Brand bullies.

During the 80s the American hamburger chain, Wendy’s, tried to start up in Australia. They promised fresh ingredients and a salad bar.

On recollection they only lasted about 18 months before they were forced out of the market.

Their advertising was brash, confrontationalist, comparative and it worked.

McDonald’s hated it, but more importantly, so did Coca Cola.

In Australia Pepsi was the soft drink of choice at Wendy’s. However in the southern US, Coca Cola was the main provider for Wendy’s.

It so happened that the Wendy’s franchisee in Australia had both Coca Cola and Wendy’s in the southern US.

As the story goes, the Coca Cola people spoke to the Wendy’s people and ‘asked’ them to stop stirring the pot in Australia or else their Coca Cola franchise might be under threat.

The result was instant, Wendy’s shut up shop and left the country.

During the midst of the Wendy’s campaign a McDonald’s spokesman was reported to have remarked that “Maccas is Maccas, we don’t have fresh beef or salads and that’s the way it’s going to stay”.

Their attitude was arrogant and didn’t take consumer sentiment into consideration.

Just look at what McDonald’s is offering today.

I find that same attitude pervades current US politics.

Over the last few weeks we have witnessed the crisis gripping Egypt.

A revolution that has it’s source in the grass roots of Egyptian society and will ultimately be decided by Egyptians.

As I watch CNN, I see so many American commentators and politicians asking each other, “What can we do to influence the outcome of this issue in Egypt?”

The US government has to realise that these things are out of their control and in fact it is none of their concern in the first place.

This isn’t the 80s when companies or countries could live on the arrogance of their beliefs or doctrines, without considering the thoughts of the community or consumers.

If the Wendy’s Vs McDonald’s scenario was played out today, I am sure, aided with the power of social media and consumer demand, the result would be very different.

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