Why corporate America should give a damn

The first two lines of Joan Jett’s 80’s song “Bad Reputation” go like this:

I dont give a damn ’bout my reputation
You’re living in the past—its a new generation

Joan Jett may not give a damn, but corporate America should—it’s hitting them square in the pocketbook.

A recent Harris Interactive poll showed a whopping 71% of consumers say the reputation of corporate America is “poor.”

This is bad news, not just for those companies, but for all marketers.

You see, lack of trust is part of a three-part lethal mix I believe is responsible for the failure of marketing today. The other two ingredients: Information overload, and marketing—as a discipline—is broken.

The 10 Worst Reputations

10) DaimlerChrysler
9) General Motors
8) ChevronTexaco
7) Ford
6) Sprint
5) Comcast
4) Exxon
3) Northwest Airlines
2) Citgo
1) Halliburton

There’s some good news from the survey, though: Companies that care are being rewarded by consumers that will “buy, recommend and invest in companies that concentrate on building their corporate reputation.”

Robert Fronk, Senior Vice President and Senior Consultant of Reputation Strategy at Harris Interactive:

What the RQ survey has shown in recent years is that companies that pay attention to enhancing their reputation see bottom line results. The companies with a good reputation have stayed near the top of the list and those with bad reputations have gotten worse.

The 10 Best Reputations

1) Google
2) Johnson & Johnson
3) Intel
4) General Mills
5) Kraft
6) Berkshire Hathaway
7) 3M
8) Coca-Cola
9) Honda
10) Microsoft

Google is first. Halliburton is last.

Go figure.

To see how everyone else fared, view a PDF of the reputations of the 60 most visible companies from Harris Interactive.

Consumers are now in control. With plenty of choices and the information and transparency necessary to make socially conscious buying decisions, 71% of corporate America needs to wake up and smell the organic fairtrade, shade-grown coffee.

Are they “living in the past—it’s a new generation?”

Two questions:

1) Are there any surprises on either list?
2) What do you think corporate America can do to restore consumer trust?

Comment below to weigh in.

. . .

I know you can’t get “Bad Reputation” out of your head.
Go ahead. Give in. You know you want to watch it.

Hey, at least it isn’t “Crimson and Clover!”

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Deston says:

    I’ve been enjoying the WORST COMPANIES poll in http://www.consumerist.com. Amazed that Countrywide, American Airlines and Wal Mart weren’t listed in the above survey. And check out this nugget from Bank of America:

    One Consumerist reader used his Bank of America credit card to pay $2 on a parking meter in Washington, DC. Bank of America treated it as a cash advance and slapped him with a $10 fee, as well as a higher APR. When Gary called to complain, he learned that it wasn’t an error: Bank of America has started treating payments to parking meters as cash advances and may even treat all payments to government entities as cash advances.

  • One problem with most reputation assessments is that they tend to roll everything up into one uber “Reputation” . This can be quite misleading, since a company’s reputation has many aspects. To some people, what’s most important is how a company treats its communities, the environment and society in general. To others, its product quality and service or, of course, financial performance.

    We just launched a site ( Vanno ) that uses social media methods to track many different aspects of company reputation (23 at this moment). Unlike most surveys/polls, at Vanno you can explicitly see all the information that goes into the reputation evaluation. And if you disagree (or agree) you can add your own insight – by voting, commenting and submitting Articles.

    If you find this sort of stuff interesting, we invite you to check us out – compare our users’ take on some of the Harris poll companies ( Berkshire Hathaway and Apple ) for a different perspective.

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