Britain Loses Another Iconic Brand

From the Economist today:

WHY can’t Britain hang on to ownership of iconic brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, the Mini, Rowntree, the Times and now Cadbury, purveyor of chocolate to children of the British empire? On January 19th, after a four-month battle, Roger Carr, chairman of Cadbury, said his board was recommending to shareholders a £11.9 billion ($19.5 billion) takeover bid by Kraft Foods, of Northfield, Illinois. Somehow, despite the blustering of politicians and the protests of organised labour, great companies like this one have been slipping out of British control.

The British "Brand" has been losing steam for a while now, but things have really accelerated in the past decade, with the loss, as noted above, of all the great British motoring brands with the exception Rolls Royce.

So what does the British Brand stand for, anymore? Tea is perhaps one immortal British icon (Twinings, PG Tips), and maybe the Queen. Bass Ale, and within the U.K. fold also Guiness. But doesn't it kind of stop there?

Some aspects of the British Brand are still widely identifiable (well-mannered with a sense of humor, luxury craftsmanship), but they refer to an ever-shrinking cadre of products and brands.

This loss of brand identity is a definite challenge for the U.K., and is something the U.S. is likely to face in the coming decades as well, as its manufacturing base continues to erode and iconic American brands fall into the hands of foreign owners.

I suggest to all my British friends that they sit down and have a serious conversation about how to reverse this trend – over a nice cup of tea, of course.


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