Sometimes, when we’re out shopping or surfing online, we randomly choose certain products over other. While we may think that we’re consciously choosing one company over another, rarely do we consider which companies we’re actually buying from. Unbeknownst to many, the phenomenon of a Multi-brand strategy is one of the well-known company secrets. It means that certain businesses are deliberately launching new brands to compete against their own.
So, while saying that only a few companies really profit from us makes me sound like a tinfoil-hat-wearing nut-job who thinks all royalty are secretly lizard people. It’s actually true in an unbelievable amount of cases. I’ve done my research and here are 9 of, what I think, are the most interesting examples…
9) Most Cinemas
We all love the cinema. But, for some people, those big chains are a little too much with their screaming kids, popcorn stench and nothing but blockbuster action films.
A lot of people prefer the smaller experience; a nice small cinema where it’s quieter, cheaper and you can watch a wider range of kookier, smaller films. That’s great. The bad news for people who REALLY want to avoid the mega chains, is most independent cinemas are owned by big chains. Most notable of these is Picture House.
So, Picture House openly presents themselves as a chain, but a small chain. A chain that’s all about indie and art house films. But, the truth is Cineworld owns them and this is their way of roping in fans that normally wouldn’t want to go to something like a Cineworld.
Feeling cynical about the world of business yet? It gets worse guys. Time for the big dogs!
8) MAD Magazine
You may be familiar with MAD Magazine. For those not, it’s a hugely popular satirical magazine that takes no prisoners and was a huge inspiration for the likes of Matt Groening, Judd Apatow and Seth MacFarlane.
MAD is anti establishment, raucous and the first taste many kids get of challenging ideas. That’s why it’s so odd that it’s owned by, none other than, DC Entertainment! That’s right! The same company who owns family-friendly Clark Kent owns the most anti-establishment comic out there! Devastating company secrets for all the fans!
Most interesting of all, MAD Magazine produced a spoof called Good Night Batcave. It’s a fun pastiche on children’s books starring Batman. But oddly, they billed it as “100% Unauthorized” as part of their anti-establishment image. But, DC owns both Batman AND MAD. So, that spoof was COMPLETELY authorized!
That’s just one company making fun of something they own and then CLAIMING it’s unauthorized. Not quite as punk as they want you to think…
7) MindGeek Owning Porn – Nasty Company Secrets
At first glance, Mind Geek seems like your normal online operation. They’re one of those companies with fingers in a lot of pies. They own the comedy site VideoBash and the gossip site CelebNews. They state that they and this is a direct quote from their website…
That’s a posh way of saying “we own ALL the porn. Like… ALL the porn.” For real, MindGeek owns an overwhelming majority of the Internet’s pornography. Here’s a list of the sites they own, and let’s be honest, you’re probably familiar with some of them.
So, when you accept that the Internet is mainly pornography and cat videos, these guys basically own half the Internet: the non-cat half. This one company alone owns 6 pornography studios, co-owns another and manages the websites for 2 more. They even manage Playboy’s online and TV operations and own 4 sites dedicated to reality pornography. If you want to pretend you don’t know what that is… it’s professional pornography designed to look amateur.
And, if that wasn’t enough, they own PornHub and, therefore, every single site that’s part of the PornHub network. That’s a lot of porn. That’s more porn vids than there are stars in the universe…
With a name like MindGeek, you think these guys were some kind of Silicon Valley style gang developing cool tech for the future. But, they’re more like the Walt Disney of adult entertainment…
6) Tom’s of Maine
The more delicate among you may have felt a touch uncomfortable with me stating the word “Porn” so much, so let’s go for something nice and clean. Good old-fashioned toothpaste. In particular: Tom’s of Maine.
We all know Tom’s of Maine; it’s a reliable small brand that prides itself on its ethical approach. No artificial ingredients. No testing on animals. Not a single part of their process is bad for the environment.
Yet they’re owned by Colgate! Seriously! You want to trust the little guy for making ethical products, then it turns out they’re just a division of the big guy so they can also take money from the hippies who only want the ethical stuff!
5) Blue Moon
You know Blue Moon? The humble little indie beer we all love for being hand crafted and authentic?
Turns out it’s owned by Coors and is merely marketed to look humble, indie and hand crafted. Some of the stuff on this list of company secrets you can’t get TOO frustrated about. Tom’s of Maine, for example, did at least begin as a nice indie operation until Colgate sucked them in like a money vacuum. But, Blue Moon has always been Coors’ attempt to get money out of guys who didn’t want to buy mainstream beer and would rather get a small craft beer.
Every part of the marketing and labeling is about tricking you into thinking Blue Moon is independent, to the point that you won’t find the word Coors on it ANYWHERE, which actually caused Coors a little bit of bother as you can imagine.
The Brewers Association, which sounds like a great name for a team of drunken super heroes, took Coors to task over not mentioning on the Blue Moon label that it was one of their products. The Brewers Association felt this was a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers who may not want to buy mass produced products into doing exactly that.
An everyday bloke from California even sued them for quote unquote “tricking” him into buying some back in 2015.
4) Disney Owning Mass Media
It surely one of the big company secrets but not very surprising. At this point in time it’s kinda easier to tell you what Disney doesn’t own. So, I‘m just gonna chat about some of the lesser known ones. Because the list of stuff Disney owns is longer than a marathon of Lord of the Rings films. Yes: Including the Hobbit trilogy. And yes: Extended editions.
So, we all know the big stuff. They own Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm. But, their claws reach further than that! Disney owns a whole bunch of different channels and one of the most surprising is The History Channel. That’s right! Your historical information is provided courtesy of good old Uncle Walt.
But even more shocking than that… There’s a small production company, chances are you’ve never heard of them: Maker Studios. These guys produce really high quality content for YouTube, honestly excellent stuff. Now, one of their most famous series is Epic Rap Battles of History.
Well, Disney owns Maker Studios so, that’s right, Disney partly owns Epic Rap Battles of History. It’s shocking. But, what’s cool is the guys even reference it. Check out their Stan Lee Vs. Jim Henson video and listen out for a little self-mocking near the end.
Pepsi owns almost everything. For real – I’m serious. Check your birth certificate, they might own you. Among the billion things they own, one of the most interesting is Naked. As in… the smoothie…. It seems weird for the peddlers of fizzy teeth rotting liquid to also put out a product that claims to be super healthy. But, they do.
And seriously, if you look into it, what you’ll find is Pepsi or Coca Cola owns almost every drink. Since Cola has a 90% stake in Innocent Smoothies, Pepsi therefore competes with Naked. Cola owns Oasis soft drinks so Pepsi competes by owning Tropicana.
And, it’s not just drinks that Pepsi likes to own. You know good old friendly Quaker’s oats? Apparently created by the Quaker’s themselves? Nonsense. It’s Pepsi.
If it’s a liquid, Coca Cola or Pepsi own it and I guess porridge is almost a liquid so it counts! Just watch out guys. Your blood is a liquid. Pepsi might come after that next!
2) Coca Cola – Big Company Secrets
Having just touched on it then when talking about Pepsi, lets dig in a little more about Coca Cola. These guys are giants. I mentioned they own Innocent Smoothies. Well, they own the whole Innocent brand, including Innocent Tea.
The innocent brand is all about kookiness and a “home made feel” with the little hats for their drinks, which is why it’s so gutting they’re 90% owned by a massive chain. But, these company secrets are no surprise really. The list of things Coca Cola owns rivals Pepsi. I could’ve written a separate article on that! There’s Fanta, Barq’s, Swerve, Odwalla, even the South African coffee Chaywa.
If it’s a drink you name it, Coca Cola probably owns it. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pepsi & Coca Cola soon own the 7 oceans between them.
You know Nestle? Of course you know Nestle! We all know Nestle. They make chocolate, don’t they? That’s what they do. Wait. Hold on to find out their company secrets.
They also own California Pizza Kitchen. Sadly, this doesn’t mean they’re the first people to ever make a chocolate pizza combo: as much as I want that to happen, that’s still a pipe dream. A disgusting, disgusting, disgusting pipe dream! But still one I’d eat.
You’ve probably guessed by now, but it’s not just California Pizza Kitchen that Nestle owns. I’d given you the list of everything Nestle owns but that’d take longer than the entire education process. Seriously. It’s truly indescribable; read this!
At the time of this article, Nestle owns 23 cereals brands, 12 yogurt brands, 22 coffee chains, 72 brands of water, 22 other companies, 37 Ice cream chains, 22 brands of infant food, 22 nutrition products, 13 brands of frozen food and 27 Pet care brands.
And, that’s just the stuff I could find on a quick research, there’s bound to be TONNES more. They own all of that and I don’t even own a matching pair of socks.
Normally, at this point I’d say something like “comment below if you know some company secrets like huge corporations secretly owning small brands”. But, to be honest, I think to make it more challenging I should say, “comment below if you know of any small product that is ACTUALLY AUTHENTICALLY independent”. If you know of anything that isn’t actually a property of Nestle, Pepsi or Disney – let me know down below!