Friday, February 24, 2012

Is St. Louis where brands go to die?

Okay,  maybe that headline is a little harsh. But the closing of Casa Gallardo restaurants got me thinking. I know, many successful brands owe a lot to St. Louis. In fact, in many cases, thier very success made it possible for the acquisition by another company to be bigger and better. Brand equity is important, but when the going gets tough that equity is for sale I guess.

Post is the number three cereal maker and is now looking to challenge Kellogg’s and General Mills. (I hope this brand can win share from it's St. Louis base of operations.) Ya know, we had Duncan Hines, Lender’s Bagels, Aunt Jemima until a New Jersey food company decided to adopt those orphan brands. And Anheuser-Busch is doing their best to pump life into the King of Beers but you have to wonder if InBev is really all that worried about Budweiser. (Is AB really a St. Louis company anymore? They didn’t seem to lose any sleep over Grant’s Farm.) Thermadyne has grown through acquisition of industry leading brands in metalworking and welding hard goods like Tweco, Victor and Arcair. (But those brands routinely face challenges from giants ITW/Milller, Lincoln and ESAB). And what happened to D’Arcy, an advertising agency with a long and proud history in St. Louis when they became part of a giant media/communication company based out of town?

St. Louisians remember the irreverent but approachable Boatmen’s Guy played by Thom Sharp. (Thom is back but not for Boatmen’s Bank because Boatmen’s has long since been swallowed by what is today Bank of America.) And I can almost hear Jack Buck talking about Southwestern Bell during a baseball broadcast as the telephone people were plotting to resurrect AT&T. (AT&T is the monopoly the government broke up in 1984 – How did St. Louis manage to lose out on that deal? Is it because we didn’t let their CEO into one of our exclusive country clubs?) McDonnell Douglas aircraft was the pride of our town, yet we seem to have accepted Boeing as our aviation company today. And speaking of aviation, how about TWA?   

Sure we have our success stories: Build-A-Bear, Zhu Zhu Pets, St. Louis Bread Company (Which, by the way, is Panera everywhere else), Edward Jones (Not A.G. Edwards) and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Our brands never seem completely safe.

I wonder what it will take to keep the NFL Rams in St. Louis?    


  1. PET food products, The St. Louis Football Cardinals, The St. Louis Browns baseball team, The Adam's Mark Hotels and the list goes on and on.