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NEW YORKMay 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Grocery stores are riding reputational highs two years after the start of COVID-19 – with regional chains in particular being recognized for weathering the supply-chain storm. At the same time, the pandemic-era halo many industries enjoyed are beginning to normalize.

Those are among the insights of the Axios-Harris Poll 100, an annual ranking of the reputations of the most visible U.S. companies, which was released today.

Trader Joe’s, HEB Grocery, Patagonia, Hershey and Wegmans have the top-five best reputations in America on the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll 100 list.

Social media platforms and companies with missteps on social issues are the ones with the poorest reputations or that suffered the steepest declines. This year, The Trump Organization, Wish.com, Twitter, Facebook and Fox Corporation are at the bottom of the 23rd annual list, with poor reputations.

“As Americans move on from COVID, they are looking at corporate reputation through a more practical lens,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “Companies delivering on time and keeping their promises despite supply-chain issues are being held in high regard. Businesses that also do their part to create a better world – whether through sustainability or taking a stand on authentic social issues – also are being rewarded.”

The Axios-Harris Poll 100 has ranked reputation since 1999. The survey’s Reputation Quotient (RQ) ranking is based on companies that are most visible to the general population and on their performance in seven key areas:

  • Trust – “Is this a company I trust?”
  • Vision – “Does this company have a clear vision for the future?”
  • Growth – “Is this a growing company?”
  • Products and Services – “Does this company develop innovative products and services that I want and value?”
  • Culture – “Is this a good company to work for?”
  • Ethics – “Does this company maintain high ethical standards?”
  • Citizenship – “Does this company share my values and support good causes?”

“It’s back to basics with companies that offer quality products and are guided by steadfast values riding to the top,” said Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn. “Those that became enmeshed in political quagmires tended to be set back.”

This year, grocery dominates the top 100 list. Three grocers (Trader Joe’s, HEB Grocery and Wegmans) are in the top five. Two other grocery chains (Publix and Kroger) are among the top 25.

“The poll reinforces what we have seen on the ground with our local news product Axios Local,” said Jim VandeHei, co-founder and CEO of Axios. “To reestablish trust with a skeptical population, you have to start closer to home, making a real impact within local communities. Consumers reward brands that deliver a trusted product on time and as promised.”

Among the insights from this year’s study:

  • Most visible: Amazon and Walmart are once again the two most visible companies in America, followed by Apple, Facebook, Google, Target, Nike, Microsoft, McDonald’s and AT&T.
  • New to the list: Newly added to the 100 most visible companies list for the first time ever are Trader Joe’s, Spotify, Big Lots, Shein and Subway.
  • Top 10: The most visible and most reputable companies – Trader Joe’s, HEB Grocery, Patagonia, Hershey, Wegmans, Samsung, Toyota, Amazon and Honda – are separated by only small degrees. All but Patagonia and Honda improved their reputations from last year’s highs.
  • Industry movement: As the world moves out of the crisis phase of the pandemic, industries that saw massive reputations boosted by the crisis have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Consumer products dropped 12 points from 2021, returning to 2019 levels (2022: 62% positive, 2021: 74%, 2019: 61%). Meanwhile, while the halo surrounding the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries is fading, both remain significantly above pre-pandemic levels (pharma 2022: 49% positive, 2021: 60%, 2019: 31%) and (health insurance 2022: 49% positive, 2021: 60%, 2019: 32%).
  • Perils of speaking out, or not: The economic and reputational loss from polarization hit companies once immune to politics and controversy. Disney fell significantly from last year – with the impact of being caught in a fight between politics and company values. Patagonia – which was number one on the list last year – continues its reputational high with great products combined with a strong societal view.
  • Biggest improvements: Companies with at least a good reputation and the strong year-over-year improvement include AT&T (up 6.3%), Google (6.1%), Starbucks (6.0%), Yum! Brands (5.4%), General Motors (4.7%) and The Home Depot (4.5%)
  • Biggest declines: Companies with the biggest reputational declines from last year include Stellantis (down 8.0%), Twitter (-4.9%), Pfizer (-4.7%), Disney (-4.3%), Trump Organization (-4.3%), Chick-fil-A (-3.7%), PepsiCo (-3.5%), eBay (-3.3%), ExxonMobil (-3.3%) and Electronic Arts (-3.2%).

“To excel at reputation, companies must deliver high marks on business performance, corporate character and trust,” said Ray Day, vice chair of Stagwell, which includes The Harris Poll. “While you can build a brand, you earn a reputation. Companies with strong reputations have a price advantage, a competitive advantage and a talent advantage. That’s why reputation needs to be a priority from the board room to the C-suite.”

The Axios Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 33,096 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted March 11-April 3, 2022. The two-step process starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter. These 100 “most visible companies” are then ranked by a second group of Americans across the seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking. If a company is not on the list, it did not reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.

For information on all companies and their ranking on the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll 100, click here and here for an interactive graphic.

 

About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963. It is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas: building 21st century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. Learn more by visiting www.harrispoll.com and follow Harris Poll on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

About Axios
Axios is a digital media company launched in 2017. Axios – which means “worthy” in Greek – helps you become smarter, faster with news and information across politics, tech, business, media, science and the world. Subscribe to our newsletters at axios.com/newsletters and download our mobile app at axios.com/app.

About Stagwell
Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 10,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at www.stagwellglobal.com. 

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Mark Penn

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Welcome to Hitting the Mark – a critical analysis of developments at the intersection of business, marketing, and politics meant for the modern C-Suite. For our inaugural edition, I tackle the issue keeping leaders awake at night: Russia’s war against Ukraine. Brand leaders: did you ever anticipate you’d be drafted into a war? Well, you have. And here are some thoughts on what to do.

Over two months into Russia’s brazen assault on Ukraine, brands are the newest foot soldiers in the economic warfare the U.S. is waging to isolate Putin and his regime from the rest of the world. The United States has decided it is too dangerous to confront Putin directly, instead electing to levy crushing economic sanctions on the country and encourage U.S. business leaders to do the same. Should U.S. corporations participate in this economic warfare against the Russian people? So far, the answer is a clear yes. Typically, involvement in political issues splits a company’s consumers; in contrast, this move appears to be bringing consumers together.

 

Unprecedented Consensus on Brand Withdrawal

Per a recent survey by HarrisX into voters’ perceptions on the ongoing Ukraine conflict, about 80% of voters believe all American companies should stop doing business with and in Russia. That holds across two key segments we polled for: tech companies and fast-food companies. Further, 90% of American voters agree that Putin has committed war crimes for his role in the invasion of Ukraine.

 

Of course, this decision is easy for companies who have little or no operations in Russia. It is more difficult for those companies that have made a major investment in the country. They may have thousands of employees, stores, and other investments. What will happen to those assets? Will they have an opportunity to re-open operations if peace is achieved? These are difficult questions given the larger ramifications those decisions have.

Given the illegal and immoral actions of Putin’s unrestricted shelling of innocent civilians, an overwhelming number of well-known brands have either pulled out of Russia or suspended operations there. Morality surely swayed many; Anonymous, the hacker group, also threatened cyber-attacks against companies that did not withdraw. In the U.S., the sentiment is so strongly in favor of Ukraine and against Russia that any company remaining in the region is likely to draw significant consumer and media disapproval. Watch Nestle closely: the brand took a middle ground, announcing it would continue to sell baby food and products while pulling out of more indulgent lines like KitKat, and are donating any profits to the Ukraine relief cause.

 

Tech in Hot Water

Tech companies are as likely to be banned by Russia as they are to ban operations in Russia. Tech companies have generally focused on US internal political battles and yet carried the accounts of the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran on an unfiltered basis. RT, a U.S.-based news operation that really was a Russia propaganda front, operated online here for years without interruption. By continuing to operate, tech companies argue they are serving as a communications channel into Russia. At the same time, they could be vehicles for the spread of Russia propaganda. As of now:

  • Facebook is banned in Russia while Goggle continues to operate there in limited fashion.
  • Google News has been banned though it appears search is still operating. Google advertising has been shut down voluntarily.
  • YouTube is operating but they have prevented the Russian military from posting videos of “liberation” on the site and so is under threat of being banned by Russia.

Business software companies like Salesforce, Slack, Dell, Microsoft and IBM stopped selling to new customers while supporting old ones for now. Many had policies of not doing business with the Russian military in any event. Perhaps the single most significant help from tech companies for Ukraine is the deployment of Starlink satellites by Elon Musk. These provide an uncuttable lifeline to the Ukrainian people and government to stay connected and communicate to the outside world.

 

Et Tu, Vodka?

Then there are the companies – especially vodka companies – that have for years traded on the idea they were Russian in origin, now communicating with consumers that they were really American or European after all. This is some careful marketing legerdemain.

Companies will not be able to right every wrong, and as a matter of policy we have encouraged companies to operate in areas like China as part of showing other cultures how democracy, and economic freedom work together. There is now far less belief that by working with rogue regimes, we can change them; 3 In 5 Americans in the latest HarrisX poll now reject that strategy and believe we are better off disengaging.

 

When President Bill Clinton addressed the conflict in Kosovo, a non-NATO country, in a speech that I helped work on, he argued stopping the atrocities against civilians there was an imperative because 1) it was morally right and 2) it was within our capacity to fix. The situation in Russia is similar as there is no real moral issue or debate – this is clearly naked and unjustified aggression on a scale we have not seen since World War II. American companies should feel confident that pulling out of their Russian operations will by and large not hurt their American operations. This is both the right thing to do and what is within our capacity as business leaders to do.

Have thoughts about the Russia-Ukraine war, brands’ responsibilities in it, or corporate purpose? Email me at mark.penn@stagwellglobal.com.

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By Lisa Rosenberg, Partner + President, Consumer Brands at Allison+Partners

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Marketing Frontiers is a new series from Stagwell exploring the methods, mediums, and messes modern marketers will grapple with over the next decade as they chart transformation in the discipline. This February, Stagwell is exploring NFTs.

Virtual worlds are on the rise – and the time people spend in them is only going to increase. With popular artists such as Justin Bieber, Travis Scott and Ariana Grande having already performed in the metaverse, brands know that the future is virtual and that the possibilities of marketing in the metaverse are seemingly endless. In the last few months, we’ve seen an explosion of brands using NFTs to connect with and engage their consumers.

As AOR for Budweiser, Allison+Partners supported the brand’s entry into the metaverse with the launch of the Budverse Heritage Collection on Cyber Monday 2021. The brand’s first-ever NFTs are a curated set of unique digital cans representing 1936, the year the first Budweiser can was created. This launch marked the brand’s first foray into the world of unique digital assets on the blockchain and represented Anheuser-Busch InBev’s first owned NFT marketplace, Budwesier.com/NFT.  Each Heritage Collection token is a one-of-a-kind digital asset generated using designs from throughout Budweiser’s history and was available to consumers of legal drinking age via two different token types at launch – Core Heritage Cans and Gold Heritage Cans. The Gold Heritage Cans are rarer, with only 36 in existence and included access to and/or exclusives for future Budweiser in-person events and early access to future brand NFT launches. There were 1900 Core Heritage cans released.  

The launch was incredibly successful, with the collection selling out within an hour, a fact the team quickly added to media follow ups, with efforts resulting in 243 million impressions, including coverage in Entrepreneur, Decrypt, and multiple stories in AdAge.

For an iconic brand like Budweiser, there are numerous benefits to being seen as an early adopter in this space. The brand has been a major influencer and contributor in sports and entertainment and NFTs represent the future of where consumers are going to socialize and be entertained. In addition, NFT marketplaces enable Budweiser to provide consumers with a richer and deeper brand experience, leveraging technology for increased engagement.

Late last month, the A+P team supported the brand’s release of its second NFT collection, The Budweiser Royalty Collection, which also quickly sold out. The brand partnered with 22 of the world’s top emerging music artists to drop their first-ever NFTs and provide them with a global platform they might not have access to otherwise. The drop also allowed fans the opportunity to support artists directly and potentially unlock exclusive experiences with them. Through the Budweiser Royalty Collection, Budweiser continues to give local artists a global platform and support their journey towards becoming the next Kings and Queens of the music industry. Coverage resulted in 144 million impressions and included stories in Benzinga, Medium, INSIDER and many more.

Earned coverage of Budweiser’s entry into NFTs successfully positioned the brand as an innovative leader in the space and demonstrated how AB InBev is leveraging technology to engage brand fans in an entirely new way. Both the Budverse Heritage Collection and the Budweiser Royalty Collection offered consumers the ability to collect and own a digital piece of the Budweiser brand, as well as gain exclusive access to brand experiences.

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Stagwell’s agencies are transforming marketing – on one of the most captive fields for national marketing, the Super Bowl. Several of our agencies are showing up at the Big Game this year: Anomaly for Meta, Vroom and Expedia; 72andSunny for the NFL; Forsman & Bodenfors for Polestar; and more. Off the TV screen, our agencies are innovating with omnichannel efforts that tap into the fever and fandom of the big game to drive powerful consumer moments for their brand partners.

We believe that there’s a new definition of success for advertisers at the Super Bowl, and it’s driven by digital transformation and changing consumer expectations around brands and experiences. Stagwell is leading the charge in supporting brands as they navigate this new dynamic – explore Stagwell’s presence at The Game, both traditional and less so, below.

But before you dive in:

Captain Morgan x Anomaly

Captain Morgan’s high-tech punch bowl syncs with real-time game data to keep fans in the loop, even when they’re getting a refill.

Meet the Super Bowl snack table addition you never knew you needed: the Captain Morgan Super Bowl Punch Bowl. Anomaly worked with the Captain Morgan team to bring to life the bowl, featuring stadium-inspired lights and sound, Bluetooth speakers, subwoofers and LED graphic equalizers that sync with real-time game data to create an immersive brand experience.

Plus, don’t miss it’s apperance on Jimmy Fallon.

Cenex x Colle McVoy

Colle McVoy created a new campaign for Cenex that celebrates the quirky, charming and often humorous moments of connection that people experience at their local convenience stores. The campaign shows how its 1,500 locations in 19 states power communities while helping to connect people. It’s the next evolution of the brand’s successfulPowered Locally platform and includes six :15 spots, two debuting in a few weeks during Super Bowl 56 in 20 Midwest regional markets.

Crosstown Rivals(premiering 2/13/22) 

Local Entertainment(premiering 2/13/22) 

CUE Health x Doner

Like COVID itself, at home testing company CUE is quick to adapt, putting together a spot in just eight days with Doner. Voiced by Gal Gadot, the ad positions the smart at home testing technology in conversation with a family’s other smart home devices – just another addition to the growing suite of at technologies that keep us safe, run more efficiently, and provide peace of mind. And while COVID is top of mind now, CUE promises that they’re just getting started.

How COVID Testing Brand CUE Put Together a Super Bowl Ad in 8 Days (AdAge)

Expedia x Anomaly

Ewan McGregor gives a convincing plug for the power of experiences over ‘stuff’

As the travel industry looks to continue to gain footing and recover from COVID-drivel losses, Expedia is leading the pack in its commitment to the Big Game with a spot created by Anomaly. With an emphasis on experiences over things, the spot aims to redefine the relationship between the platform and its customers, while challenging the expectations that travelers may have for Expedia and its sister brand, Vrbo.

‘Ewan McGregor and Expedia have Teamed Up to Give Away Free ‘Trips’ on Super Bowl Sunday’ (Forbes)

‘Why the 2022 Super Bowl Makes Sense for Brands’ (AdAge)

‘Can Super Bowl Ads Make Expedia Group the Nike of Travel?’ (AdWeek)

Groupon x Allison+Partners

Gronk is getting out of town… and opening his hope to one lucky winner for the experience  of the lifetime.

Allison+Partners led PR for Groupon’s “Party Like a Player” Super Bowl sweepstakes campaign featuring Rob Gronkowski that underscored the brand’s positioning as the go-to experience marketplace. The team secured coverage in USA Today, TMZ Sports, ABC Audio, Travel + Leisure and many more resulting in 3.7B impressions (and counting) in its first week. 

LikeMeat x 72andSunny

LikeMeat is celebrating the Big Game with a TikTok scavenger hunt, created by 72andSunny and Blue Hour Studios. To promote its plant-based Chick’n Wings product launch, LikeMeat has invited TikTok users to hunt for digital clues that crack a secret code. Those who unlock the code have a chance to win two free tickets to the Super Bowl as well as other LikeMeat-branded prizes.  It’s yet another example of brands going digital-first for the big day, eschewing traditional spots for lower-budget, higher impact activations to connect with their audiences.

Why a plant-based food company started the first TikTok scavenger hunt featuring Gronk just in time for the Super Bowl (Digiday)

Got Milk? x GALE

The milk industry is making a statement at this year’s Super Bowl – that what you’re seeing on the field is not the whole picture. Their spot, airing on the NFL Network and created by GALE, is an inclusive look at the power of women in sport, even (and especially) where they aren’t expected. Featuring women from across the Women’s Football Alliance, the tagline “Football is Football” encourages a broader look at the game and the powerful changemakers behind it.

NFL x 72andSunny

After topping the USA Today Ad Meter last year, 72andSunny + NFL are returning to the screens this year just before halftime with another spot that aims to capture the magic, legacy and power of the game. Featuring cutting edge puppetry and CGI technology from experts at Swaybox, the ad features legendary NFL talent in unexpected places and spaces – bringing the game right into viewers homes. Get ready to bring down the house.

NFL Super Bowl LVI Commercial || Behind The Scenes Film‘ (YouTube)

”They Will Be Blown Away’: NFL’s Next Step in  ‘Future-Proofing’ Audience Begins with a Super Bowl Ad’ (USA Today)

‘Behind the NFL’s Super Bowl Ad Plans, Which Include Puppetry and CGI’ (AdAge)

Polestar x Forsman & Bodenfors

In it’s first Super Bowl ad, Polestar, the high-end EV company with roots in Sweden, joined a spate of automakers – with a very different approach. The minimalist 30-second spot, executed by F&B, places a focus on what it doesn’t have – gimmicks, punchlines, scandals and distractions. It’s all about the future, driven by electric.

‘Swedish EV Startup Polestar Makes Super Bowl Debut with a “No Cliche” Approach’ (Ad Age)

Quest Oculus for Meta x Anomaly

In it’s first Super Bowl as the newly-rebranded Meta, Oculus Quest is doubling down on the metaverse, with a clear message to the audience – the metaverse is already here, and we’re waiting for you. The full spot, created by Anomaly and premiered on Good Morning America on Feb. 10, shows a metaverse in full swing – including a very-real post-game concert that will be headlined by the Foo Fighters. Its giving people a reason to visit the virtual reality world Meta is building – and pulling viewers into the future they are creating.

‘Inside Meta’s Super Bowl Commercial for the Metaverse’ (AdAge)

‘Meta’s Super Bowl Commerical Depicts Old Brand’s New Life in the Metaverse’ (AdAge)

Tillamook x 72andSunny

This #NationalCheddarDay (And Super Bowl night), it’s time to turn up the cheddar.

 

72andSunny created a shoppable, digital only music video, Chedderbration to mark National Cheddar Day coinciding with the Super Bowl. The multimedium campaign includes limited edition merch, unique cheddar-based recipes, and coupons accessible only through the Cheddarbration homepage.

Vroom x Anomaly

Vroom’s Super Bowl 2022 commercial sings the praises of a reliable broker – literally

Anomaly makes a return Super Bowl appearance with Vroom, the online car retailer who is literally singing the praises of having a reliable dealer on your side during the car selling process.  The 30 second spot again features high-tempo choreography from celebrity choreograper Mandy Moore.

‘Vroom Releases Super Bowl 56 Ad ‘Flake: The Musical” (AdAge)

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