Photoshop. There was no hard evidence to support the hypothesis. no. they spotted Strider. He looked in pretty good shape. “I’ve seen his photos in the ads. there was a growing sense that ACME lay ahead of them. “It’s Bibendum!” Mustapha was none the wiser. “Jeez. Louis and Orlov fell about. A cawing convocation of eagles – American Airlines. He’s a slim athletic guy with good muscle definition. in an awestruck voice. not liking where conversation was going given her own ample avoirdupois. The bloated hulk wasn’t so much Jabba the Hutt as Pizza the Hut.As the brand band slid upstream. “We saw the doughboy at Betty Crocker’s.” Orlov quipped. don’t forget. The oddest sight of all greeted them several oxbows beyond. That kind of gourmandising takes its toll.” “He’s big. he’s really let himself go. held her steady in the centre of the stream.” “Those Ronald McDonalds could’ve done with a touch of the airbrush. “They were airbrushed. He doles out the awards. That’s definitely not Doughboy. No sweat. There were no signposts to speak of. a gigantic glistening figure sat silently. more like. Not far ahead of them. Bella asked Birdseye to stop the boat. you can airbrush a pig’s ear into an A-lister. all right. allowing for the onrushing current. Look at the size of…” “It can’t be Bibendum. asking after his welfare. either. The remains of a massive . The Axeman’s an ugly sonofa. the Johnnie Walker whisky character. wondering if they could do anything for him. where 99% of global germs were known to accumulate (and must be eradicated on principle).” “Heaven help us. a superhuman snowman. even though he knew he shouldn’t.” Bella contradicted. But with Snow Leopard software and an Apple Mac. Mustapha looked confused. There were only sights that got stranger and stranger and thus suggestive of an impending epiphany. At the end of an eyot in the centre of the stream. She shouted up at the gone-to-seed gourmand.” Louis said. He’s a touch steroidal maybe but not a big bloated blob. At a bend in the river. deep in conversation about a possible joint venture.” Bella snapped. Orlov laughed at his boon companion’s cruel joke. Smirnoff Vodka and Eagle Star Insurance among others – swept down on the unsuspecting ducks. though not inaccurately. Arguably the world’s foremost advertising icon. More astonishing still was the flock of Toilet Ducks that flew in formation overhead.” Louis continued. He throttled back and.” Louis sighed. “With a flame thrower!” Understandably.” Mustapha said. dripping their bleachy balm on the razed rainforest beneath. Barclays Bank. strolling armin-arm with the Beefeater Gin guardsman. “Who ate all the tyres?” Louis added unkindly. “Who?” “Bibendum.” “No.” Orlov gasped. “Five star restaurants. who scattered with much screeching of slogans and honking of BOGOFs. It looked like an enormous alabaster statue. right in front of the distended inner tube. The Michelin Man. run a few errands. the marketing equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. believe me.
high times and incipient arteriosclerosis. White to start. Before long. Red thereafter. 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. .” Orlov said. as did the bones of an entire Red Lobster restaurant. hissing like a deflating cross-ply.” But it wasn’t. The blob nodded imperceptibly and signalled over his shoulder with a swollen thumb. “I think it’s a statue.vampire squid lay on the ground beside him. A huge sigh escaped from the pneumatic brand personality. Smiling appreciatively. but he still said nothing. the mist descended. ravaged by fine wines. A tear rolled down its undulating cheek. they waved goodbye to the overstuffed superstar and set sail once more. The blimp burped instead. His bloodshot and liverish eyes took in the questing voyagers. “It isn’t alive.
As The Dairy Queen crawled ever-sourcewards. when the advertising universe is in turmoil and it’s every brand spokesdroid for itself. She had other things to attend to. There was Buzz bloody Lightyear. Orlov?” Bella called. Taking command once more. desperately trying to recall alien advertising characters. There was that Captain Ric character who sported a Kellogg’s Ricicles space suit. as a disco ball of swirling light danced and cavorted dead ahead. “But in this day and age. who knows their otherworldly intentions?” Fearing a War of the Brands scenario. But Bella wasn’t listening. “Area 51. pulsing intermittently. Bella stood in the forecastle. gripping it for grim death with all six legs. with an oscillating thrum and a crackle. Birdseye was all for calling a halt but Bella urged him on. Brand abduction. crossing himself obsessively and mumbling about brand retribution. She couldn’t think of any more. the propeller-headed breakfast cereal pitchcreature. There were those for-mash-get-Smash aliens. Another loud hum struck up to port. the fog thickened steadily from tendrils through curtains to duvets then snowdrifts. right? Since the 1950s. gradually increased in intensity then rose and fell rapidly.” More in hope than expectation. who’s sold sufficient tie-in merchandise to stretch from here to infinity and beyond. smell it. anxiety etched on his aristocratic features. Her brain had gone numb.” A whooshing sound passed overhead at extremely high velocity. like an air raid siren. Bella ran frantically through her memory banks. tiny wisps of condensation along the banks and among the bushes. Maybe a tractor beam had got her already. She could sense it. There was Google’s Android software icon. “Advertisers have been using extraterrestrials for years.” he shouted. such as it was. “Maybe back in the good old days. Mustapha Midden found himself behind the steering wheel. Close encounters. with Disney death rays and Pixar proton torpedoes. No good will come of this. There was Quisp. Little green men. sometimes to port. while Birdseye cowered in the cabin. The fug literally vibrated at one point. Strobe lights flashed and flickered. at least. Maybe it was Birdseye’s jabbering and . sometimes to starboard. she posted Orlov and Louis in the prow. where their extra-sharp eyesight might come in handy. A humming sound started up to starboard. They moved around above them. There were those wassup spouting extra-terrestrials in the spoof Budweiser ads. who cackled at earthlings’ attempts to peel potatoes. which looked like CP3O’s studious kid sister. It came so close – inches rather than yards – that Mustapha ducked down instinctively. There’s nothing to worry about. “We’re entering Aliens country. he gurned from time to time. Bella bellowed back. “What do you reckon. touch it. sometimes arcing across the sky. ACME was within her grasp.Chapter Twenty All Your Brands Are Belong to Us The mist was thin at first. practically. UFOs.” Orlov yelled over the ear-throbbing pulse. their intensity softened through the gaseous gauze. It sounded similar to an angry wasp in a bottle.
presumably to another planet. bubbling and fizzing. Bella’s band were close. they found themselves on a bare limestone plateau.” With a natural nautical flair. At the side of the falls. Bella helped Mustapha as he scrambled and scuttled. The previously placid surface of the Cokenoco’s upper reaches bobbled and bounced beneath the boat. The epitome. like an outpouring from an immense glass bottle. flitting ahead of the astonished posse. Bella licked the side of her beak.” Orlov did the needful. they mounted purposefully.” Louis didn’t disagree. bramble . He’s done his duty by us. Smirking despite their perilous situation. broke out his wings and took flight. flight by flight. “Shut him up. An intense stare. Spectral silence reigned. sucking his thumb. the foursome emerged into bright sunshine. “This is where we get off. Ho. It got louder and louder. rather. as a wall of fizzy water. The clammy mist gradually thinned as they climbed. bracken patches. Louis reached out a gimme-one paw. let her go.” Bella hissed. cut into the living rock. The only thing missing was a pre-recorded Ho. Extensions aren’t a good idea by and large.” she called. They stepped on to land that would have been dry if it weren’t for the cascade’s collateral spray. the meerkat resumed his position in the prow. though her voice was almost drowned in the thundering cacophony. it was definitely the colossus of brands. even. The lull didn’t last. “This is Fanta Falls. where the fog buckled and bulged before them. supersized arms akimbo on his superhuman hips. eyeball-melting orange in hue. They’re impassable.yammering that prevented rational thought. Eventually. There’s no point persecuting him any further. feelers flailing. someone. Louis made to tie the tub up. very close. they spotted a steep flight of stone steps. but Bella said no. emerged through the mist immediately ahead. The landing lights had moved on. Mustapha Midden steered the boat to the bank. The buzzing had stopped. Before long. They highfored like life-long friends and threw in a furry butt bump. one verdigried foot on either side of the Fanta Falls. legs lashing. though. Birdseye mentioned them to me yesterday. Several flights of stairs later. Orlov and Louis scampered ahead. Without pausing for breath. The captain’ll come round soon enough. “Hush. They could feel a spritz of hissing spray hitting their faces. “Please. A vast orange sodafall. A dull rumble roared ahead. allegedly. a few quick passes and Birdseye was sleeping like the Gerber baby. “I know where we are. plunged into the fog-bound abyss. Brand stretch is bad news. to the tableland above. Above the cascade stood a gigantic copper statue of the Jolly Green Giant. Said they were legendary. Ho. he gave up. though it took ten to fifteen minutes before they could tear themselves away from the Fanta Falls viewing platform. The acme. If not quite the Colossus of Rhodes.” she shouted to Louis.” Her companions didn’t doubt it. “She’ll drift back downstream of her own accord. its bleached bones of stones interspersed with gorse bushes. A brand should never be taken out of its comfort zone. where a breathtaking sight greeted them.
“and then see what’s what. personalised schedules for armies of ad characters and intense war cabinet meetings for big rebranding exercises. with hyacinth in aromatic bloom. while trying to work out where they were. more beautiful still were the students. He was right. let alone the secret love child of Epcot Centre and Eden Project. Orlov scanned a nearby map of the campus.” “Let’s track down Mr Kipling. surely. because work always comes before pleasure at great seats of learning. Bella quite liked the look of the sports centre. concerned itself with the day to day management of advertising characters. The buildings were a mix of gothic revival. It had no time for academic theorising or hypothesis testing. it became clear that the translucent dome was not a Spaceship Earth facility. to be precise. Close-clipped privet hedges and neatly edged flower beds. the crowds of alluring undergraduates thickened considerably toward the main mini-mall area and refractory facilities. An academic setting just doesn’t make sense. adjacent to an ornamental lake and arboretum. almost art deco. Although few in number on the campus outskirts.bunches and hardy karst grasses. since it would be full of helpful female undergraduates who’d just love to show them the ropes. cold. Every indicator suggested that their final destination was hereabouts. “I imagined a busy office with frantically ringing telephones. cold. It was a university. According to a poll in Time magazine. Beefeater. a giant ivory tower slap bang in the middle of the campus.” Louis said in his live-for-the-moment manner. that’s the impression she’d got from Jean-Marie Le Penguin and his PawPointed henchhusky. “I just don’t get it. Orlov voted for the central administrative block. not least the ever more iconic array of brand spokespersons: Uncle Ben. Bauhaus-brutalist bunker chic and pomo rococo a go-go. which boasted an indoor ski slope that may have been artificial but was bound to be cold. grikes and runnels ahead. ABC peacock-dotted lawns.” he said. Bibendum. because it was some time since he’d rolled a ball of dung and he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. wall-mounted day planners. neo-classical pastiche. a new university. As they drew closer to the structure. he was one of the top three advertising characters of all time. An enormous geodesic dome nestled among the clints. Certainly. Blooming cherry trees scattered their pink petals hither and yon. bordered a maze of crazypaving walkways. The Jolly Green Giant was as good as it got. The Department of Agriculture caught Mustapha’s eye. So where do we find him?” Ever efficient. However. Beautiful as the buildings and grounds of BrandLand University College undoubtedly were. The groves of academe were looking particularly resplendent. But a university? In Academy Country? ACME. which was perched on a pair of decorative iron stanchions. nothing less than BrandLand University College. The Academy Country Mammal Education campus. where they’d quickly uncover Prof Kipling’s current whereabouts. of course. They set off for the administrative building. too. The others gathered round to do likewise. I suspect. which intersected and circled and cut across immaculate. As Bella and the boys strolled past.” she said. Truth. they were stuck not only by the good looks of the student . Louis suggested the Students’ Union. Bella was bewildered. “It’s Professor Kipling.
Orlov was appalled by his companion’s ungentlemanly antics.” Mustapha crowed. then reappeared waving excitedly. He actually began barking at a giggling gaggle of shortskirted Hello Kitties.” Orlov sighed. Bella shook her head. They knocked politely. Most business academics are salt of the earth types until they get a doctorate.p. lined with old oil paintings of distinguished cats. a. “It’s Mr Kipling. which was quite an achievement for an accredited feline. their presence or absence indicated by a small sliding bar. Not him too. a few moments later. Pochacco the dog. while holding open the heavy glass door. A dung beetle in heat doesn’t bear thinking about. There’s hope for us yet. Understandably.” .” Bella noted. He winked by way of replying. “He isn’t a professor after all. She looked where Mustapha was pointing. The names of the faculty were listed alphabetically.a. 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. but also by the fact that they were indistinguishable.” Orlov corrected. Louis would have volunteered to help. Every other one was Hello Kitty and the remainder hailed from the Sanrio stable of cute critters – Pippo the pig.” he shouted. stepped onto a thickly carpeted corridor. Mustapha scuttled off at a rate of knots. “This is the place. with a series of unsightly carbuncular extensions. Mr Kipling’s office was on the top floor. “it’s more likely that he’s a Mister in the medical sense.” “Actually. Patapata Peppy owl My Melody rabbit and more. rats. They piled into the lift and. Louis. Don’t be bashful. though they were likely studying archaeology or sociology or similarly warped subjects that appeal to the misshapen in mind and body. a kind of inverted snobbery.” “He’s in. A few Hello Kitties were scattered around the lobby.” There was indeed.” a melodious voice responded. disappeared into the belly of the beast. Pekkle the duck. “There’s a board by the door that says so. mouthing bowwow for good measure. Kipling’s door was at the very end. “Excellent. There was a small bunch of ugly Bagpusses in addition. if not exactly in seventh heaven.” “Great. bats and gnats in full academic regalia. It was a nondescript sixties tower block. That’s a good thing. if Bella hadn’t glared at him. Exasperated. BrandLand Business School was emblazoned in a sans serif font above the uninviting entrance of the claddingcovered concrete bunker.” Bella was still grumbling as they waited for the lift to the top floor. Bella tried to dampen their hormonal urges – surely Louis should be more circumspect. It’s even more elevated than Professor. “At last. while bowing in an olde-world manner and offering Lark cigarettes when a voluptuous Pandapple panda walked by. “Want me to nip in and check the notice board?” Bella nodded. “Enterrrrr. Picke Bicke mouse. Mustapha Midden started tugging on her flipper. clutching clipboards and laptops and talking about overdue assignments.s.body. Top medics are always called Mister. was outside its pearly gates begging St Peter to open up. “Enter.
Mustapha twiddled his antennae inscrutably.Bella looked at her companions with a will-we-won’t-we expression. Orlov shrugged. Undeterred. Bella took a deep breath. thought about things for a second. . raised her flipper. Louis nodded. and pushed. then scuttled back down the corridor with a see-a-manabout-a-dog demeanour.
cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. Statues of cats. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. As Bella gazed around the room. but not on the second. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. dewy eyed. Whereas dogs are everywhere. curled in a ball. Cataletto. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. She didn’t know what to expect. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. “Before you ask. all silent. She imagined.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. She was right on the first count. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. There were paintings by Catavaggio. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. But there were long chains of Russian cats. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling.” Mr Kipling said. and several others she didn’t recognise. what few portrayals there are. though most of these were open and in use. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses. etc. Books there were. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. Catstable. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. which stretched from floor to ceiling. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. “Second. His handlebar . “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. are often negative. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. somehow. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. all ceramic. that it would be filled with books and not much else. cats are discriminated against and. Dozens of them. “Is that like the glass ceiling. It was the statues that surprised her. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. Pussain. with black necktie and starched collar. as product spokespersians. “First. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. “only for cats?” Smiling. smiling obsequiously. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty.” she asked. as brand mascots. Salvadore Kitty. peeping over the edge of Royal Worcester wicker baskets.Chapter Twenty-one Perfectly Good Fakes Bella had never been in an academic’s office before.
but he didn’t get a chance to flaunt his wiki-supplied expertise. removing his reading glasses with a heavy sigh. “I see. Black Beauty. where they studied national animals like the Russian bear and American eagle. then rose to greet his visitors. since the brand was a lynx in name only. Neither the logo nor the packaging properly reflected its animal origins. Mr Kipling was too fast for him. “Let me show you something. She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but took a stab. Bella inhaled deeply. his primal fear that Lynx’s days as a freestanding brand were numbered.” he called.” Kipling conceded. . He rubbed his chin idly. “Correct. schmacademics – but he knew enough to know that the scholar’s assessment was fair. the meerkat’s ears pricked up at the allusion to Alchemy. he was a Victorian patriarch: prim. The autumnal air was deliciously cool and invigorating.” He wasn’t referring to the colossus.” Kipling said calmly. abject academic analyses of beast fables like Babar. with a sweeping arc of his outstretched arm. intellectual acuity. which also included a tasty range of teatime snacks. industrious. Orlov. which was disappointing given the manifold myths. he briefly outlined his Axeman anxieties. or said he did. His brand had failed to make the most of its lynxian links. unerring. a short course on the strategic protraction skills that modern branding demands. He certainly wasn’t referring to the Department of Politics. about the Isabelline cull ordered by Jean-Marie Le Penguin on behalf of their host. “What do you see?” Kipling asked. The supplicants followed the guru on to the terrace. when the English Literature department came up for discussion. He recognised Bella right away. Bella blurted out her own concerns about ACME. since his brand was once part of the Rank Hovis McDougall empire. he made a derogatory remark about lit-crit meets crit-lit. narratives and allegorical attributes that adhere to lynxes – piercing vision. he was less impressed by. where animal gods and anthropomorphic MMORPGs were the foci of attention respectively. “I see. Indeed. rose from his desk. it transpired. He knew her grandfather well. about flipper fatigue. “are searching for the philosopher’s stone of brand longevity?” Unsurprisingly. which afforded wonderful views across Academy Country. To all intents and purposes. “The Jolly Green Giant presumably is to deter unwelcome visitors. turning to Orlov. As it was true confessions time. peering at her intently. However there was a good reason for that. Louis didn’t know what Kipling was on about – academics. he’d heard of – who hadn’t? – though he recommended enrolling on the business school’s Advertising Character Maintenance Experience.moustache would have done a walrus proud while his pate wouldn’t embarrass a coot with alopecia. much less the BrandLand University campus. strode across to a pair of glass-panelled doors and ventured out on to the balcony beyond. clandestine success. proper. He definitely wasn’t referring to the Departments of Divinity and Computer Science. Louis. along with the space-invader sound effects. nor the surrounding countryside. Politely acknowledging the great man’s perspicacity. lost in thought. The patriarch pushed back his chair.” Kipling said.” he continued. “And you.
BrandLand hasn’t suddenly become communist. worried looks on their faces. ACME is a generic term. used by all and sundry. She felt her legs buckle beneath her. animal emblem products in particular. Hello Kitty was a Japanese brand and China was one of the most anthropocentric cultures imaginable. the cute cat brand was set to grow rapidly. The clouds parted. Advertising Character Maintenance Experience. you’re saying that it’s a free for all. “If it’s not any of the buildings.” Orlov quipped. purple cows. Bella. With a start. even though our recruitment of Hello Kitties attests to the emergence of the Chinese market. What you see. She was lying on a leather chaise longue. Louis and Orlov were hovering nearby. he still hadn’t told them what they were supposed to be looking at. thereby offsetting the blatant discrimination that felines face elsewhere. struggling to breathe deeply and keep calm. Orlov and Louis exchanged bewildered glances. that the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist?” “Exactly. “It’s more intangible than that. surrounded by plaster cats. She tried again. Kipling waved at a group of Sanrio sugarbunnies playing Frisbee in the college gardens below. Academy Country Mammal Education. Toad of Toad Hall. There are hundreds of ACMEs but not the all-powerful ACME you seek.” A light went on above her head. All this way on a wild goose chase? If the Advertising Character Management Executive doesn’t exist. Animal Construction in Media and Entertainment.” Mr Kipling acknowledged. I take it. as it were – and as Chinese brands slowly take over the world. Although Bella couldn’t help admiring Kipling’s stealth cat strategy. “what is it? The students?” Smiling.” Bella said. as the Chinese calendar bore witness. The Gruffalo. with a . Bella.” he said. a glass of hard liquor in hand. Alsatian Chamber Music Ensemble. Mr Kipling caught their exchange then explained that Hello Kitty was Japan’s official ambassador to China and. Animal Coloration in Medieval Embroidery. Bella was too stunned to respond. “We’re talking about a state of mind. felines will finally emerge as the dominant brand animal. The Ugly Duckling. having established a foothold in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. let alone a committee that calls the shots. Call of the Wild. Bad as capitalism can be. “So. all staring unblinkingly into the distance. She’d been out for hours. a country big in population numbers and economic growth but small in brand name products. unprotected by copyright or trademark.” “An exceedingly good fake. 600 lb gorillas and apes in the corner office. Bella. the Hare and the Tortoise. Everything became clear. “Take a sip.” At a loss. This very building contains an Academic Centre of Management Excellence. It’s a fake. to Kipling’s irritation. There is no controlling force. Watership Down. Mr Kipling sat beside her. Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. is an agglomeration of ACMEs. A successful cat-based brand would soon lead to more catbased brands – copycat brands. Beatrix Potter’s greatest hits. where we study black swans. then…then…then… She felt nauseous. “This place is full of ACMEs: Animals in Computer Mediated Environments. Bella awoke. She clutched the decorative railing of the balustrade.” “In a way.Animal Farm.
Not many meerkats are clued up on count-line comfort foods. renders the similar dissimilar. cocked his thumb and pulled the trigger.” he said.” Disappointed. Orlov held the eminent scholar’s stare. “Almond slices. Branding is what differentiates the identikit. perhaps? Apple pie. that this slice has a heavier dusting of icing sugar – and prise products apart by advertising. The rewards are enormous in the end. All this way for what? What indeed. “These are the essence of branding. “I’m impressed. Aleksandr. It looked and smelled delicious. . just like these slices of cake. but the absence of an immediate return can prove too trying for some. Exactly. “It’s Curvoisier brandy. There’s a guaranteed way of winning the branding battle. Whether it’s cars or colas or cornflakes or computers or cellphones. “Exactly. Mr Kipling replenished her glass. though. instant impact…or else. Very impressed. say. As Bella sat up. she thought.” With a knowing look. products these days are pretty much of a muchness.” Bella said. however. then stowed the bottle away. Curvoisier delivered.” 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.” Kipling pointed a finger at his prize pupil. raising a flipper in protest. Fewer still are familiar with Mr Kipling’s mouth-watering cake collection.” The meerkat nodded sagely. He was starving. Kipling placed the slices side-by-side in the centre of his desk.twinkle in his eye. However. Mr Kipling had been moving the slices ever further apart to illustrate his thesis. Another Curvoisier wouldn’t go amiss. I’m okay. He’d eaten nothing since Bertie Bassett’s. distilled from dead dogs. “Branding. instant rewards. The burning liquid was both ambrosial and revivifying. “No really. You should consider a career in academia. One was right in front of the lynx. possibly?” The guru stared at Orlov in amazement. “We live in a world of identical products. products that are well-nigh indistinguishable in functional terms. He succumbed. someone once said. separates the inseparable. or so the story goes. though. instant returns. emphasising. I could acquire a taste for that. I wasn’t actually asking you to identify the products. Do you know what these are?” Orlov was in his element. “This isn’t a snack.” Louis couldn’t take it anymore. who pay a premium for and remain loyal to the ‘deep dust slice’ or whatever it’s called. “I’m not hungry. He popped the pastry into his mouth and swallowed it whole. Brand managers seize upon the slightest differences – the fact. The one thing that distinguishes them is branding. exaggerating and incessantly communicating this teeny-weeny disparity to consumers. Orlov dropped his eyes. where he opened a drawer and brought out a couple of exceedingly good cakes. “Oh. Drowning her sorrows seemed appropriate somehow. It’s a test. especially in these days of instant results. It’s a big investment that takes time to come good. Effective branding is a very slow process. to her companions’ relief. means making customers an offer they can’t confuse. Kipling returned to his desk. We need people like you round here. aren’t they? Angel cake.” With a good-try smile. It was a rhetorical question.
Louis struck his best cute cat pose. “I think you do. at least in the short run. his flagrant disregard for interpersonal niceties... fast and effective. his rudeness.Expecting to be lambasted for his greed.” “I still don’t see. You establish a monopoly. It’s cheap.” Mr Kipling replied. “Exactly. finishing her brandy.” Bella said. “I still don’t…of course…of course…I should have realised. You become the brand of choice by controlling customer choices. because Kipling’s sagacious face broke into an enormous grin.” .” “Wake up and smell the coffeecake.” Louis added. Exactly. “It’s as plain as the beak on your face. eyeing up the other slice. He needn’t have bothered. You swallow the competition.
Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .
the loathsome Bertie Bassett. Next are bipedal animals. those pesky Isabellines who were polluting the brand. the Adarctic equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. his call for a cull of isabellines. No wonder they felt as mad as they looked. It was a piece of macaroni misdirection. Models and Explanations. they’d been ignored by movie makers and Disney cartoonists and wildlife photographers and advertising executives.Chapter Twenty-two Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands What a fool she’d been! How could she have been so stupid? Le Penguin’s rabblerousing speech. It was a barefaced act of political brawn. It was a blatant power-play. despite the worldwide advertising downturn. Those that are most humanlike are most popular. The irony. Captain Birdseye. an ACME report on penguins jumping the shark. according to Kipling. the sacrificial lambs of the southern hemisphere. Their big bushy whiskers made them look a bit mad. He wanted “facts” that’d support his hideous fiction. they were much less photogenic than adélies. long confined to offshore islands rather than the Adarctic mainland. though. hence the iconicity of Marlboro Man. his slaughter of the innocents. the early 1950s and the early 1990s. Although macaronis were the biggest single penguin species. as Mr Kipling ruefully explained. say anything. Bella cursed herself bitterly. frankly. and supplied a convenient internal scapegoat. Humans turn to comforting cartoons – loveable creatures with anthropomorphic features – when times get tough. when western capitalism also wobbled. The 1930s and the 1970s saw a surge in anthropomorphism. But a dog-fronted firm of consultants was about as biddable as they come. is that penguins are as popular as ever. Accordingly. If anything. Le Penguin didn’t want that. Le Penguin’s putsch was totally unexpected. the suckers at the centre of it all. chinstraps or rockhoppers. Breed-interest. rather. Cute critters remind them of childhood. independent opinions would have been guaranteed. designed to make his breed the boss. in return for a chewable shinbone and a pat on the head. Humankind. But then she wasn’t an expert on Academic Concepts. conveniently finding the facts that their clients want found. as did the early 1900s. He wanted power. the demand for spokescritters increases during economic Armageddon. The demand for spokescreatures. those that walk or stand upright . was counter-cyclical. in short. Concerned consumers revert to childlike habits when recessions bite. Had it been McKitty. He’d concocted a credible external threat. Bella had never heard the expression before. She should have realised that McHusky was a plant. As did the Great Chain of Branding. emperors. was motivated by self-interest. in order to rip up and rearrange the penguin pecking order. intuitively ranks brand ambassadors in relation to themselves. However. to say nothing of tourists. except that the brownshirts – the isabellines – were the scapegoat rather than the scapegoater. Management consultants are pliable at the best of times. Dogs’d do anything. which made Le Penguin’s power play all the more despicable. Michelin Man. swear to anything.
“I’ll be staying here for a while. but even if there were she’d have been brushed off. Louis seemed excited. Bella slumped in her chaise longue. Even in BrandLand some animals were more equal than others. The entire journey had been a waste of time. given its size and growth prospects. She’d been beaten. where only the fittest and most vicious survive. has nothing to do with the Hello Kitties hereabouts?” “How could you think such a thing. a chance to seize sizeable chunks of market share. His kindly eyes were inscrutable. spiders and cockroaches. I’ve just realised that the Chinese market is totally untapped by Unilever. Not yet. eight-legged and over-eight-legged animals. he had his own brand to ballyhoo and Adarctica was no place for a stud bunny. Easy-going as a rule. Lynx is a natural fit for that country and. No doubt he’d pick on gentoos next. where they’d revel in the spoils of a rising endorsement market. Literally. The massacre of the soccer mascots was probably part of the same hideous process. is a time of opportunity for savvy brands. Orlov looked as bad as Bella felt. Not by a long chalk. Bella? Though a co-branding collaboration might be worth exploring. a similar stunt was being pulled in the ursine community by the Honey Monster and his henchbears. with shame. She recalled. most notably bears. the climax of Animal Farm. They hugged. dogs. sadly. Isabellines may have been put upon and marginalised by the denizens of Adarctica. or so she believed.” Louis said. Anarchy is advantageous for ambitious animals and few were more ambitious than Le Penguin. to the top of the penguin pile. Quadrupeds like cows. There weren’t too many brand characters based on squids. is red in tooth and claw. they say. However. Beaten. or possibly rockhoppers. Louis rrrrrrrred in return. Branding. Not completely. they’d been living on a pig’s back. Le Penguin had won. Clearly. meerkats and prairie dogs. guys. naturally. she couldn’t return home since there was a price on the head of isabellines. since swine were several critter castes down the chain. rhinos. penguins. because penguins had done pretty well. She sensed he knew what to do but wanted her to work it out for herself. But all was not lost. Not only was their no ACME to appeal to. “Rrrrrrrrr. Bella felt fit to be tied. She’d been outsmarted. “I think it’s time to go.” Bella purred. Bella was simultaneously appalled by Le Penguin’s malign manoeuvres and ashamed by her privileged status. sheep. crocodiles are further down the rankings. Eat my deodorised shorts!” “This decision. by and large. tigers. I think I can pull a fast one on the Axeman.in semi-human fashion.” She couldn’t help smiling at the loveable lummox. She glanced across at Kipling. Worse. and gradually manoeuvre his macaronis past royals and emperors. She’d been a fool. They were a study in contrasts. much less millipedes. She turned to her companions.” “Actually. monkeys. Bella. She was going to miss him. The Great Chain explained a lot. though not as far down as six-legged. as if he’d been hit by a brainwave. Yet compared to dung beetles or mosquitoes. where the cold would do his courtship display no favours. Well beaten. She’d fallen for it. when the pigs started walking upright and strutting around in their all-too-human apparel. . cats. Recession. at bottom.
where he chatted idly about a forthcoming guest lecture by D. Clean It. Attenborough. You’re too kind. Cook It. However. Shoot It. Still chatting. he said – Mr Kipling led the brand band out of his office. Her latest was called Snare It. with a come-here gesture to Louis. I know. Follow me. Taste It. Skin It. Chew It and the bestseller Trap It. he looked forward to attending her lecture.” Louis laughed. not least cadged Larks when Salty Dogs took hold. she’d published a lot of TV series tie-in books. He had finally found his pointy-headed vocation. where Hegel’s Owl of Minerva took flight at dawn. I know. Cambridge. “Why’s that. But I skimmed that particular entry. Apparently. Ever proper. Beaten to his own punch line. the aristocrat crossed the room to cuddle his boon companion.” the great brand man chuckled. condiments and preserves. The Advertising Character Maintenance Experience is a good place to start. Orlov instinctively assumed it was David Attenborough. Bella couldn’t stand in his way. Mr Kipling steered them across the bucolic campus.0. Trim It. I should have known about the ACME profusion and saved you the trouble. the meerkat watched his friends’ demonstration of sweet sorrow. “Thanks.” Touched. I’m afraid. “…and. “I think we can do better than that. which was sure to prove provocative. She not only studied wild animals (ethology) but ate them with relish (gastronomy). thanked him for his sagacious insights and asked if he knew the way to Adarctica. kissed him on the cheek and. She held him tightly. “Was there a taxi rank or something?” “Oh. I’m a fad. “I’m staying too. I’m a fraud. The meerkat was mistaken. the vaunted TV naturalist. To his shame and embarrassment. before whispering in his ear.” he giggled. she shook Mr Kipling by the hand.” Pausing only to stroke a ceramic Morris the Cat – for luck. “That’s our Simples secret. for starters. eyes shining with meerkat tears.” Mirthful. Emeritus Professor of Ethological Gastronomy at Caius College. “You gave Kipling the look. drawing their attention to the highly regarded Department of Philosophy. Aleksandr. he pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. and the not so highly regarded Department of . Kipling was referring to Dame Delia Attenborough. the way I skimmed so many others. Bella. including Catch It.” “You’ll always be an Amazingly Clever Marketing Expert to me. I think I’ll focus on self-improvement. However there’s so much more I need to know…” “Twenty-five letters worth.” She leant forward. Thanks. “I’ve got a lot to learn. I need to knuckle down and learn about branding the hard way. didn’t you?” “Just a little one. down the portrait-peppered corridor and into the elevator.” Much as she needed his gifts in Adarctica. “If ever you need…” “Yes. when Bella concluded her lynx clinch.” he said. Orlov had neither heard of Dame Delia nor skimmed her Wikipedia entry. I could do with it. in light of Mr Kipling’s indication that an academic sinecure is in the offing. Toast It. pickles. Orlov highfored his other bosom buddy then continued.Sad-faced. Scoff It. as well as with sauces. for example. Assam. held her two close friends in a farewell group hug. I’m Flat Eric 2. Aleksandr?” Orlov shrugged. Bella.
only with four enormous felines flanking the entrance instead of pharaohs. So much so. one Mustapha Midden. plus matching undergarments.” With a flourish. cow-licks and the “meaning” of hairstyles generally. was reserved for the occupants of the piazza. All six of them. “I found a bunch of Hello Kitty hairballs beside the communal scratching post. where pseudo-intellectual academics studied mullets. “But where?” Louis inquired. all with a snazzy scarab logo.” Mustapha said to his astonished associates. Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Ecstasy. “But how?” Bella asked. however. As Bella studied the rapidly dispersing crowd of Hello Kitties. “You might be needing these for your journey. “A couple of tea chests and an old blackboard for the stall. a facility for mental arithmetic and sales tax calculus. ponytails. they emerged into a compact. lookingood-ladies palaver. perhaps you’ll pay a visit to Adarctica. and even more amazed by the thought that Ecstasy herself was prepared to transport a penguin back to Adarctica at Kipling’s behest. bish-bash-bosh bonhomie. Mustapha nodded eagerly and continued in his motormouth manner.” Taken aback by Mustapha’s generosity (and industry). beehives. A crowd of excited Hello Kitties had gathered around a market stall. I’m a desert rat.Popular Culture. “All sold out. suppliers. she looked like a sacred ibis. With the hood up. “After you’ve cleaned up here.” He rubbed his claws again. bookstore. all clutching their fashionably taupe T-shirts and sweat-tops. Her utter amazement. the throng dispersed. since those who couldn’t get one now want one even more. Bella tried them on. Mustapha stared at them askance. “But surely. they were virtually throwing money at the stallholder.and restaurant-fringed piazza in front of a great colonnaded building modelled on the Temple of Rameses at Karnak. The entablature was capped by a gigantic acroterion in the shape of a familiar angel. Can’t stand the cold. generously-hooded cat-fur cloak. Mustapha pulled out a full-length. They were a perfect fit.” Much as the triumvirate admired their leggy friend’s entrepreneurial flair. Bella’d be amazed by the sight of Boeing Auditorium. where they were pushing and shoving and hissing and generally going crazy for the merchandise. though. raw material. For big name brand icons and big-brained academic types. Eventually. while rubbing his legs gleefully. Before long. “you need permission. Mustapha. “I’ve got something for you.” “No can do. Beats the hell out of battling for business in a sweaty souk full of cut-throat competitors. they were taken aback by this latest turn in his fortunes. many with disappointment etched on their ordinarily inscrutable faces.” He reached behind the makeshift counter. it’s fairly easy to run up a few fast fashion outfits. credit…” No less nonplussed. Under normal circumstances. don’t you know. she felt the glimmerings of an idea.” Orlov said.” “Many claws make light work. The fact that I ran out of stock also helps. they hadn’t a dickey bird about doing business.” Orlov said. before you know it. plus a bit of the old suits-you-sir smarm. “I like this place. and. bobcat’s your uncle. With six legs and a little get up and go. the great .
With a whirl and a wave and a swelling of tears. the scribe. . Bella hugged Aleksandr. the all-knowing deity who created the world by his voice alone. where she awaited further instructions. glided effortlessly around the piazza and landed lightly beside the fellowship of the brand. the arbiter. Spirit of Ecstasy descended from the pediment. Mustapha and Mr Kipling in turn. she was gone. On Kipling’s call.god Thoth of Egyptian legend. then mounted her de luxe conveyance. Louis.
Ogilvy hated flying. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant. much less defeated fierce macaronis. As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. suffice it to say. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. Paris Humboldt. She asked instead about the brand. a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. She had nothing to lose. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed.” Ecstasy said immodestly. As they flew over Fanta Falls.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. “Yah. “They don’t make ’em like you. yah. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. “We fiddled while the brand burned. During the appeasement era. she asked. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. serene. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. It was true what they said.” she replied diplomatically. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. anymore. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom.Chapter Twenty-three Who Was That Masked Mascot? They say that there’s no ride like a Rolls Royce ride – comfortable. Bella replied in the affirmative. with impenetrable jungle on either side. Why. Isaac and Nina. she had lost her best friend. If he’d been on this Rolls. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. complimenting the carrier on her build quality.” she said. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. She had lost her parents. Bella didn’t hold that against her. the offbeat plan solidified. If not quite Anna Karenina. luxurious. 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. I am.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. As they rose to their cruising altitude. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. So did Bella. apparently. under German ownership. 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. redolent of Roedean. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. But after Pegasus and the Roc. lowly place though it was. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. she was getting used to it. “You’re looking well on it. The ride in a Rolls was second to none.” “Rather. though. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. Bella thought. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. Bella was spellbound. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror.
” Carried away on the wind. Before long. all shouting as one. Bella’s cautionary call went unheeded. it’s the Ibis of the Adpocalypse. He sounded crazier than ever. the sublime sculpted icebergs in Starbucks Frappuccino Sound. “Are you tuft enough?” The crystal clear air carried the autocrat’s speech aloft. He’s a tyrant. They’d bought his bogus bill of goods. though some adélies looked up. The colony had fallen under his sickening spell. the Iceland ice shelf. 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. a penguin power play.” Taken aback. The bitterer the better. eddies and air pockets above Victoria’s Secret Canyon.” Ecstasy sighed. Better yet. the wind-whipped blizzards out by TK Maxx Moraine. Suddenly she could. all regimented. She couldn’t make it out at first. She could see them pointing their flippers. expecting to see something truly horrific hovering among the scudding Adarctic clouds. Outraged.” “Quite. Almost instantly. all equidistant. look. Perched on the back of a flying angel. taking in the incredible apparition above them. “Yes.” All talked out. as they crossed the bright “ice blink” threshold into Adarctica proper. except that there were more macaronis than before. It was déjà vu all over again. Le Penguin was playing his divide-and-conquer card. It was as close to ecstasy as Ecstasy was to her. Bella felt a chill in the air. the magnificently crumpled M&S Ice Falls and. Who’d’ve thought hairballs could be put to such productive use? Bezoars could be the next big thing. “The Ibis of the Adpocalypse. we’re tuft enough!” they roared in response to Le Penguin’s demagogic incantation. “We emphasised our brand’s functional attributes. Bella could feel herself welling up. It was wonderful. I suppose. it was bitter. even though she’d no home to go to.” “Tell the tale. Bella screeched at the multitude below. an enormous shocked intake of breath. Bella whirled round. After climbing over the precipitous slopes of Brandback Mountain. More and more turned round and faced skywards. Bella could clearly hear the group gasp. in the far distance. A murmur commenced. via the tempestuous Accenture Ocean and stormy KPMG Sea. Sad. It’s a trick. Buffeted by howling winds. wrapped up . Bella’s heart leapt when she saw her first penguin. Look. she mused. don’t fall for it. Spirit of Ecstasy started circling. while trimming her wings to counter the unpredictable updrafts. The muster was much better organised. the chill got chillier still as they flew south. they lapsed into companionable silence as the supersmooth journey continued. “It’s a macaroni manoeuvre. rather than the narrative that surrounds it. Then she realised with a start that the crowd was referring to her. folks. She was home.“That’s where we went wrong. the deep blue Boots crevasses. moreover. make the sale. It was beautiful too. looking for a suitable landing site. Bella believed. They stood in serried ranks in front of the podium. Bella wrapped herself ever tighter in her magnificent MuMi outfit. Ecstasy took the direct route to Adarctica. It was invigorating. It sank again when she realised that there were hundreds of them standing line abreast on top of Sony Playstation Plateau. She could see the Homebase Glacier.
as she stalked across the platform and looked out over the hollow where the rally was being held. Mr Le Penguin is quite right in that regard. Bella had the crowd in her pocket. with only her beak protruding. The entire crowd squawked in horror. “I am. He quickly regained his composure. chinstraps and adélies alike were wearing imitation crests – ridiculous fake headdresses – in homage to their leader. “I am not the Ibis of the Apocalypse. But he couldn’t interrupt.” she whispered to herself. Round up the remaining isabellines or else the emperors would be forfeit. All brands must pass. A direct attack on macaronis meant her head on a spit. Antithesis. We’re all macaronis now.” . they seemed to say. She knew she only had one shot. preparing to denounce the despot and expose his nefarious plot. She bit her lip. He showed me the Dog Jones Index and the Fang Seng index. She could see the confusion on Le Penguin’s puffy features. both of which indicate that our species’ marketing standing has collapsed. straight out of a medieval bestiary by Hieronymus Bosch. had finally arrived. while pulling back her khaki cowl. in delight and relief. Even Le Penguin stopped talking as the avenging boogie bird of penguins’ collective unconscious circled ominously overhead. Inadvertently. The crowd gasped again. she noticed that all the participants were wearing macaroni tufts. He confirmed that penguin stock had fallen precipitously. a way out for us all. head covered in an enormous cowl. a messenger. the principal rising animals are meerkats and prairie dogs.” Bella announced to the multitude. The Ibis. There is no hope for us. She took a deep breath. claiming that ACME had sent a warning. Having planted the seed of hope. a shot across the bows. however. however. She held fire. I met him. Very risky. “There is a solution. I went there on behalf of the Isabelline community – yes. Emperors. He vacated the microphone. she must have been a baleful sight. Denunciation was doomed. another rises. followed by those of gentoo descent. but Bella could see the fear in his rheumy eyes. the coming creature is the prairie dog. Even macaronisation won’t save us. Penguin psychology was unfathomable at the best of times but relying on reverse penguin psychology was dicing with death. Would it were otherwise. It was hard to control her anger. However. It requires a little lateral thinking. These were the people who’d killed her parents. as her image appeared on the giant screen. It was risky. because she was one of their own. the dictator had ceded command of his followers. Le Penguin tried to put on a brave face.in a great taupe cloak. Ten days ago. I set out to speak with Mr Kipling. She reverted to Orlov’s maladroit marketing manoeuvre in Flea-Bey Bazaar. followed by… Bella asked Ecstasy to set her down by the side of the stage. here on behalf of ACME. which of course is our community’s speciality. and as ‘dogs’ are more beloved than ‘kats’ and their kin. As one creature falls in human estimation.” She paused again. I am one of them! – in order to plead for mercy. which is considered more objective than Dog Jones. as he tried to work out her angle. “Seize the day. it seemed. “According to the Meow Jones Index. Bella swallowed.” Bella allowed her statement to sink in. it needed several seconds to germinate. a sign.
” He glared murderously. In reality.” There was complete silence for a second. “I want my MuMi. a huge roar of approval rent the air. No more macaronisation. of all for one. They look a little like us. Victorious. It was the riskiest of the lot.” She dropped her cloak to reveal her MuMi body suit. but the rewards are enormous. No more tufts. I believe a rebranding exercise is in order. I’ll make an exception.The audience exchanged glances. we’ll cull you. No more hairpieces. Today is my day. Your despicable band can go back to the boondocks. Bella knew that was a blatant lie but she also knew that penguins prided themselves on their ethos of equality. I know. Bella could hear the sea lions barking on the beach beneath Sony Playstation Plateau. Enjoy it.” “Don’t cull us. She was asking them to take a leap in the dark. Successful salespersons sell dreams not realities.” “They also say that prairie dogs return to their own sick. Not sceptical. After ten days of enforced dieting and extra-vigorous exercise. of togetherness.” the audience shouted. Having won over the doubters. a little like isabellines. Prairie dogs are tuftless. And take your tufts with you. They could see the attraction but inertia’s a powerful force. like us. “I’ll get you for this. “There’s a downside to prairie dogging. Bella could sense that the crowd was undecided. Suddenly. Just hoping that Bella could pull a lifesaving rabbit out of her hat of hope. because I’ll be back. They believe in mutual support and animal egalitarianism. “Fellow penguins. The dream did. sadly. Penguins are passé. though. Bristling with rage. I know someone who can supply prairie-doggish outfits at a very reasonable price. even though their natural crests would have to go too. Bella explained that prairie dogs were tan coloured. emperors emperors. I want my MuMi. where you belong. “It means removing all tufts. The gentoos jumped for joy. She had another card to play. Jean-Marie Le Penguin looked daggers at her. you isabelline bitch. asshole. Not bemused. This is a heavy price.” “Catch you later. though.” she said calmly. penguin parity didn’t exist. “Fear not. she turned away from the podium. The blackfoots went bananas. critter. But with a sick slimeball like you. as the gathering made up its mind.” . They live in large communities like us. sounds like Mustapha’s got himself a slogan. royals royals. one for all. It was all or nothing. “I want my MuMi. The old order would re-establish itself. We should reposition ourselves as…polar prairie dogs. Bella thought.” Mmmm. she looked incredible. “Every prairie dog has its day. Kings could be kings. She already had. the rockhoppers formed huge penguin pyramids. complete with stylish scarab logo.” “Not today you won’t. Prairie dogs are primed to top the popularity charts. Playful as always. such as our beloved macaronis. Even our most extravagantly crested species. will have to depilate.
True. Humankind needs to escape from time to time. they plundered the animal kingdom to provide this ephemeral promise. Thoughts that she’d no one to love and care for her. they would increasingly turn to friendly furry faces. according to Mr Kipling. but to make the most of the marketing opportunity. Demand was likely to increase rather than decrease. since penguin popularity had never been higher. Rin Tin Tin. The prairie dog craze was unlikely to last. was draining away inexorably. As Orlov once informed her at inordinate length. admittedly. they dreamed dreams of freedom. Pixar and Dreamworks. The cuter the critter. Stuart Little on the one hand.Chapter Twenty-four Love the Skin You’re In The euphoria was wonderful while it lasted. Still. It was unnecessary. if not his totemic tufts. In the meantime. With the aid of Snow Leopard and the remaining Linux technicians. 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. Orlov had said. trampled on though they were. the 1930s were the golden age of anthropomorphism – Cheeta. Mickey Mouse. 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. she told herself. the more they exploited it. For ever. Look on the bright side. be it the iPod. Akin to chained animals in their phone. there were MuMis to move. As the great 21st century recession bit deeper and deeper and people’s daily lives got more and more desperate. all adélies keen to assist their mottled . prevalent though pigeonholing was. she’d never felt so lonely. she had a job to do. the way to cope with this was not to make a fuss about animal rights. Sean the Sheep on the other. King Kong – and the great recession of the 21st century was going the same way. but really didn’t now. Thoughts of her dead friend. Finny too. Thoughts that although she was the centre of attention. or to complain about stereotyping. She never really did. Alone with her thoughts. Bella Adélie was left alone on the platform. Le Penguin’s flippers had been temporarily clipped. the X-Box or escape movies like Over the Hedge. Bella tried to shake off such venal thoughts. She didn’t belong anymore. Donald Duck. However. Pushing through the prairie dog putsch would take time and effort. 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. Where there’s muck there’s brands. Thoughts of her late parents. Except it didn’t last long. The adrenaline that kept her going during the past ten days.and laptop-equipped cubicles. mashups and graphic novels.
It was likely to be re-occupied by now but there might be a keepsake lying around.” Mustapha countered. She felt the material with a flipper. And any number of laboratory rats who are happy to work in my factories. Laughing. Mummies are special. all desperate to cough up furballs for money. you know. There wasn’t a sinner in sight. Ciao. she Skypied Mustapha. then move on to a bright brand future as a prairie dog proselytiser. sadly underemployed yet still unsurpassably magnificent.deliverer. Bella decided to pay a visit to her late parents’ nest.” “I hope you realise. He’d been in the business less than two days and already he was a preening queen beetle. The sun was low in the sky. The crevasse caught her eye. I was thinking of hiring isabellines.” Bella immediately thought of Ecstasy. the ride was really rather thrilling.” With a smile of admiration. She started for the ice-steps to the beach below. Bella reached to disconnect her entrepreneurial pal. such as it was. “I’ll work on it.” “Nice to know you’re an enlightened employer. smiling at the strangely distant memory. if there were problems with build quality. thanked the Linux adélies and headed for the edge of the LG Glacier. darling. suffice it to say. because they already embody the brand. “I hope you realise. “that there are forty million penguins down south who are desperate to get hold of MuMi outfits. you appreciate that there’s got to be a better way. Mustapha. No one was looking. . Long shadows extended across X-Box Bay. let alone satanic macaronis. She stared over the edge of the glacier. However. Clothes had to be hard-wearing in Adarctica and. Bella. I’ll be passing on P&G. discussing how ludicrous they’d looked in their macaroni hair extensions and dreaming of their designer MuMis. with only Paris’s pink bodysuit to protect her? She shook her head. air kiss. Mustapha needed to know sooner rather than later. Mustapha. 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. “I’ll be needing agents. On a whim. since conditions are a lot better than the ones they’re used to. “that there are forty million cats up north.” “Goody! Gotta go. It was time to pay her final respects. Logistics. Actually. Evening. especially to those without them. She had a busy time ahead of her. gabbling all the while about the day’s unforgettable events. She glanced around. ideally someone with a flair for logistics.” “You can’t create a brand called MuMi and be a bad boss. she said her fashionista farewells. Seemed pretty stout.” “When you’ve shoved as much dung as I have.” she chided.” Detecting the anguish in his companion penguin’s voice. Bella was all alone. She checked her MuMi ensemble. was drawing in. Mummies mean a lot. I’ll be needing a master franchise holder and a sales territory supervisor. Air kiss. wondering if it could withstand a chute shoot. many maintain. Was it less than a fortnight since she’d launched herself into the chasm. Mustapha changed the subject. Sony Playstation Plateau was emptying rapidly as the happy penguins dispersed to their rookeries. is the unsung key to business success and a Rolls Royce distribution network was necessary to support the MuMi brand. There’s no way I’m freezing my feelers off in Adarctica. who was hard at work on his furballs.
there’s no way he aquascutumed his apparel. He had a “Binge drinking again?” look on his reproachful face. A sheet anchor. where the chute divided and dived… There are worse things in life than death.“Weeeeeeeeee.” “I…I…I…Oh. and a chance to catch up with her better than best friend. if there’s snacking seals or peckish orcas around. Waterlogged. Alarm bells ringing. Just as striking was the ever-deepening shade of blue as she plunged ever-further. trying to focus. Head throbbing. Mustapha had no experience of proper precipitation. “You should be ashamed of yourself. The previous ride was coming back to her. the great divide. to no avail. Pepsi-cola Blue. however. She could also see someone who looked vaguely familiar. And those little tweetie birds in Tom and Jerry cartoons. BMW Blue. ever-faster into the cleated cleft. Both of them did. The penguin underworld wasn’t quite what she expected. The looming twosome merged into one. howling. Bella’s straight-laced relative stared disapprovingly at the sight of his sprawled niece. A death sentence. slow-witted leopard seals. “Izzy.” he observed. screaming. as there always are. She could see stars. grubby MuMis wrapped round her ankles. all the way to the dark heritage blues of Zara and Old Navy.” Bella dived head-first into the void. Uncle Izzy. She pushed and pushed and pushed. shrieking with alarmed laughter. She tried to kick the thing off. Bella shook her head. Deutsche Bank Blue and Bombay Sapphire Gin Blue. bashed the back of her head on the sheer wall of death. my head hurts. She bounced over bumps several times. but was far too fearful to care. she remembered the wall of death. She hurtled round bends. Struggling desperately to remove her MuMis before hitting the final deepdrop bend. she doubled up and reached back and tugged and pulled and levered and heaved and. Paris. eyes watering. the precipitous final plunge. past slackjawed. “Those Salty Dogs will be the death of you. At least the latter promised a reunion with her loving parents. the plummeting penguin couldn’t help but notice the sheer beauty of the runaway rollercoaster ride. Is that you?” Flippers akimbo. moaning and groaning. more like. Bella’s awestruck admiration was short lived. Go faster. Isaac and Nina. the warp-factor slide into the sea. more like. in fact. young woman. Despite her abject terror. were incredible to behold. She might even have looped the loop on occasion.” . Bella released her voluminous cloak and tried to extract herself from the skin-tight one-piece. beak aching. not looking where she was going. yourself especially. with a sorrowful expression that said you’ve let everyone down. It got caught around her ankles. punctuated by periods of blind panic. across the bay. water-resistant. She’d forgotten how fast it was. She’d also forgotten it got faster and faster with every twist and turn and chute and schuss. All of a sudden. no way. where the angled sunlight refracted through the layers of compressed ice. apart from that downpour up the jungle. Bella lay on her back in a puddle of icy water. her death wish. Then instantly regretted her foolhardiness. But only for a second. she wondered if MuMi’s were waterproof. unquestionably. it descended through IBM Blue. She corkscrewed like crazy. Recklessly. Pale Tiffany blue to start. The kaleidoscopic colours.
Bella leapt up. She’s stopped all that airhead nonsense. daddy. Ecstatic. no. She hurried past a hive of astonished isabelline onlookers. “No. mummy.” Smiling indulgently. it was Bella’s decision. who’d heard Le Penguin’s malevolent rant. heads bent. Without a by your leave. Isaac kissed his prodigal daughter. the entire isabelline community had made for their penguin panic room beneath the crevasse. She peeped anxiously over the screen. dearest. mummy. “Paris is perfectly fine. to one side of the wall of death divide. They couldn’t find her. She kicked off the constricting MuMis and. as she was the de facto master franchise holder for Adarctica. They all talked at once.” Bella wondered if chief brand officer for MuMi constituted a proper job. followed his indicative flipper. Plans to get a real job.” They looked up. she toward them. huddled together. daddy. Daddy. The decision was made. But the good news is that I’ve got myself a real job and Le Penguin is history. They rushed toward her. So she blurted out the first thing that came into her head. She’s happy the way she is. Staggered. all distant relatives. Warned by the adolescent gentoos. sleeping gently. Expressions of unalloyed delight crossed their defeated features. You owe them an apology. She was badly shaken up by a leopard seal. after giving Uncle Izzy an enormous hug. But her outfit saved her. Overcome with emotion. manifestly in mourning. and then she saw them. They had their hands full with Paris. young lady. “So. hoping against hope that she’d heard him properly. Bella scampered across to her best friend. “Mummy. daughter of mine. you know. surrounded by screens. We smuggled her to safety. she didn’t know what to say.” Bella’s father looked at her disbelievingly.” “She’s alive? Paris is alive?” “Right over there. head completely clear. what have you been doing with yourself. She’d lost a fair bit of blood when we found her. Disappearing off like that. However. backs bowed. Her father responded with his “explain yourself” look. not knowing what to expect. to his delighted consternation. Bella’s parents came to join her.” He pointed to a skua feather nest at the edge of the emergency rookery. a proper job. “Your parents are worried sick about you. but she’ll live.” . looking pale and interesting. she hugged her parents with all her might. Bella bellissima?” “It’s a long story. daddy.” “Miracles never cease. They assumed the worst. There the heiress was. you say?” “Yes.” “The best news of all is that I’m going to be a MuMi. “Worried sick. worried sick.Uncle Isadore tutted in his puritanical way.” He had her on “are”. There’s a bit of scarring. you ungrateful…” Astounded…excited…Bella grabbed him by the shoulders and shook. “Paris? What’s Paris got to do with it? Paris is dead. anywhere – only to fall flat on her face. They hugged and kissed and cried and embraced. “I guess Paris has already arranged a date with her plastic surgeon. “Where are they? Where are they?” She made to run off – somewhere.
Let me explain.“What??!!” “As I said.” THE END . 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. so you think he’s going to bite you but instead he chucks a rock at your head. who would win?” And. which was hoisted on to the platform as an apt prop for his postmodern “fireside chats”. Or maybe it means that all that matters is what arena we’re dealing with – the landscape defines the battle. you know. Maybe he’s talking about the tactics of being on the web in retailing. these open-forum feedback sessions soon took on a ritualistic quality. Bezos used to call All Hands Meetings. Who will win. Daisey.” “Like a secret message. this customary question and ceremonial answer gave Bezos’ employees considerable food for thought and more than a moment’s bemusement. Wal-Mart or Amazon? And maybe he’s saying that the answer has nothing to do with the question – that it’s a trick. Way back in the early days of the company. because we need to be the . the ebullient founder of Amazon. So if one of the bears has a slingshot.” “It feels like it means something – am I crazy about that?” “No it has” – he gestured vaguely – “an aura of significance. that at some point in the proceedings. but I have no idea what we were supposed to have known. —Walter Benjamin There’s a true story told about Jeff Bezos. and you’re a gorilla and you’re like ‘Shit!’ because it’s outside your paradigm.” “Or a plan. These were get-togethers for the employees – bonding sessions. someone would ask the following quirky question: “In a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear. then that is one tough bear because he has these ranged attacks.com. He did so with the aid of a gigantic fake fireplace. “That’s a good question.” Needless to say. So much so. I have no fucking idea. 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. when Amazon was sequestered in the insalubrious suburbs of Seattle. As an Amazon serf explains in his side-splitting account of “Jeff’s gorilla and bear thing”: We would all laugh very hard and look knowingly at each other. and the perfect work will do both. like a Sun Tzu kind of thing only with bears and gorillas. on the web. without fail. Although no topic was taboo.” “Maybe it’s an allegory. plans and profitability. basically – where Jeff responded to their concerns and set everyone straight on the company’s performance. for example. Maybe it’s like everyone is asking. prospects. Jeff would utter the equally gnomic answer: “It depends on the terrain. It’s not about comparing paw strength and jaw size but location and positioning.
today’s multi-tasking. I’m not of course claiming that BrandLand is a Brideshead for advertising icons. Bears with guns. and. albeit Brandhead Revisited has a ring to it. Slazenger’s panther or Chester.1 Amazon’s silverback and grizzly days may be behind it.3 Taken aback by this reaction. reacquainting ourselves with the Big Blue remembered hills of BrandLand cannot be ruled out completely. buggy whips – are just too antiquated for today’s i-minded readers. They found it dull. I mused. Granted. Jaguar’s jaguar.armed bears. All things considered. I made a start on several others. though. Some students were blown away. Puma’s puma. I surmised. You have been warned! Rather than speculate on sequels and suchlike. others learned to love the piece after several close readings. Maybe. I mean. 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. a sure fire cure for insomnia. Maybe. short. bombastic and. Aflac duck. I tried to explain away these aberrant interpretations of a paper I personally adored. As I was quite interested in literary style at the time. or we’ll end up being the gorillas who get their asses kicked. the case studies in the original – railroads. the bears who come equipped. I fully expected the students to respond positively. what are buggy whips when they’re at home? Some kind of sex toy? Geek-speak for a computer programming problem? . but if Sir Terry Pratchett can return to Discworld on 37 occasions (and counting). the diminutive Pillsbury Doughboy. admittedly. who would win? Which prey does the Firefox fox prefer. But.” I had proven once more I shouldn’t think before a second coffee. Duracell bunny or Le Coq Sportif? Who’s fastest over 400 metres. I conceded. favourably. is the secret lovechild of Betty Crocker and the Michelin Man? Are Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima related? Does Morris the Cat eat Charlie the Tuna on Fridays? These are some of the questions I set out to answer in The Penguin’s Progress. the Cheetos’ cheetah? Is there any truth in the rumour that Poppin’ Fresh. it pains me to report. hey. petroleum. the absence of illustrations is an insurmountable barrier for today’s nothing if not visually-literate youngsters. We begin with a little bit of backstory. Maybe. “Marketing Myopia” got an unequivocal thumbs down. In a fight between Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla and the Hofmeister beer bear.attention-span students can’t cope with lengthy learned articles. the students hated Levitt’s essay. nothing less than a landmark contribution to marketing thought. enthusiastically. I cast around for excuses. boring.2 Much to my surprise. Levitt is generally considered to be one of the greatest writers marketing has ever produced and “Marketing Myopia” is regarded as his masterpiece. interestingly. Some time ago. 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. let me use this afterword to explain where TPP came from and where it fits into the “great marketing tradition”. there were noticeable differences in male and female reactions to Levitt’s classic article. I didn’t get round to most of them. but for anthropomorphically-minded marketers like me many pressing questions remain unanswered.
But then I noticed something intriguing. Philip Kotler and others too nefarious to mention. So I set out to reconnect with our disgruntled readership. tongue-in-cheek. Except that I did. I did what many novice novelists do. They cost an absolute fortune.Unfortunately. Whether it be academic articles or standard textbooks or allegedly executive-friendly how-to tomes. Between 2005 and 2008. Undeterred. There was only one problem. I had never written fiction before.4 An analogous exercise with another group of undergraduates revealed that my students’ loathing wasn’t confined to the works of Theodore Levitt. Nevertheless. as an aberration. that I was Dan the Man’s twin brother). and if it weren’t for the fact that they needed the texts to “get through” their examinations. who was chosen partly on account of his prominence and evident marketing prowess (Da Vinci Code mania was at its height when I started).5 Dead bodies abounded. all of which explored a dark and dastardly conspiracy at the heart of marketing education and practice. The antidote. . students wouldn’t dream of buying BBBAMs (Big Boring Books About Marketing). I wrote three full-length 400-page thrillers. As an inveterate booklover. One was the latest management bestseller. In my case. there’s nowhere I would rather be (bar a supersized Barnes & Noble. while queuing up for the cash register. The Marketing Code. I was minded to dismiss my students’ reactions as mistaken. These were the storytelling sugar that helped the management medicine go down. Once again. I sought a literary form that differed from the standardised academic article and the conventional marketing textbook. apocalyptic threats loomed large and Dan Brown himself had a walk-on part. a series of subsequent studies revealed that I was in academic denial. When flying around the country. weren’t the only ones bored with what management gurus ordinarily offer. as a quirk of the Irish. as did Bono. which is inherently antipathetic to stick-to-the-facts modes of discourse. 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. Agents & Dealers. clearly. if not undaunted. naturally). it seemed to me that we were failing to get our message across in a congenial manner. the writing role model was Dan Brown. bought presumably to keep up to date with the latest bleeding-edge thinking. by the task I’d set myself. a pattern that repeated itself again and again during an extended visit to the United States. what’s more. secret codes proliferated. I spent lots of time in airport bookstores. I often found myself behind businesspeople who were preparing to purchase not one but two new books. My students. My chosen mode was the “management thriller”. Let alone thrillers. and The Lost Logo. Mainstream marketing textbooks of the Kotler kidney were equally unpopular. in effect. If anything. 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. You couldn’t make it up. they were deemed even duller and more boring than “Marketing Myopia”. I parodied an acknowledged master of an established genre. a consequence of our country’s literary/storytelling tradition. much less reading the wretched things. as they say. Marilyn Monroe.
though.). Essentially. And quite a few of my later ones. consumer behaviour. action sequences especially. It seemed like an interesting project and. By far my biggest mistake. say. never mind bring them all together successfully. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. My original intention was to leave things there. True. The whole process. 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. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. funnily enough. 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. However. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. Students. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. etc. of William Golding. I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. I suppose. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. techniques and writing style of academia. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. Nowadays. chronology. The same is true of fiction. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. 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. Yes. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. Crocs shoes. Like any learner. was that I tried to do too much. full stop. However. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees.In retrospect. characterisation and more besides. though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. as it gave me . if truth be told. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks.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. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. Red Bull energy drink. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. Ditto my fiction. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. the kernel for the covering. similarly. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. Stork margarine. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. pacing. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. so too the reception of my novels was mixed.
cutting back on the sub-plots and working with characters whose character was already established (by generations of advertisers). Writing at warp speed might not be a good thing – you. computer applications et al. what else would brand mascots talk about? Authors. Whistler. My brilliant publisher. Let the brand characters be characters. mashups are digital medleys. the reader. many trailers have been recut in an irreverent manner – such as the self-explanatory Brokeback to the Future – and posted on YouTube.an opportunity to work with several academic storytellers of my acquaintance. aren’t the best judges of their own work – quite the opposite. blockbuster exhibitions increasingly bring together several marquee names – Turner. In this case. I mean. not unlike those in the Decameron. Newspeak – rather than the solo shows of yore. The Penguin’s Progress is very much in keeping with today’s mashup mentality. the way I did before. I’d even thought of a crafty framing device that linked the discrete chapters together. Pom Somkabcharti. he commanded. the breakup of rock band Oasis. admittedly. songs. if anything – but I do know one thing for certain. I felt that I was overcoming some of the problems that marred TPP’s predecessors. I felt that a neat anthology was on the cards. Write something original! The scales fell from my eyes. which replace the Führer’s climactic rant with fake subtitles on subjects as diverse as Sarah Palin. which meld a wide variety of formerly separate genres. a German language movie about Adolf Hitler’s final days. Vampire Hunter are commendable examples of commercially successful mashups. where they vie for viewer attention alongside wicked spoofs of Downfall. He said that instead of fiddling with fatuous framing devices and so forth I should write a story featuring the brand characters themselves. I didn’t have to shoehorn the marketing material into the plot. Chastened by my screenwriter encounter. In the literary world. Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. I wrote the first draft of the novel in five weeks flat. Formally defined as “blending data from various online sources into a unique combination”. In television. Rob cut through the crap. Bring the brands to life. wasn’t impressed. Monet at the Tate or the recent Saatchi exhibition. So she engineered a meeting with the equally brilliant screenwriter. As with my first “management thriller” I felt that I was creating something new. In movies. By sticking to the familiar quest narrative. Arabian Nights. a work of “fictionalised non-fiction”. Canterbury Tales. meanwhile. The Penguin’s Progress was born. videos. et al. Seth Grahame-Smith’s recent novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln. “How am I going to conquer the world with just Pot Noodle and Oreos?” .7 In music. ratings-grabbing series like Lost and Survivor. car parking in Tel Aviv. Rob Williams. are exemplary media mashups. What’s more. Stop writing parodies. Marketing conversations arose naturally from the characters. In the visual arts. 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”. must be the judge of that – but on a personal level it was very fulfilling. the Third Reich’s serious iPad shortage and Domino’s Pizza’s reluctance to deliver to the bunker. bits of bytes brought together as books.
As Kathryn Braun discovered in her study of consumers’ memories of Disneyland. Traditionally advertising animals have appeared in one-beast-one-brand arrangements. zero-tolerance stance seems to have the upper hand right now. Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be seen dead in Kentucky Fried Chicken. though a hardline. however. usually on the grounds of satirical intent and/or fair use. 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. consumer response has been highly favourable. True.8 The fondly remembered Duracell bunny ads. of late. or A Bathing Ape using Dove shampoo and body wash. Lux the Penguin works for Linux. In a shared narrative space. Pattern Recognition. which features more than 3. But there is no reason why these critters can’t interact. Consumers are routinely exposed to cavalcades of juxtaposed brand characters in TV advertising breaks. That elephant is called copyright. Jennifer Government. which revealed that many people “remember” meeting Warner Brothers characters like Bugs Bunny in a place exclusively reserved for Walt’s immortal menagerie. As one commentator ruefully observes: . which claims Nike kills customers for promotional purposes. such as the Mastercard Superbowl ad of 2005 (which featured Mr Clean. are an enduring testament to consumers’ mashup mindedness. Nipper is HMV’s perennial pitch-pooch. she’s Borden born and bred. the Oscar-winning animated movie Logorama. Ask any counterfeiter. it makes perfect sense from a consumer perspective. let alone Red Lobster. Leo the Lion hawks MGM movies. the anti-piracy sentiment that currently prevails is very short-sighted. where the little pink drummer bursts into ads for rival products. Brand characters are trademarked. Indeed. numerous consumers are quite comfortable with the thought of Tony the Tiger stalking the Pillsbury Doughboy. free-ware circulation and user-generated content generally is generating much debate and not a little anguish in legal circles. The vexed issue of copyright law in relation to file sharing. What’s more. Charlie the Tuna. among others). Elsie isn’t just any old cow. or indeed Cadbury’s chocolate gorilla going mano-amano with a gang of grizzly Gummie Bears. That said. whose cool hunter heroine is weirdly allergic to the Michelin Man and. in the main. Churchill the Bulldog and the Honey Monster. Celebrated examples include American Psycho. fan fiction. It thus seems that BrandLand really does exist. which makes a big difference in the eyes of the law. their intellectual property. their copyrights. It gathers together several hundred brand characters. There’s an elephant in the room. between the covers of glossy magazines. there is a long history of creative works circumventing the censure of copyright holders.9 Typified by the much-lamented removal of Downfall spoofs from YouTube. which is stuffed with blood-spattered brand name products. for certain consumers at any rate. on roadside billboards. the Morton Salt Girl and many more) or the Comic Relief ad of 2009 (which starred Bertie Bassett. on the occasions when allsinging-all-dancing advertising mashups are attempted. and companies are understandably protective of their trademarks.The Penguin’s Progress is a management mashup.000 corporate logos (all used without permission) and a psycho-killer Ronald McDonald for good measure.
This attempt may not be successful. Any criticism. the dreadful how-to tome. my superlative publisher and indomitable rock of ages. and products such as beer and automobiles by associating them with lions or sharks. And yet. who reminded me over a memorable weekend what this book is all about. there’s the awkward fact that all artistic endeavour involves borrowing from other art works. should be directed at me. the “Faber Fellowship”. and yet – we have ceremonially adorned ourselves with their fur. 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 grant you. Let me conclude with a cogent quote from Graeme Gibson’s wonderful anthology. we pulverise their livers and bones. Perhaps the traditional templates are too deeply embedded to change. As if. who refocused my muddled thinking and encouraged me to abandon easy pastiche for the rigours of originality. and with dominant predators in particular: we fear and revere the latter while envying their strength and grace. We academics don’t have to write in a dry-as-dust manner or charge students a fortune for recycled hand me down ideas. And if we allow narrow considerations of intellectual property to stifle this creativity. Maybe my mockery will be mocked by mainstream educators and researchers. Our ideas can be communicated in interesting. then we may all. The brilliant people who put this book together bear no responsibility for its contents.10 I can’t deny. We seek to empower kingdoms. Madison. the genius screenwriter. The Bedside Book of Beasts. Rob Williams. live to regret it. however – and especially those who are interested in culture – the issue is more complicated. last but not least. As a critic by inclination. the author. all of which are intellectually bankrupt. bears or tigers. unconventional ways. my incredible family – Linda. TPP is an attempt to do just that. that The Penguin’s Progress encroaches onto trademarked territory. I’m thinking particularly of Pom Somkabcharti. hawks or eagles. however. The management tome doesn’t have to be a collection of metoo case studies. 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. though. their teeth and genital organs. For one thing. we’re inclined to kill them when we can. my ever-supportive brother-in-law. except for the lawyers. original. To normal human beings. who was a notorious borrower. It does so with satirical intent. Just think of Handel. I can hardly complain when I’m criticised in turn. who cling to the notion that marketing is a proto social science rather than a domain where wild and woolly storytelling obtains. but the conventional marketing textbook. which explores the interdependency of man and animal: Humans have a complicated relationship with all wild animals. mixing them into magical or quasi-medicinal potions in the pathetic hope of acquiring some smidgen of their life force. who read the rough drafts with his customary good humour. As pastoralists and sport hunters. nations. professional sports teams. We also resent such carnivores as competitors for food.To an intellectual property lawyer [the take down] will seem entirely straightforward. That’s their prerogative. and because they occasionally eat commercial domesticates. ho-hum exhortation and unimaginative mixed metaphors. and. . Alun Richards. the standard academic article. The target of my parody is not the brands themselves.
for example. When it comes to Levitt’s “masterpiece”. The basic problem is that our academic articles and me-too textbooks aren’t remotely readable. computer games and videography. and animal dances and masks have played essential parts in our most ancient and powerful rituals. mine has been reasonably productive. 4. 1986). from the cabinet of curiosities and the science journal. pp. The Malaysian healers said to turn themselves into tigers are only one example of such metamorphoses. or scavengers. helpful or destructive. Twenty-one Dog Years: Doing Time @Amazon. Here comes another shameless plug: Stephen Brown. “Marketing Myopia” has been republished on so many occasions – at least five times in HBR alone – that it must be considered his signature paper. 209-238. you! If you have any comments on the novel. pp. is typical of the show’s prevailing mood. Nothing here constitutes anything as coherent as a new movement.feathers. experiment and belief. the artists gathered here are nowhere near as united by shared times and values as the Brit Artists were. 5. or a deceptive mixture of the two. I’m acutely conscious that. Consider the following apt comments on the Newspeak exhibition: “This clash of new and old. and body-parts from the earliest of times. scientific and irrational. from Claude and the comic book. The Celestial Blue Wolf of the Chinese and Mongol dynasties was the mythic ancestor of Genghis Khan. a strong case can also be made for “The Globalization of Markets”. I’m not convinced that the “can’t read-won’t read” argument holds water. My only defence is that. This may well be so. as a card-carrying academic. 6. 7. incidentally. As with all symbolic representations. Thank you for reading this far. Speaking personally. Among northern peoples. Don’t all rush at once. London. remainder bins and second-hand bookstores everywhere. But most of the exhibitors can be described as samplers. See Stephen Brown. As a group. in what seems to be a search . arguably a symptom of the male menopause. 2005).com Notes and References 1. Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities (Sage. Yes. writing novels ’n’ stuff is a wee bit aberrant. Still available from all good charity shops. Both. The younger generations are prepared to read. animal-human blends can be either good or wicked. bears are renowned spirit guides. 2.com (Fourth Estate. are available in his excellent anthology. The Penguin’s Progress is a “deceptive mixture”. such as iPhone apps.Mike Daisey. as the stunning success of Harry Potter and Twilight attests. There has been a long and dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods: Buddha is the Lion of the Shakyas. and the ancestors of humanity. The Marketing Imagination (Free Press.sfxbrown. we need to explore other platforms. But a bit of spit and polish on our prose wouldn’t go amiss. 9899. 3. You glutton for punishment. New York. and Christ the Lion of Judah. compared to some mid-life crises. whose art takes from then and now. London. Marketing Theory 4 (3). However. “Theodore Levitt: the ultimate writing machine”. 2002). 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. 2004. don’t hesitate to get in touch via my website: www. It’s very widely cited. but only if the reading material is engaging and exciting.
Braun. check out Lawrence Lessig. Culture Magazine. “Will this be the Downfall of remix culture? Don’t bet on it”. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (Bloomsbury. “Entering a whole new head space”. 10. 5 June. is a thorough historical overview that’s well worth reading (University of Chicago Press. Also useful is media guru Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press. London. Chicago. 21. 9. Rhiannon Ellis and Elizabeth F. 2010. The Sunday Times. “Make my memory: how advertising can change our memories of the past”. 2009). London. Adrian Johns’ Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates. John Naughton. 2010. Sunday 25 April. On the on-going copyright debate. 2008). New York. as is David Shields’ Reality Hunger. Psychology and Marketing. 8. pp. 1-23. 2005) and his more recent polemic. Loftus. 6-7). Kathryn A. 19 (1). Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (Penguin. 2008). The Observer. London. p. an invigorating rant on the iniquities of copyright that’s made up of 618 unattributed quotations (Hamish Hamilton. pp. .for missing meanings” (Waldemar Januszczak. 2010). 2002.
And we often make sense of other things by viewing them as people too”. Monopoly’s Mr Moneybags. whether it be A Bathing Ape. all told. the Pets. Morris the Cat.Appendix The Great Chain of Branding Animal species are chosen not because they are good to eat but because they are good to think. Bertie Bassett. the Gold Blend couple. Cheeka. Colonel Saunders. the Bisto family. Elsie. culling anthologies of brand icons and making personal visits to brand museums. a shades-wearing. Ronald McDonald. the Groucho Marx-style icon of an American brand of pickles. brand animal popularity is directly related to species’ physiological and psychological distance from humankind. It’s based on a modicum of empirical research. the Vodaphone pug. less than 10% of the brand animals are actually mentioned in the novel. Fido Dido. who sported devilish rabbit ears and revelled in a don’t-mess-with-me slogan: “Avoid the Noid”. Most of these mentions. Anthropomorphically speaking. my dataset comprised 1. Johnnie Walker’s Strider. perhaps inevitably. the Coppertone Girl. Julius Pringles. I refer to the Great Chain of Branding. Of this total. assorted Scottish Widows and many. way-cool character who was big in the 1980s. which enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame during the millennial dotcom boom. the Bon Ami . 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. Johnny English. many more. I developed a database of brand animals (though “database” is rather a grand word for a pen and paper exercise). Aunt Jemima. This concept – an admittedly glib adaptation of the medieval belief that all living beings are arranged in accordance with their distance from god – is not a figment of my imagination.R. Hartley. Howard Brown. are made in passing. not entirely. Prior to writing The Penguin’s Progress. Pillsbury Doughboy.2 It follows. such as Hello Kitty. the Hofmeister beer bear. After trawling through websites. the Burger King. —Claude Levi-Strauss In chapter 22.151 individual entries. The most popular creatures in my database (21% of the total) are real and stylised human beings: the Marlboro Man. J. Captain Birdseye.1 Well. or the Noid. We know a lot about ourselves. As my Great Chain analogy indicates. this is as it should be because “We are people. Honda’s Mr Opportunity. the Michelin Man. a nasty red-suited mascot for Domino’s Pizza. the Morton Salt Girl. Veritably Clean. the HMV dog. Uncle Ben. the Mytag repair man. Joe Isuzu. moreover. Crazy Eddy. the super-cool brand of exclusive Japanese apparel. the Vlasic stork. the Borden cow. that the second most common brand characters are domesticated animals (16%). a famously underemployed employee of the household appliance manufacturer. Nipper.com sock puppet.
as are personified fruits. the Monster. Broadly speaking. bring up the rear. Mr Peanut. the Airness panther and the MGM lion (12%). the Glenfiddich and Deere deer. vegetables and plants (e. 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. Mr Clean. the Merrill Lynch bull and Burt’s ever-industrious Bees. storks bring children. icon and offer together as a seamless whole. perhaps surprisingly. foretelling the future) and certain avian species in particular (doves mean peace. the Calvin Klein polo pony. four “mascot strategies” can be identified: match. whereby the brand name. However. such as Budweiser’s much-loved Louie. my database reveals several significant variations in brand managers’ behaviour. India of elephants and so forth. etc). the mascot and the product or service are essentially one and the same. albeit butterflies. the Lacoste crocodile. are striking exceptions to the cold fish rule (7%). Dinosaurs were all the rage during the 1990s. France is fond of roosters.3 A secular trend is evident too. anthropomorphic mobile phones. unsurprisingly. owls impart wisdom.g. fecundity. More recently. and smaller herbivorous animals like the Playboy and Duracell bunnies. lions and bulldogs figure prominently in Britain. Toilet Duck. were extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Wild animals are rather less popular. cuckoos cause trouble. the logo. Aliens. Cobra beer. needless to say. Camel cigarettes. eagles and horses are popular in America. The match model is characterised by congruence. Puma sportswear. Shell petrol. Dove deodorant.com and Bell Canada beavers. mystify. the Dodge ram. the overall pattern is fairly straightforward and makes intuitive sense. mix. no less). Michael Crichton and the “mass extinction” controversies. Australia of kangaroos. Nevertheless it contains a number of oddities. as in the cases of the Honey Monster and Jolly Green Giant – whereas in other cases the critter connection is curiously unclear. As you might expect. spiders. insofar as technological or social developments are reflected in the rise and fall of certain brand beasts. Kangaroos sneakers. ladybirds. Betty Crocker.chickens. multiply. for instance. Mr Kipling cakes. Woodpecker cider. Jaguar cars. Despite the inadequacies of my data set. This is due to the very strong symbolical and religious resonances that adhere to birds in general (flight. feature more prominently than might be expected in strictly physiological terms (19%. marketing quirks that are worthy of mention. Crocs shoes. In addition to the overall pattern. snails and scorpions are not without their supporters (4%). animal ambassadors are embraced wholeheartedly – to the extent of renaming the company after them. fireflies and. turtles and lizards. furthermore. freedom. dolphins. This is very much in keeping . the Aflac duck. Chiquita Banana. Insects. Penguin books. whales. Californian Raisins. brilliantly succeed in bringing name. Slow Cow anti-energy drink. the Firefox and Fox Head foxes and the Quantas and Cushelle koalas (9%). Birds. close encounters and Star Wars frenzy was at its height. South Africa of springboks. Le Coq Sportif. caterpillars. Red Bull energy drink and its antithesis. thanks to Steven Spielberg. Tom Tomato). seahorses. when the space race. Aquatic creatures and amphibians are less popular still. The first of these involves national animals. though a distinction can be drawn between large carnivorous creatures like Tony the Tiger. In some cases. Cap’n Crunch cereal.
Maturity is marked by multiplication. In effect. indeed. but it doesn’t do brands any harm.4 The mix model is rather less focussed insofar as the spokescreature endorses the product rather than embodies it. are much less trouble than their human counterparts. though. Toucan Sam has starred alongside his Froot Loops-loving nephews. the belief that if one critter is good. Branding is red in tooth and claw and an icon life cycle is clearly discernible. except that they work for free. Nipper. Chester. What’s that all about? Curiosity may have killed the cat. don’t complain. as in the case of Marmot apparel or Gatorade energy drink or. Willie. Beauregard. Since 1994. The fourth stage. each with their own colourful personality. the Hush Puppies basset hound. which seems to get bigger with every passing year). Multiply. The logo of Hot Tuna clothing company is a snarling piranha. At one stage. It’s not simply a missed opportunity. epitomises marketing’s more-more-more mentality. Leo.with Ries and Trout’s classic marketing precepts of positioning and single-minded mindshare. There are currently six M&M spokescandies. glowering. they are the animal equivalents of celebrity endorsers. bull-shaped billboards for Osborne Brandy that stand sentinel on innumerable Spanish hillsides or Ralph Lauren’s sporty polo pony. the Budweiser Clydesdales. Elsie the Borden cow was part of a cartoon herd – Beulah. black. similarly. the MGM lion. animal mascots are not immortal. way back when. the Lacoste crocodile. Hello Kitty’s prodigious plush litter includes Keroppi the frog. Lobelia and Elmer the Bull – before a cull was sensibly commanded. but the mystify strategy is something else again. That said. the penguin. the Toys R Us giraffe. Tony the Tiger has a son and heir. Coke’s Christmastime polar bears and Cheeka. all things considered. fire-breathing dog with six legs. Unilever’s Lynx range of manly requisites. The Raid Bugs have exploded exponentially. Vodaphone India’s indomitable pug. Morris. the Trix rabbit. It’s a situation where the connection is sufficiently incongruous to intrigue potential customers and thereby attract them to the brand. Rhino Rapper and the Ostrich sisters. the Airwick ostrich. My Melody the rabbit and Badtz Mary. 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. where a potential link between brand name and animal mascot is ignored. believe me). Tony the Tiger won a brand beauty parade against several rival spokescritters including Katy the Kangaroo. Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu). two critters are better and a swarm of brandcritters is best of all. the Cheetos cheetah. basically speak on behalf of the brand. The take-off phase is often accompanied by a dramatic increase in the physical dimensions of the chosen icon (consider the gigantic. begat Chipper. is perhaps the . Why not a big bad wolf? Agip’s 4. albeit not quite to Biblical plague proportions. Geoffrey. Larabee. whose name you’ll never ever guess. where the original is joined by an extended family of allegedly close relatives (the Jolly Green Giant spawned Little Sprout. Congenital critter creep is one thing. rarely go off the rails and. How come? Wolf Blass wine features a fearsome eagle on the label. the HMV dog. the Kool cigarettes penguin. by contrast.000-plus petrol stations in Italy boast a big. to say nothing of Lil’ Doggie. the Pillsbury Doughboy’s dog and cat are called Flapjack and Biscuit respectively. the 9Lives spokescat.
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. wars of attrition and apocalyptic economic aftershocks are the postmodern breeding grounds of guiding animal spirits. Brand animals may come and brand animals may go but the urge to anthropomorphise is always with us.0 – cf. 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. 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. As humankind becomes an ever more protected species. sly foxes. stupid cows. the sleep of reason produces mascots. etc. promiscuous rabbits etc. more cherubic. more and more cute with the passing of the years (the Michelin Man and Mickey Mouse are classic examples of this Peter Pan propensity. Whereas interpersonal slurs involving ethnicity. age. nevertheless. brand managers are bagging wild animals with impunity. so I’ll spare you the golden oldie gory details. gets younger. the current socio-economic ecosystem is conducive to the continuing rise of advertising icons. the same is not true of animals. Pace Goya. which increases opportunities to view. and the creaturefriendly character of Web 2. insofar as it doesn’t involve decrepitude and decline.6 Be that as it may. more childlike. their personalities. True. wise owls. social class. Facebook’s phenomenally successful Farmville – it has long been recognised that humankind’s anthropomorphic propensity increases at times of stress. cheeky monkeys.most fascinating of all. Their characters. Apart from the obvious multiplication of communications channels.7 Whatever else is . like death. 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.5 Just as all art aspires to the condition of music. We are quite happy to talk about obstinate mules. as the late great biologist Stephen Jay Gould famously explained in an essay on neoteny). continue to be caricatured and vilified. Le Penguin notwithstanding. sexual orientation. Just as the golden age of advertising (early 1960s) was an age of great global anxiety (not least the thermonuclear threat). taxes and Woody Allen movies (one of which features unforgettably personified spermatozoa). if anything. so too today’s terrorist outrages. animals remain fair game. their “natures”. body-shape or nationality are all-but impermissible these days. uncertainty and rapid technological change. as is the closely associated “nostalgia boom”. more cuddly. In this regard. it is noteworthy that the single most striking evocation of the recent banking crisis was Rolling Stone’s unforgettable description of Goldman Sachs as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells of money”. In general terms. Today’s rising tide of critters is also attributable to the much-maligned infantalisation of contemporary consumer culture. so too brand icons converge on the cuteness of Hello Kitty. religion. The brand character. gender. etc. I’ve described that at length elsewhere.
Domesticated animals demonstrate it too.com. 30-36. New York. Lovejoy. “The great American bubble machine”. Note. Pegasus and so on). London. at any rate. the more things stay the same. accessed 4 May 2010. Oxford. Rolling Stone (1082-1083). “Mickey Mouse meets Konrad Lorenz”. which held sway for hundreds of years prior to the Enlightenment. 5. 2009. which is to say that domesticated animals have been infantilized”. the famous line “animals are good to think with” is a misquotation. Marketing – The Retro Revolution (Sage. As the epigraph of this appendix indicates. Matt Taibbi. 88 (1). check out Stephen Brown. London. longing and imagination – with spiritual matters rather than earthly ones – beasts are overwhelmingly physical” (Bloomsbury. p.said. 1979. many of which can fly (dragons. There’s a great quote to this effect in Graeme Gibson’s Bedside Book of Beasts. Not that I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. C’est la vie. is brilliantly described in Arthur O.This worldview. 2000). The more things change in western capitalism. p. 1995). p. [original 1962]. 2009). My database. Rolling Stone’s arresting image will surely rank alongside muckraker Ira Tarbell’s analogous 1904 depiction of Standard Oil as a “giant grasping octopus”. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Rodney Needham (Merlin Press. and complex behaviours (such as courtship) are greatly simplified.8 Notes and References 1. Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford University Press. Anthropomorphically. Gould. 3. Cambridge. The sum effect is arrested development. 89) explains. pp. that this neoteny tendency is not confined to cartoon critters. Natural History. phoenixes. trans. www. about our great economic cataclysm. however. xi. is called – get this – Tony Junior! 6. more submissive. 7. griffins. 4. See Al Ries and Jack Trout. twentieth anniversary edition (McGraw-Hill. London. A useful critique of this model is found in Doug Holt’s How Brands Become Icons (Harvard Business School Press. Claude Lévi-Strauss. Totemism. “Whereas birds are associated with creativity. Cambridge. 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. If you want to suffer further. 8. “domesticates are plumper and more rounded…more docile. Tony the Tiger’s only son. includes a fair number of mythical creatures (7% of the total). Stephen J. Stewart Guthrie. .rollingstone. BTW. far less hardy. As Graeme Gibson (op cit. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Harvard University Press. 1936). 2001). 2. p. It only seems like yesterday that I was writing about retromarketing. 89). in years to come. 2004). 13 July. incidentally. 1964. 129.