Nothing ignites American patriotism quite like the foreign acquisition of a beloved brand.
So yesterday, when Japanese liquor giant Suntory announced it is purchasing Beam Inc. — which distills Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark — Americans did the only thing that seemed right. They complained on social media.
And people hit Beam where it hurt, by threatening to switch to Jack Daniel’s.
Jim Beam sold to a Japanese company??? C’mon people, this is Merica!!! Jack Daniels would never pull that crap…
— Michael M (@pghmike78) January 14, 2014
Jim Beam bought out by Japan company for 13 billion. Smh I will never drink that shit. That’s why I always drank Jack Daniels!
— Devin (@TheDevinHenson) January 14, 2014
Jim beam bought by a japanese company. 1 more reason 2 drink Jack Daniels. .
— Harlan Steinle (@hlsteinle) January 14, 2014
Makers mark and jim beam are now owned by a giant Japanese company. Looks like jack Daniels is my new favourite whiskey
— Alex Julius (@zanderjulius) January 14, 2014
Switching back to Jack Daniels. Jim Beam now owned by a foreign company..
— Mark Tumini (@MarkTumini) January 14, 2014
Some Japanese people have bought out Jim Beam. Everybody start buying Jack Daniels.
— William Cox (@wcox15) January 13, 2014
Jim Beam being bought by a Japanese Company?? Well there goes my Egg Nog! Switching to Jack Daniels.
— Chris Hines (@ironaggie) January 13, 2014
There’s a lot more where that came from on Beam’s Facebook page.
This style of nationalism might be a little misplaced. Shouldn’t we be proud that foreign companies want to buy American brands? Presumably, Suntory bought Jim Beam because they liked it. It’s the same reason that Budweiser still feels pretty American years after it merged with Belgian InBev.
Plus, people might be surprised to learn what’s already foreign-owned.
“Consider 7-11 stores, Popsicle ice pops, and Frigidaire appliances,” writes the New Yorker’s Vauhini Vara. “All American icons that are owned, respectively, by Japanese, Anglo-Dutch, and Swedish companies.” From the New Yorker:
Certain brands serve as especially potent symbols of American culture; Budweiser and Jim Beam, each more than a century old, are among them. When foreign companies move to acquire such brands, it naturally triggers a cultural anxiety about the decline of American influence. (In a December report, the Pew Research Center found that more than half of the people it surveyed believed that the U.S. “plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.”)
And as Vara notes, if anything, Suntory wants to spread American whiskey to the rest of the world. Maybe that should be a source of pride.
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