Marketers: it may pay to be hated

Marketers tasked with making a brand stand out in a crowded marketplace have this week learnt an important lesson: better to have your brand hated than cause no reaction at all.

So suggests an annual poll of 2,500 consumers, which found that irking them with a brand or company identity is not necessarily a signpost to business failure.

Moreover, creating a brand that warms consumers’ hearts may be less positive for the overall business than creating one that annoys them.

“If people have a strong opinion, even a negative one, that is important,” Malcolm Wilkson, a partner at Deloitte, told Marketing magazine, which commissioned the poll.

“It is much easier to turn a strong negative into a strong positive than to create something from nothing.”

British Airways was cited as a case in point: although it ranked as consumers’ sixth favourite brand, it has only just returned to profitability, ahead of full year trading results next week.

The airline recently noted passenger levels declined over 2% during April, while its shares were yesterday reported by Reuters to be down for the fourth day in a row.

In contrast, the poll found no-frills carrier easyJet was among consumers most hated brands – but this hasn’t hindered the company’s profitability.

Yesterday, CBS Marketwatch reported that the airline expects pre-tax profit over the full year to rise by up to 50% from the £129m posted in the fiscal year to Sep 30, 2006.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest hamburger maker - McDonalds – emerged in the consumer poll as the most hated brand, beaten only by Pot Noodle.

According to the US based analyst, the Chicago headquartered company has enjoyed a long string of positive same-store sales results. Overall, international sales have improved, though the growth rates are beginning to slow, Marketwatch said.

Also in the top 10 of the most hated brands in Britain was The Sun - easily the most read newspaper in the UK, with over 3million daily readers.

Elsewhere in the poll, technology companies that provide a service, but don’t aggressively hound consumers, like Google, Nokia, Amazon, eBay and O2, ranked first, second, third, fifth and tenth respectively, as Britain’s most admired brands.


10th May 2007

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