Damn Yankees

American brands are sparking enduring trends abroad. So why do they hate us for it?
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You've heard it: Americans are boorish. We know little about history and want to make the globe one big . People worldwide are fighting the perceived threat of Americanism.

In 1999, a in France was torn down by farm equipment. The windows of a McDonald's in , , were smashed at January 2000's . Now China is condemning for its presence in 's Forbidden City, and the British press ridicules the chain, saying it capitalizes on "the precious pickiness of American and offer[s] you more coffees than you need."

So we just can't win, eh? Well, the success of top American brands abroad says we can-and that's the problem. "If there is cultural imperialism, it is definitely American," says John Quelch, dean and professor of at the London School. Quelch says a level of anti-American sentiment has existed around the world since the '60s. It's more prevalent among consumers than in the B2B world because, Quelch says, it's an "emotionally founded hostility" not grounded in economic reality. Many overseas consumers deliberately buy local products over American ones , and U.S. brands work around that by partnering with or buying stakes in foreign brands.

Any exceptions? "Any that's predicated on technological and is differentiated and superior," says Quelch, "can expand globally very effectively using the Internet as a vehicle for promotion."


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