Following the oil spill, the past two weeks have seen tensions rise in US-UK relations: Obama is accused of anti-British sentiment and criticism is leveled at BP CEO Tony Hayward of callousness in the face of the environmental disaster. This has had a knock-on effect on brand perception of not only the oil companies themselves, but also how consumers in the US and UK view the handling of the crisis on both sides of the Atlantic.
BP's 'Index' score in the US, an aggregate of Quality, Satisfaction, Recommend, Value, Reputation and Impression, was considerably higher than its score in Britain during April, hitting 15.1 on 22nd compared to a steady score of 6 to 7 in the UK in the same period. However, the US score has since plummeted to a low of -26.0 on the 14th of June. The UK score has witnessed a lesser decline, currently standing at -10.7. When looking at BP's Satisfaction score, a measure of how satisfied consumers are with a brand, this has also fallen sharply in the US following the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's US score was higher than its score in Britain during April, hitting 19.1 on 26th compared to a steady score of 7 to 8 in the UK in the same period. As the situation has got worse, the US Satisfaction score has also declined, falling to a low of -13.9 on the 11th of June while the UK score has witnessed only a slight decline, currently standing at 4.3.
Looking at three other US petroleum giants – Chevron, Shell and Exxon, whose 'Index' scores have been steady since April – these declines look to be confined to the BP brand rather than affecting the sector as a whole. Only ExxonMobil has had a slight drop, from 5.1 on 2nd April to 0.3 on 18th April.
BrandIndex has also shown a clear difference in how the UK and the US perceive other British businesses. The US 'Impression' scores of the British bank, Barclays, have dipped below- 6 for the first time since February, in contrast to the UK score which has seen its score rising since the beginning of May to 1.7 on 14th June.
With many in Britain fearing contagion from the Eurozone Crisis, perhaps the deterioration of the US perception of British business should also be monitored, as another potential threat to the UK's economic recovery.