Flying the Corporate Colors

Oh what a wicked web of deceit is weaved by corporations promoting their global brands in an area of global unrest!

Take French's Mustard. After the Bushites and their right-wing political henchmen began to demonize french fries, french toast, and all things French in a stunningly stupid outburst of knuckle-dragging jingoism, this maker of the common yellow mustard put out a nativist press release declaring: "The only thing French about French's Mustard is the name!"

The corporation's press release spoke of founder Robert French's "all-American dream," and about the mustard's iconic connection to hot dogs at baseball games, America's national pastime. What the PR effort did not mention is that French's Mustard is no longer American; it's owned by the British conglomerate, Reckitt Benckiser PLC.

And while French's was furiously waving the American flag here, it also was concerned that it not actually offend the French. After all, Reckitt Benckiser does more business in Europe than in the U.S., so the corporation only released its "All-American" boast in the U.S. -- taking care to keep it off the corporate web site, since the French might see it there. "We are not anti-French," a flustered spokeswoman rushed out to say when word of French's anti-French statement spread. She added that, "We issued the press release in response to some confusion that was going on." Oh, thanks for clearing that up for us.

Meanwhile, such "We're America!" brand-names as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and McDonald's are suddenly trying to cloak their Americanism. For example in India, with its large Muslim population, Coke is trying to fend off angry protests against Bush's reach for empire by emphasizing its Indianness: "We are primarily Indian, employing Indians," insisted a top executive of the corporation's subsidiary there.

It all reveals yet again that the true color of corporate America is not red, white, and blue -- but the color of money.

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