Some Britons fear the sale of their beloved chocolate brand.
Kraft Foods Inc. has sweetened its offer for Cadbury to $19.5 billion, making the company's buyout sound much like a done deal, but for some Britons the deal isn't sweet enough.
"Nearly everything in this country is now owned by foreign companies," lamented Peter on the Daily Mail's message board. In the UK, Cadbury is often thought of as British institution, and its nearly 200 year legacy a source of national pride. London Mayor Boris Johnson dubbed its products the "taste of British childhood," and many customers seem to share his nostalgia. Adding her name to an online petition, Spanish Cadbury enthusiast, Veronica Parra, sympathized with her British peers: "This brand (Cadbury's) is an icon of England (and) a beloved brand all around the world. You are one of the few countries who still have your national identity. Don't sell your soul to Americans!!"
Despite pleas from an army of chocolate lovers and even a government minister, the controversy labeled "The Chocolate Wars" appears to be over with many analysts saying that rival Hershey will not top Krafts' bid. If all does go as planned, Ruth Mortimer over at Marketing Week has some thoughtful advice, for how Kraft can avoid alienating British chocoholics:
The business should take note of Unilever's purchase of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. At the time, there was an outcry that the small brand had been swallowed up by a huge multinational, but consumer complaints seem to have largely fallen away - Unilever has always been careful to run the brand as a separate division (with its own location) and stayed relatively true to the brand's quirky philosophy.
Although the United States may have snatched up Cadbury today, it too has seen beloved brands jump ship. In 2008, Anheuser-Busch took a buyout from the Belgium-Brazilian company InBev for $70 a share. Concerned drinkers and patriots founded Facebook groups and started petitions to prevent the deal but to no avail. The company reportedly caved to significant pressure from major shareholders, including billionaire Warren Buffet, who were frustrated by stagnant stock prices.