Revealed: who really owns your favorite brands
WHO’S REALLY BEHIND THE LABEL?
You might not know it but some of our favorite brands are owned by some of the world’s biggest organizations. From skincare products to organic foods, we look at the REAL names behind the brands we love.
STACY’S PITA CHIPS: PEPSICO
Aside from selling fizzy drinks, PepsiCo is also a multinational food and beverage company and owns dozens of brands. Among them is Stacy’s Pita Chips, which was acquired by the firm in 2006 for $250 million (£192m), joining a long list of organic companies to be accused of selling out to the mainstream market.
Disney bought ABC in 1996 after years of trying to poach the broadcaster through a number of deals. ABC originally helped Disney to fund the building of Disneyland, in exchange for a weekly Sunday night show, which was also called Disneyland. ABC then went onto air The Mickey Mouse Club and, years later, sell itself to Disney for around $19 billion (£15bn).
ABC purchased ESPN in 1984, meaning that when Disney took ABC on board ESPN was a bit of a freebie for Disney. The cost of the deal isn’t clear, but in 2014 ESPN was worth over $50 billion (£39bn) alone and was also named as the world’s most valuable media company by Forbes, so we imagine it was quite pricey!
MRS. MEYER’S: SC JOHNSON
Household cleaning product company Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, which markets itself as being ‘earth-friendly’, was originally produced by the Caldrea company, but was later acquired by SC Johnson, the global cleaning product supplier.
BURT’S BEES: CLOROX
Another ‘earth-friendly’ skincare brand to have sold itself to a larger corporation is Burt’s Bees, which was bought by Clorox in 2007 for $913 million (£703m). At the time, sceptics worried the acquisition would affect the ethical nature of Burt’s Bees, but it soon emerged that Burt’s had actually helped to enhance the sustainability of Clorox and push for more sustainable sourcing of ingredients.
BEN & JERRY’S: UNILEVER
World famous ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s sold itself to multinational giant Unilever in 2001, but was instantly criticized for selling out.
SEEDS OF CHANGE: MARS
Also creeping into the list of organic companies to sell out to large corporations is Seeds of Change, an organic seed and food company, which sold itself to Mars in 1997 for an undisclosed amount.
NAKED JUICE: PEPSICO
Eager to keep its brand range looking balanced with a portfolio of healthy products, PepsiCo bought Naked Juice in 2007. The acquisition also took place with the aim of competing with Coca-Cola’s 2001 purchase of fellow juice brand Odwalla. Coca-Cola’s purchase cost $181 million (£139m), while PepsiCo’s purchase was estimated to cost around $450 million (£346m).
SIMPLE SKINCARE: UNILEVER
Simple Skincare was acquired by Unilever back in 2010, adding to Unilever’s vast range of hugely-successful brands. Simple was originally bought by Alberto-Culver in December 2009, but Unilever snatched it up just six months later for $3.7 billion (£2.3bn).
Like most brands owned by PepsiCo, you wouldn’t necessarily associate Quaker with the fizzy drink giant. But PepsiCo acquired the oats company back in 2001 because it wanted to add Quaker’s subsidiary Gatorade to its collection of sports drinks. Like Naked Juice, Quaker has also provided balance for the brand, as it serves as a healthier subsidiary to that of the likes of Frito-Lay, which owns a number of salty (and unhealthy) snacks.
ANNIE’S HOMEGROWN: GENERAL MILLS
Annie’s, the natural and organic specialty food maker, made the leap away from the individual market after General Mills bought the Berkeley-based firm in 2014 for $820 million (£631m).
EVOLUTION FRESH: STARBUCKS
Jimmy Rosenberg, who also founded Naked Juice, sold his other juice brand Evolution Fresh to Starbucks for $39 million (£30m) in 2011. Starbucks opened its first Evolution Fresh store in March 2012, but the enterprise came among concerns that the juice stores would have much lower margins than Starbucks’ coffee shops in a highly competitive market.
HONEST TEA: COCA-COLA
The fizzy drink giant purchased Honest Tea in 2011 for an undisclosed sum of money. This move triggered a number of calls to boycott the tea brand after its new parent, Coca-Cola, donated money to defeat Proposition 37 – the GMO labeling initiative in California, which would have required brands to label medically-engineered food.
WOLFGANG PUCK: CAMPBELL’S
Campbell’s bought the Wolfgang Puck soup business in 2008 in an agreement that allowa Campbell’s to use the brand on soup, stock and broth products. Although the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Wolfgang Puck had sales of around $22 million ($17m) in the year before.
CASCADIAN FARM: GENERAL MILLS
Organic cereal brand Cascadian Farm was also poached by General Mills for an undisclosed figure in 1999. But much like many other organic brands, the sale was controversial.
Mondalez, formerly Kraft, bought Cadbury in 2010 for $15 billion (£11.5bn). The deal was made under controversial circumstances, however, as Cadbury had previously been resistant to the takeover due to feeling “undervalued”. Kraft had launched a bid to pursue the UK chocolate manufacturer in 2009 as it was the last necessary component to allow Kraft to split off into two companies: a grocery business worth $16 billion (£12bn) and a global snacks business worth $32 billion (£25bn).
AVEENO: JOHNSON AND JOHNSON
Skin care brand Aveeno was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1999 for an undisclosed amount. Like many subsidiaries of the healthcare giant, Aveeno came under fire when Johnson & Johnson was accused of including potentially cancer-causing chemicals in some of its baby products.
Adding to its range of healthier drinks, Coca-Cola also purchased Vitaminwater as part of the acquisition of Energy Brands, an enhanced water distributer. The company sold for around $4.1 billion (£3.2bn) in cash, but Coca-Cola later faced a lawsuit about claims it was misleading buyers by claiming Vitaminwater was a “healthy drink”.