UK based Diageo (Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, José Cuervo, Guinness, etc.) is acquiring Mey İçki in a deal valued at 2.1 billion USD. In Turkey. Yes. Yes, I said billion. For a Turkish company producing anise flavored alcohol.
Are you scratching your head? (Come on, even I was surprised at the figure!) The insanely popular Yeni Rakı (rock-uh) is only part of the reason.
Diageo apparently plans on investing in growth markets to add value for shareholders. The company cites the young, urban, rapidly growing middle class in Turkey as a main factor for choosing Mey. A second reason is that rakı is traditionally consumed with meze, the Turkish equivalent of appetizers or tapas. Can't do that with Johnnie Walker, so it's really an opportunity to pitch other Diageo owned alcoholic beverages to the Turkish market using already established channels. (Huh! A Trojan horse. Except they're using our horse. Hmmm... sneaky.)
Rakı drinkers have also gradually begun try the local vodka (Istanblue is a Mey brand) because people who drink one are likely to imbibe in the other, which is part three of the plan. Diageo wants to cross-sell rakı into Russia. Why not? Good rakı can burn the hair out of your nose just as fast as vodka can. (I can say this because I'm part Polish AND married to a Turk. ;))
Plus, have you seen the tourists in Turkey? Summer clubbing in a resort town is one of the best things in life for a young European. Diageo might like a bigger piece of that!
PS. Turks call rakı aslan sütü (lion's milk) because when mixed with water it turns a milky white and of course it has a bite. If you're writing a book about modern Turkey, you might want to have a scene with some rakı in it.
An aside: I'm not writing posts about alcohol for any particular reason. (*ahem* querying here.) These things keep coming up and I'm very happy Turkey is getting noticed. I just want to share the news. :)
Thought I'd post a couple commercials for you.
Here's a funny one, even if it's overtly made for a male audience.