The Penguin’s Progress

A Mashup for Managers


Stephen Brown

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

Tony. Stupid Chapter 20: All Your Brands are Belong to Us Chapter 21: Perfectly Good Fakes Part VIII: The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes Chapter 22: Let Us Now Praise Famous Brands Chapter 23: Who Was That Masked Mascot? Chapter 24: Love the Skin You’re In The Little Penguin That Could: Author’s Afterword on Mashups and More Appendix: The Great Chain of Branding . Burning Bright Part VII: Brands Can Only Get Better Chapter 19: Keep it Simples.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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Penguin’s Progress .

No Trademarks Were Harmed in the Writing of This Novel .

Part I Adarctica Calling .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II BrandLand Ho! .

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III Sure of a Big Surprise .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV I’ll Take Madhattan .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part V Just Deserts .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VI Penguin at the Gates of Dawn .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part VII

Brands Can Only Get Better

Chapter Nineteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to her father’s activism on behalf of Isabellines. hundreds of them in big leather bindings on heavy wooden shelves. There were paintings by Catavaggio. all ceramic. Dozens of them. an Old Master with a weird smile that screamed got-the-cream. impressive clusters of Ancient Egyptian cat sarcophagi and diverse kitsch cats in sickeningly cute poses – soppy faced. curled in a ball. which stretched from floor to ceiling. “the rationale for the cats’ collection is twofold. She didn’t know what to expect. that it would be filled with books and not much else. But there were long chains of Russian cats. what few portrayals there are. yet they are grotesquely underrepresented in advertising campaigns. all staring towards the door in unsettling symphony. The office was also furnished with copious oil paintings of cats. a pussy pressure group that endeavours to push through the cast iron cat-flap. “Is that like the glass ceiling. all silent. Statues of cats.” His voice was calm and mellow – avuncular almost – just like his demeanour. Catstable. one of whose Just So stories featured “The Cat That Walked By Himself”. with black necktie and starched collar. The place looked like an airport shop for cat lovers. 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. are often negative. Pussain. she noticed that the cat motif didn’t stop with statues. Whereas dogs are everywhere.” she asked. He was wearing a threepiece herringbone suit. Pride of place was occupied by the Veermeow’s “Pussy With a Pearl Earring” and the “Moggy Lisa”. they were planning to call me Mr Kitty. Mr Kipling sat back in his leather armchair. She imagined. It was the statues that surprised her. smiling obsequiously. “First. then changed their minds when a Disney cartoon of The Jungle Book focussed attention on the works of Rudyard Kipling. as product spokespersians. but not on the second. His handlebar . etc. Books there were. As Bella gazed around the room. somehow. “Second. though most of these were open and in use. Salvadore Kitty. He appraised his visitors quickly before continuing. “Before you ask. and several others she didn’t recognise. “only for cats?” Smiling. cats are discriminated against and. as brand mascots. dewy eyed. Most of the reproduction felines were “lucky cats”. She was right on the first count. when my brand was formulated back in the 1960s. I am president of Adopt a Cat Mascot Everyone. cats are the most popular companion animal in the world by far. without looking up from a mound of paperwork. He glanced up at this point to reveal a pair of intelligent hazel eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell glasses.” Mr Kipling said. the beckoning Maneki-neko of Japanese legend. Bella was well used to anti-discrimination campaigns. as was an Acer Aspire laptop. polished plaster dolls that nested Matryoshka-style. Cataletto. reproductions of legendary masterpieces with cats in place of people. A pile also sat on an antique walnut desk in the middle of the room.

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

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

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

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

Part VIII The Emperor Penguin’s New Clothes .

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

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

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

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

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

a plan was fermenting in Bella Adélie’s fertile mind. As they followed the winding course of the Cokenoco River. Nestled in the small of the back of Spirit of Ecstasy. 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. Faint heart never won fair mermaid. The ride in a Rolls was second to none. If not quite Anna Karenina. does Rolls never use her heart-warming story in its marketing strategy? . As the Spirit of Ecstasy lifted off from Purina Piazza. Ecstasy asked if everything was okay. They had me kneeling in supplication at one point. the loudest sound would be his screams of terror. smoother than a baby seal’s bottom. redolent of Roedean.” she replied diplomatically. If he’d been on this Rolls. She had more important things to think about than her former hatred of heights. she asked. anymore. she had lost her very place in the wet ’n’ wild world. She had nothing to lose. luxurious. apparently. She had lost her parents. But after Pegasus and the Roc. Isaac and Nina. 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. “Yah. between the outstretched thews of the Jolly Green Giant.” she said.” “Rather. she convinced herself that it was far too crazy to succeed. She asked instead about the brand.” Bella wasn’t sure whether that was a joke or not. yah. it was undeniably Mills and Boon. complimenting the carrier on her build quality. During the appeasement era. suffice it to say. Paris Humboldt. Bella was actually beginning to enjoy herself. I am. she had lost her best friend. As they flew over Fanta Falls. It was true what they said. Girton and jolly-boating-weather at Henley Royal Regatta. As they rose to their cruising altitude. how Rolls had slipped from a byword for British brilliance to a fusty relic of bygone days. Why. with impenetrable jungle on either side. So did Bella. lowly place though it was. though. Bella thought. “We fiddled while the brand burned.” Ecstasy said immodestly. much less defeated fierce macaronis. she was getting used to it. “I myself was redesigned on countless occasions. “You’re looking well on it. Ogilvy hated flying. serene. the offbeat plan solidified. Bella didn’t hold that against her. Bella was spellbound. nor whether to offer congratulations or condolences when Ecstasy claimed to be one hundred years old. Legendary adman David Ogilvy once claimed that the loudest sound in a Silver Ghost was the ticking of the dashboard clock.” the majestic mascot replied in a clipped English accent. “They don’t make ’em like you.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. under German ownership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

though the same is true of my early academic endeavours. so too the reception of my novels was mixed. Ditto my fiction. I curl up with embarrassment whenever I think about The Marketing Code. funnily enough. Crocs shoes. No doubt some people have a natural flair for narration – born storytellers. I suppose. pacing. Having produced a threestorey monument to male mid-life madness. However many undergraduate students don’t see it that way when there are examinations to pass and qualifications to acquire. though. It seemed like an interesting project and. Akin to the legendary talking chimpanzee. painfully and with many mistakes along the way. the kernel for the covering. The published reviews were reasonably favourable. consumer behaviour. 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. characterisation and more besides. And quite a few of my later ones. a serendipitous encounter with a screenwriter encouraged me to give marketing fiction another go. Just as the production of my thriller trilogy was flawed. as it were – but most of us acquire the requisite skills slowly. techniques and writing style of academia. where all three stories comprised a seamless whole. Yes. True. as it gave me . I made grievous mistakes with my plotting. Charles Monteith – I was unable to see the wood for the trees. if truth be told. However. However I genuinely felt that each volume exhibited signs of improvement in certain key areas. Essentially. However. action sequences especially. inasmuch as it takes time to master the tools. I realise that my thriller trilogy was deeply flawed. never mind bring them all together successfully. the remarkable thing is not what the ape actually says but the very fact that it speaks. was not dissimilar to doing a degree or a doctorate. Like many “proper” authors – I’m thinking. The same is true of fiction. was that I tried to do too much.In retrospect.). Like any learner. similarly. whose baffling waffle was turned into Lord of the Flies by his astute editor. etc. chronology. market research and so on – that is the norm in most marketing textbooks. full stop.6 I felt it was time to get back in the scholarly saddle and try to catch up with the academic caravan that had moved on in my absence. the novels made a very pleasant change from dry-asdust textbooks and dull-as-ditchwater articles. though I reckon the reviewers were responding more to the novelty of the “management thriller” than my ability as a novelist. My intention was to tap into the narrative turn in management thinking while building upon the fable/fairytale foundations that had produced the management bestsellers I alluded to in the Foreword. They also lacked the neat and tidy structure – easily-assimilated chapters on branding. it was a collection of Kipling-esque fables about anthropomorphic brands (Jaguar cars. 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. Nowadays. It’s difficult enough to do one of these well. Stork margarine. I’d been toying with the idea of an edited book provisionally entitled Just So Stories for Brand and Marketing Managers. of William Golding. were divided in their reaction to my trilogy. Students. My original intention was to leave things there. say. The whole process. Red Bull energy drink. they lacked the lists of easily-digested facts that students normally memorise and regurgitate in examinations. By far my biggest mistake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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