Arrange and kick off Brandweek magazine's weekly BrandIndex feature

GM, Chrysler Show Signs of Improvement

Oct 9, 2009

- Brandweek Staff

Are recent marketing efforts by GM and Chrysler working? It appears so. According to statistics from market research firm YouGov, the automakers' scores are up since July. Since bottoming at an Index score of 5 at the end of 2008, Ford has dramatically grown its overall brand health scores. As of October 7, Ford has improved consumer perception 21 points to a two-year high of 27.

The Brandweek Buzz Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on:

Buzz: If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?
Willingness to Recommend: Would you recommend the brand to friends, family or co-workers or tell them to avoid the brand?
Index: Overall brand health score, average of six underlying indicators of brand health (Impression, Quality, Value, Reputation, Satisfaction and Willingness to Recommend)

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than one million individuals. A score can range from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

This week, the report spotlights:

• Wendy's
• McDonald's
• Burger King
• Starbucks
• GM
• Chrysler
• Ford
• Michelin

KFC Benefits from Grilled Chicken Launch and Oprah Coupon Giveaway
KFC’s Buzz score averaged 15 in April, the month before the Oprah coupon giveaway and Grilled chicken product launch. Scores surged to a high of 30 in the weeks following the promotion and subsequent brand activities. Almost four months later, KFC is still reaping the rewards, and is elevated 9 points from mid 2009 Buzz levels. Scores began to improve again during the first week of October.

Starbucks Generates More Positive Buzz

From mid-March through mid-April Starbucks pulled their Buzz scores out of negative territory, increasing 10 points from -3 to 7. After holding relatively steady through July, Starbucks again improved Buzz ratings. Starbucks Buzz scores remained elevated through the first week of October, but have flattened out and dropped since September. It still remains to be seen what type of buzz Starbucks' newly launched Via instant coffee line will generate in the coming weeks.

Wendy’s Moves Needle on Value

Wendy’s—which recently tapped The Kaplan Thaler Group as its lead agency—had a great month. The fast-food chain celebrated 40 years in existence, and this week, introduced a fresh ad campaign with a new slogan: “You know when it’s real.” Wendy's also successfully improved its Willingness to Recommend scores with consumers. Wendy’s 99-cent deals on a variety of menu items and focus on differentiating from other QSRs on quality has resulted in a 10 point increase in its Willingness to Recommend score. As a comparison, competitors McDonald’s and Burger King increased only 1 point and 2 points, respectively.

McDonald’s Closes the Gap With Burger King
During the first week of October, it appears BK has begun to accelerate growth, while McDonalds has dropped down a point. As of October 7, BK's Index score was 19, while McDonald's was 13. Since launching the Angus Third Pounder in July, McDonald's has been fairly quiet on the marketing front, while BK has been generating buzz with several efforts including a beefed up, a product launch at Walmart, several celebrity endorsements, and a tie-in with the upcoming New Moon movie.

GM, Chrysler Improve, While Ford Continues to Outperform

Though Ford continues to do well, GM brands were not hit as hard as Chrysler, with each showing modest signs of improvement recently. In September, General Motors started offering a 60-day "Satisfaction Guarantee" to eligible buyers of new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles, and has kicked off an effort touting its "Reinvention"—factors that have contributed to its rising scores. Index scores for GM and Chrysler bottomed out at 6 and -10, respectively, in July 2009, and have since improved. As of October 7, GM’s growth has slowed with scores dropping very slightly. Chrysler has continued its steady climb out of negative territory, improving 1 point since last week.

Michelin’s New Campaign Gets Consumers Talking

Michelin’s Buzz scores have improved 3 points during the first week of its new campaign. The global effort kicked off on October 7, featuring the Michelin Man as the superhero in ads that carry the tagline: "The right tire changes everything." YouGov will continue to monitor the brand's success over the next several weeks.