Apple, Google see reputation of corporate brands tumble in survey

A woman looks at the screen of her mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
A Tesla dealership is seen in West Drayton, just outside London, Britain, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Google hardware products are displayed during a launch event in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google corporate brands dropped in an annual survey while Inc maintained the top spot for the third consecutive year, and electric carmaker Telsa Inc rocketed higher after sending a red Roadster into space.

IPhone maker Apple dropped to 29th from its previous position of No. 5, and Google dropped from 8th to No. 28. Apple had ranked No. 2 as recently as 2016, according to the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient poll released on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted since 1999, surveyed 25,800 U.S. adults from Dec. 11 to Jan. 12 on the reputations the "most visible" corporate brands.

John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, told Reuters in an interview that the likely reason Apple and Google fell was that they have not introduced as many attention-grabbing products as they did in past years, such as when Google rolled out free offerings like its Google Docs word processor or Google Maps and Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

"Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys," Gerzema said. "We're not quite to self-driving cars yet. We're not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they're going to do."

Meanwhile, held on to the No. 1 spot, which it has held for five years with the exception of 2015, when it slipped to No. 2. Gerzema attributed Amazon's ranking to its expanding footprint in consumers' lives into areas like groceries via its Whole Foods acquisition.

Elon Musk's Tesla climbed from No. 9 to No. 3 on the strength of sending Tesla Roadster into space aboard a SpaceX rocket - despite fleeting success delivering cars on time on earth, Gerzema said.

"He's a modern-day carnival barker - it's incredible," Gerzema said of Musk. "This 'The Right Stuff' attitude is able to capture the public's imagination when every news headline is incredibly negative. They're filling a void of optimism."

For its part, Facebook Inc's reputation improved in the 2018 study, despite being the target of questions from U.S. lawmakers about the role of social media in Russia's efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016. Facebook ranked 51st, its best showing since 2014 when it ranked 38th, the highest the firm ever ranked in the poll.

This year, film production company The Weinstein Co made its debut at 99th out of 100 on the list after more than 70 women accused co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

Last place went to Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp , whose air bags can explode with too much force and have been linked to at least 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries, prompting the largest recall in automotive history and forcing Takata and its U.S. unit, TK Holdings Inc, into bankruptcy.


2. Wegmans Food Markets Inc

3. Tesla Motors

4. Chick-fil-A

5. The Walt Disney Co

6. HEB Grocery Company LP

7. United Parcel Service Inc

8. Publix Super Markets

9. Patagonia Inc

10. Aldi Inc

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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