Great British names the world drinks to

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The Independent Online
EVERYONE knows how well America has exported its lifestyle - Marlboro is the world's best-selling cigarette, Coca-Cola its favourite soft drink and Levi's the number one trademark in jeans. But what are British companies famous for internationally?

Getting the world drunk, it seems. A survey of global brand names published by the American magazine Financial World shows only three UK- owned brands ranked in the top 40 - all of them alcoholic.

Tucked back at 22nd place behind clean-living American sneakers (Nike), soup (Campbell) and nappies (Procter & Gamble), behind the fragrant French (L'Oreal cosmetics) and de- caffeinated Swiss (Nestle's Nescafe), is Britain's most valuable brand, Guinness beer, worth some dollars 2.74bn.

Grand Metropolitan's Smirnoff vodka ranks 36th (worth dollars 1.89bn), just ahead of Guinness's Johnnie Walker Red Label scotch (dollars 1.87bn). Further back in the top 100, Gordon's Gin, also owned by Guinness, is rated 67th.

In fact, virtually all the UK-owned brands that made the list - Cadbury chocolates, Grand Met's Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Lipton teas - entail some sort of indulgence frowned upon by nutritionists.

Recent marketing trends have not been kind to brands as a whole, with discount and generic labels taking away big chunks of market share from premium-priced products. Marlboro - at dollars 39.4bn, still the world's most valuable brand - has lost more than 6 per cent of its value in the past year.

Yet the value of the Guinness brand name has soared, according to Financial World's survey, rising 48 per cent from last year's ranking.

The global brand that suffered the worst drop in value turns out to be the only UK-owned one on the list whose consumption is not considered a vice: Grand Met's Green Giant vegetables. The brand is worth about dollars 154m, 65 per cent less than a year ago.