Marketing: Branding America

Why on earth are U.S. companies handing out diplomacy guides?

If a fine antenna for the political mood were all you needed to create a successful consumer brand, Tawfik Mathlouti would be a happy man by now. Mathlouti is a French Muslim lawyer who vigorously opposes U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and believes the world should protest it by boycotting American products. In the fall of 2002, he began marketing Mecca-Cola, a distinctly non-American imitation of Coca-Cola, in France, Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

The timing, a few months before the invasion of Iraq, seemed perfect. Polls showed that many Europeans were upset with the U.S. and less inclined...

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