Here’s A List Of The Least Despised U.S. Brands

On Wednesday, AdWeek ran an article titled, The Best Perceived Brands of 2013It was a recap of a recent YouGov Brand Index survey that “measures consumer perception of brands by asking consumers if they’ve heard anything negative or positive about them and assigns a score ranging from 100 to -100 by subtracting the negative from the positive feedback.”  Here’s a look at the top brands courtesy of a AdWeek graphic:


Now here’s what I find fascinating. Everyone one of the top saw a year-on-year decline in brand perception. And these are the cream of the crop! On average the Top 10 brands dropped nearly 7 points. Put another way, the Top 10 brands averaged a score of a little over 26 points. The 6.9 average drop amongst them from 2012 represents a more than 25% decline in brand perception.

If I follow the methodology correctly the Top 10 are receiving roughly three negative pieces of feedback for every positive one. Nike, the darling of every marketing case study has a score of 16.5. What in the world is going on here?

It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong culturally. The would appear to be a massive gap between how brands would like to be perceived and the reality of the situation.  If the scores are any indication, there isn’t a magic bullet solution here either.

Dissecting the Top 10 is a fascinating exercise as well. You’ve got old, traditional brands like Ford, V8 and Cheerios right next to Amazon and YouTube. Media outlets like History Channel and brick and mortar locations like Lowe’s.  If I were to take a stab at it, I think all 10 are perceived as providing value, or empowering people in some way. Take control of your health (Walgreens, Subway, V8, Cheerios), DIY (Lowe’s, YouTube), on-demand (Amazon, Kindle). Ford and History channel are interesting. They both are a nod to nostalgia, perhaps even patriotism on some level, but neither brand feels stuffy or out of date.

It would be worth a deeper dive to see if there aren’t some other insights that can be derived from this survey.





Lady Gaga, Farmville, Facebook and content distribution

Coming to a virtual farm near you.

Lady Gaga, the reigning queen of pop culture, has announced that singles from her new album will debut on…Farmville? At this point, if you are a marketer, you would be well within your right to throw up your arms and say, “I give up.”

I’ve written recently about a cultural singularity, when disparate aspects of pop culture come together, and how that contributes to, rather than alleviates, the struggles marketers are having. This is another case in point.


It’s possible that you saw Lady Gaga coming in 2008:

No slow burn, just a white hot rise.











And sure, it’s possible you knew Zynga’s social game was going to blow up in 2009:

Old McDonald had a farm, Z-Y-N-G-A













(It’s interesting to note that these two artifacts of culture seem to have come into the popular consciousness at almost the exact same time.)


But even if you were savvy enough to see them both coming, I doubt that you saw them coming together to give the world Gagaville.  Now, five years ago we would have spared a thought for the poor record companies. But they’re so dead we don’t even consider them anymore. Now we scratch our head and wonder how, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora or maybe even Verizon let this get away from them. Any of those and we would have nodded and said, “Of course. Smart move by Gaga and Amazon.”

But Gaga and Zynga produces a different response. While we puzzle over those that missed this opportunity, we quietly go to our office and shut the door when we have to think about how Zynga landed this deal.  What does it mean when a game that lives inside Facebook built on the premise that people want to take care of imaginary farm animals does a deal with one fo the biggest names in music – and nobody says, “That’s crazy!” but rather,”Hmm, shrewd.”

If you try to create a Facebook ad targeting people in the United States who like both Lady Gaga and Farmville, do you know how many people you’d reach?  How does 14.5 million sound?  14.5 million people who have the opportunity to engage in a unique, exclusive, interactive, shared experience that combines two things they’ve already told you they are interested in.  Oh.

But this is bigger than Lady Gaga and Farmville (and that’s pretty big). This is about changing the rules.  This is about redefining what’s possible.

These “asymmetrical partnerships” are ones that are the most interesting. This one is particularly interesting because both parties are polarizing. People either love or hate both entities, and apparently several million love them both.  This will be one to keep an eye on.