The British public have already demonstrated fierce opposition via Facebook groups, protests and even a “Keep Cadbury British” campaign by the Daily Mail, which all deplore the deal, arguing that the large American corporation Kraft could destroy the British brand, should the bid be accepted. It’s an interesting reaction. The ultimate corporate power behind the brands we love hasn’t been much of a concern in the past. Most of us would be hard pressed to associate Persil or Flora with Anglo-Dutch giant, Unilever, for example; or, for that matter, to see any special significance in Proctor & Gamble’s ability to manufacture and market both Pringles crisps and Head & Shoulders shampoo. But this is changing, and changing fast. The growth of a new breed of entrepreneurial brands such as Innocent and Green & Blacks, which have been built in large part by their appeal to an emerging “no-logo generation”, keen to support the little guy against the industrial-scale behemoths, have created a British distaste for the very values upon which Kraft is based. Should Cadbury accept the corporate dollar, it will inevitably call into question the independence and moral principles of philanthropic Cadbury. At worst, it could appear as a wholesale abandonment of Cadbury’s founding principles. This abandonment has the potential to cause once-loyal Cadbury consumers to reject the brand’s relocation to the Global Village.
On the other hand, Cadbury’s chocolate is hitching up in price. This move is a dangerous one, in a period when competitors are cutting prices and people are searching for value for money, Cadburys followers could more easily be swayed elsewhere.
The question is who is the best suitor – and how much more value can Cadbury add to its share price? Perhaps the old favourite British brand has played a exquisitely “crafty” ( sorry about that) game simply to get global recognition. In reality the issue is there just aren’t any British suitors, so perhaps Cadbury entering the Global Village is just something we all need to accept. But let’s face it: we Brits are a fickle and eccentric bunch. British banks – who cares? British car manufacturers – a glimmer of nostalgia. But chocolate… don’t mess with our chocolate!Mark Artus is CEO of £8m-turnover brand agency 1HQ, founded in 1993
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