Now that the year has just about gone through the hourglass and we are one year older and closer to shuffling off this mortal coil, it might be worth it to add some levity by regarding some brand screw-ups for 2010. Handily, Brand Keys has announced its annual list of "marketing misdemeanors." There are few surprises here:
The firm says BP fell from 1st to 7th (last place) on the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Index when a certain submarine well blew its Halliburton-made cap. Brand Keys says that in the United Kingdom the brand had no negative effects, while the financials suggest the brand has lost all of its value in one year.
Then there's Toyota -- which is trying to rebuild sales after the negative PR this year, and last, around recalls as well as allegations that the company's leaders knew the vehicles had problems but didn't do anything to fix them. Brand Keys says the brand has lost almost a quarter of its value. Still, people are shopping Toyota, and the automaker has been using incentives to get them back into its showrooms.
Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, explains that the loyalty index derives from an assessment based on the degree to which brands meet or exceed expectations that hold for the category ideal. "Any of the drops are drops against that," he says. "These are the ones that went through real disasters. It's not an issue of 'that's just mishandling of the brand.' It wasn't marketing that did them in."
Brand Keys also points to Johnson & Johnson, which did a massive recall for cold medicine for infants and children. Plants shuttered and distribution was shattered. The firm said J&J's brand loyalty dropped 30%.
BlackBerry's brand dropped a third the old-fashioned way, because of technology advances from iPhone, Android phones, and Samsung and LG's smartphones.
Passikoff points out that the distance each brand fell depends on how many times it has made mistakes in the past. He says the four brands all had high levels of loyalty and at one time or another -- with the exception of BlackBerry -- were number one in their categories. "Toyota had been number one for a lot of years. Now they are number two or three, but not, say, number twelve," he says.
BP had been number one, and then a series of mishaps preceded this year's fiasco. "Sympathy for them had already been used up. It's not a bottomless well of loyalty and goodwill," says Passikoff. "It's not the caliber of disaster -- it's how many and how often does this happen. There's a reserve of loyalty. It doesn't make you invulnerable, but it does provide a cushion. To some degree, it gives the brand the benefit of the doubt."