Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Le Big Mac: I've seen a lot of stories about the potential European backlash against American products as retaliation for our unilateralist foreign policy (and even written one myself) so I read with interest Daniel Gross's account of a study that provides pretty robust evidence that three quintessentially American brands--Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Nike--are doing pretty well in Europe, thankyou very much.

You'd think that if Europeans were going to pick on anybody, they'd pick on McDonald's, which is unpopular for lots of reasons, not just because it's American. But European sales at all three companies are thriving compared to those of European rivals and compared to their own U.S. sales. In other words, Europeans--like Americans--tell researchers they are going to do something (boycott, buy environmentally friendly products, etc.) and then do nothing.

Of course, the study focuses exclusively on sales. American companies could still be paying a price for the Bush administration's unpopularity in Europe in other ways: recruitment could be down, or recruitment costs higher; planning permission could be more difficult to obtain; the regulatory environment might be more hostile; takeovers might be more difficult to push through. Anyone have any data?


  • At 10:25 AM, Blogger Mike Bawden said…


    I conducted a study of perceptions of US-linked brands about two and a half years ago and found a measurable decline in the "esteem" enjoyed by brands that were closely tied to the USA. Interestingly, Nike was not considered so much a US-linked brand as it was a "Global" brand - as one journalist explained, Nike had done a lot of work in Europe to tie in with football (soccer here in the US), using European stars, etc. As a result, the brand's association with the US was weaker than say, McDonald's who had just come off a promotional campaign in France using Mary Kate and Ashley Olson.

    The survey we did focused on the perceptions of journalists (writers, editors and publishers) abroad and in the US. I might be able to find a summary of the findings if you'd like to review them - but the research is old.

    We conducted the study in advance of our participation in World Trade Week in New York City in 2003 (or 2004, I can't remember to tell the truth).

    Let me know if you'd be interested.

    Best Regards,

    Mike Bawden
    Brand Central Station

    (PS - We met at the ECCO conference in Poland, just in case you were wondering why I'm acting like we know each other. - M.)


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