2012 - Top Buzz Improvers

BP The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 was the largest accidental offshore oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry and it (not surprisingly) continues to impact the perception of the brand today. In 2010, BP Buzz ratings declined over 75 points—transforming the brand from the top spot in the Oil and Gas sector, to the absolute bottom of the category and our entire rankings list. While the brand has still not yet recovered to pre-oil spill levels, and may never regain the top spot in the category, BP ranks as our #1 improver this year and deserves recognition for that accomplishment as they have spent billions on helping the recovery in the Gulf Coast and have revamped the brand and messaging as a result of the crisis.

Perception of Toyota has been an uphill struggle since the vehicle recalls of 2009 to 2011. At the height of the crisis from Jan – March 2010, scores dropped more than 70 points ranking as one of the most significant brand crisis over the last 5 years (and perhaps longer). The brand kicked up its marketing efforts by sponsoring the NCAA March Madness tournament, which gave Toyota a perception lift with college basketball fans in the US. Toyota has also been an industry leader in the hybrid vehicle movement, selling more in the US than any other manufacturer.

MTV has had the third largest Buzz improvement, generating significantly less negative ratings amongst all Adults 18+ through the first 6 months of the year. MTV has continued its history of pushing the cultural envelope with programming that included the controversial ‘Skins’ season, Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnant. Much of MTV’s improvement should also be credited to the explosion in popularity and awareness of the Jersey Shore series and highly publicized spin-off featuring the notorious Snooki and JWow personalities. Also notable is the recent launch of the ‘Power of 12’ this year, an initiative to inform young people about political issues and giving the brand a social activism dimension.

Allstate insurance came in as the fourth biggest improver. It has continued advertising in the sport sector – it is the title sponsor of the Sugar Bowl and sponsors collegiate football. In its TV commercials, Allstate introduced an ironic “Mayhem” character, which has helped propel the brand’s perception. In October 2011, the company acquired Esurance & Answer Financial for $1 billion, Allstate’s biggest buy since 1999.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is the second of three insurers to make it into the improvers list. As healthcare policy remains in the headlines, with the Supreme Court ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in June, Blue Cross Blue Shield Buzz score has risen from 4.5 to 10.

PBS has improved in terms of consumer perception since mid-2011 following a string of successful shows including Sherlock, the first episode reaching an impressive 3.2 million viewers. It might not be a contender for Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC in terms of overall ratings, but PBS perception is highest in the broadcast and cable sector..

Blockbuster saw an improvement of 5.5 points in Buzz from mid-2011. Back in August 2010, the chain reported it would be restructuring after rumors Blockbuster could face bankruptcy. Buzz reached a low point of -14.9 in November 2010, but perception of the brand has consistently been moving upwards since then. Competitors Netflix and Redbox have scores magnitudes higher than Blockbuster though, an indicator the brand still has hurdles to climb to remain relevant to customers.

Dockers gained more attention this year after its spring marketing push which signed Bear Grylls, the star of Man vs. Wild, as the face of the Dockers 2012 campaign. In the first six months of 2012, Dockers spent $3.6 million on advertising. The campaign includes outdoor images of Grylls in Central Park with ads bearing the ongoing tagline “Wear the Pants” which Dockers adopted in 2009.

Buzz for Taco Bell increased when the restaurant teamed up with Doritos to create the Doritos Taco in April 2012. The brand took a hit in January 2011 with a beef content lawsuit – Scores dropped by 17.4 points – but has since recovered pre-lawsuit levels. Nearly 150 million people – half the US population – see a Taco Bell commercial once a week.

Aflac has the second highest Buzz score in the top 10 improvers list behind Insurance category partner Allstate. Aflac’s “spokesduck” is still a feature of the company’s TV commercials and Buzz increased even after the long-serving voiceover, Gilbert Gottfried, was replaced in March 2011.

US Top Buzz Improvers
US Top Buzz Improvers

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 June 2012. The Buzz Improvers chart ranks the brands with the highest increase in Buzz between Jan-June 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.

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