Our top Buzz improver of the year, BP, has been on a long road to recovery since 2010, when a leak at its Deepwater Horizon drilling platform became the largest accidental release of oil in marine waters in history. While the litigation still carries on, BP has made great progress in perception thanks in part to the company's extensive campaign to help recover the Gulf Coast. After a 75 point fall in 2010, the company's end of year Buzz score, -4.7, is seemingly within a hair's breadth of positive territory.
While Toyota’s brand over the last several years has been besmirched by lawsuits, recalls and production shortages, the company found its stride again in 2012. On the sales front, the company is perched to reclaim its title as the leader in worldwide auto-sales and its wildly popular hybrid, the Prius, sold 236,000 cars, the highest ever total for the line and even became the best-selling car overall in California. The company has also pursued some notable advertising ventures, especially in the domain of sports. The company sponsors the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and has a much anticipated spot in February's Superbowl.
Despite an FDA investigation into energy drinks, Monster's Buzz gains over the past year show that it is a brand here to stay. Following in a well-established tradition for energy drinks, Monster has helped build its brand through sponsoring sporting events both in and out of the mainstream. On the one hand, Monster has sponsored both the Los Angeles Angels and the team of NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, while on the other hand, it announced a long term partnership with the far more obscure Professional Bull Riders, Inc. this past year.
Although MTV's overall Buzz score remains negative among all adults 18+, the channel has seen its Buzz scores consistently rise over the past year and a half. This trend has continued even with the departure of some of the channel's biggest hits, such as "Jersey Shore" and "Sixteen and Pregnant", and puts the network in a strong position as it releases its new crop of shows. The debut of its new reality offering, "Buckwild", surpassed the ratings of “Jersey Shore”'s debut and the November hiring of programming chief Susanne Daniels, who has experience with both Lifetime and The WB, could bolster the network's scripted roster.
Allstate, the nation's largest publically owned insurance company, has further strengthened its position in perception in 2012, raising its Buzz score to 22.2, the highest of any company on the improvers list. The insurer continued several fruitful advertising partnerships this past year, remaining the title sponsor of college football's Sugar Bowl, as it has been since 2007. It also released several more spots in its popular "Mayhem" campaign, which feature actor Dean Winters portraying a personification of Mayhem.
6 Blue Cross Blue Shield
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association comes in at number six on our list. In a year when healthcare policy has made major headlines, both on the campaign trail and with the Supreme Court ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in June, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, has seen its Buzz score rise from 6.1 to 11.1.
Financial services giant ING improved its Buzz score over the course of 2012 from 3.6 to 8.1. The company is a major sponsor of sporting events and the arts and was able to avoid fallout when controversy erupted over one of the events they sponsor: the New York Marathon. After the race was cancelled, ING declared that it fully supported the decision to cancel and would donate $500,000 to storm relief.
8 Taco Bell
Taco Bell Buzz has continued to increase over the past year, buoyed by an active social media presence and an innovative take on Mexican cuisine, exemplified by menu items like Doritos Tacos and its bilingual slogan " Live Más". While the brand took a dive in 2011 after a lawsuit regarding the beef content of its meat, the company has long since rebounded and looks to make another strong showing in 2013 with a much-hyped spot during the Superbowl and a potential new dollar menu.
Oil company Exxon has successfully managed to rebuild its perception since 2011 when a combination of high gas prices and record profits stoked anger against the company and pushed Buzz scores to the lowest point they have been over the last three years. With the help of lower gas prices, the company managed to post end of year 2012 Buzz scores which are near the highest they’ve been in recent years.
Citibank rounds out our list of top Buzz improvers of 2012. While retail bank perception scores have suffered since the start of the financial crisis, Citibank’s Buzz scores is now at the highest it has been since 2008. Notably, Citibank rolled out a number of memorable ads over the course of 2012, including one featuring breathtaking panoramic shots of a rock-climber and another with musician Alicia Keys.
These brands were rated using YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score which asks 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?"
The Buzz Rankings chart shows the brands with the highest average Buzz scores between January and December 2012. The Buzz Improvers chart ranks the brands with the highest increase in Buzz between Jan-Dec 2012 and the same period in 2011. Both scores are representative of the general population.
All Buzz scores listed have been rounded to a single decimal place, however, we have used additional precision to assign ranks.