"Believe" Brand Suicide in Scotland?

BelieveBar.jpgI'm just back from Scotland on vacation and can't help but note a brand story that came up again and again during my visit. Mars' Mars Bar -- popular enough in Scotland to have spawned the renowned deep fried Mars Bar -- has rebranded as "Believe" in the UK for the 2006 World Cup season. Mostly, the change is aimed at fueling hopes for England's bid for the championship, in a year in which they're thought to have a chance. (See Web site here.) But the "Believe" bars are being marketed in Scotland, too, where the favorite pastime is rooting for England's opponent. (Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup.) Again and again, I heard people express outrage at the slight. Most said they'd stopped buying the candy in protest. One shopkeeper said he'd been trying to stock bars without the "Believe" branding. T-shirts with a send-up of the controversy, reading "Believe? Ma Arse" are reportedly selling like crazy.

Yes, England is a much bigger market, but why rebrand in such a way as to alienate Scotland (and Wales and Northern Ireland)? And knowing the Scots, they're certain to hold a grudge well beyond when the candy changes back to its previous name.