In the wake of Carnival Cruise Lines’ recent “Triumph mishap,” the brand has experienced one of the steepest drops in consumer perception for a brand since the twin crises of BP and Toyota in 2010.
YouGov BrandIndex measured Carnival, BP and Toyota using its Buzz score, determined by asking respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
At the beginning of February Carnival was tracking at a 6 point Buzz score in the US. By February 25th, the score had dropped nearly 50 points to -43, on a par with Toyota in early February 2010 and BP in mid-May 2010. Toyota would go on to hit its Buzz score bottom one week later at -63 while BP would reach its nadir of -76 toward the end of June, nearly two months after the sinking of its Deep Water Horizon oil rig.
It took until October 2010 for Toyota to stage a recovery, but it has yet to reach the same Buzz score as before its recall crisis. BP’s comeback has been much slower – the oil company reached a Buzz score of 2 last September and currently tracks at -8 with the advent of their trial.
To put the Triumph incident’s impact in brand perspective, it’s worth looking at two previous major Carnival crises over the past 18 months. When Carnival-owned Costa Concordia’s shipwreck took place off the coast of Italy in January 2012, its Buzz score declined from 6 to -23 over the course of seven weeks, equaling a loss of 29 points. It took Carnival four months to bounce back to close to where it was pre-crisis.
When a fire disabled Carnival’s Splendor ship for four days off the coast of Mexico before being towed into San Diego in November 2011, the brand’s Buzz score tumbled from 8 down to -26, marking a bigger drop of 34 points. Recovery took three months.
By comparison, Carnival has fallen 49 points in its current crises.