Prophet Study: 2010-2011 Reputation Winners, Losers

Crises Cause BP, Toyota Tumble; Kraft Ends Up on Top

Mar 02, 2011, 16:06 ET from Prophet

SAN FRANCISCO, March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study ( ranking the reputations of 145 Fortune 500 companies finds consumers more concerned with ethics and transparency than economic viability – a notable shift from 2009 that affected where this year's headliners landed on the list.

In its annual Corporate Reputation study, Prophet (, a strategic brand and marketing consultancy, saw BP and Toyota, former reputation high-flyers, tumble in the face of the Gulf oil spill and product recalls. BP landed at the very bottom of the ranking at 145 from last year's rank of 78; Toyota fell to 139 from 18.

But some of the businesses whose reputations suffered most during 2009's economic woes made a significant comeback in 2010. General Motors, for example, jumped to the 85th spot from 123 in 2009, a reputation rebound experienced by the auto industry as a whole.

"Our findings reinforce how fragile reputations are, and how much they're influenced by news coverage along with word-of-mouth buzz," said Jeff Smith, the Prophet partner who leads the study. "Add in macro-economic forces and industry-specific factors, and it all combines to make reputation management more challenging than ever before."

  • Reputation winners: Prophet's 2010-2011 U.S. study found two business sectors that command a high level of consumer trust and engagement dominating the list's top 25: Consumer packaged goods and technology. Kraft edged out Kellogg's for the No. 1 spot, with others in the top 10 including General Mills (four), Sara Lee (17), Coca Cola (eight) and Nestle (10). On the tech side, Sony moved up to No. 5, ahead of Amazon (nine) and Apple (13). Google, however, slid to 28 from 10, possibly a function of its pervasiveness.
  • Reputation losers: At the bottom were three sectors that have been under tremendous public scrutiny: Oil and gas, healthcare and financial services.  The oil and gas industry saw a 10-point drop in its overall score from 2009. ConocoPhillips was its high performer with a ranking of 127. In healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield led the pack. And despite financial services' overall poor-to-failing ratings, individual companies saw marginal reputation improvements. JP Morgan Chase, for example, outperformed nearly all its peers except Wells Fargo, with improvements on all key reputation drivers.

Prophet polled 4,900 U.S. consumers about 145 Fortune 500 companies in 18 sectors.

The Prophet study also polled 3,200 consumers about 30 companies in five industries in the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. Findings were similar to the U.S., with the tech and automotive sectors sharing top reputation rankings and the energy industry, the lowest.

Prophet ( is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy that helps its clients win by delivering inspired and actionable ideas. For further information about the study, contact Jeff Smith at

Editors: For industry-specific overviews, please contact Sally Hodge, Hodge Media Strategies, 773.325.9282 or  For more information on the E.U. results please contact Stephanie Jeanmougin

SOURCE Prophet