BrandIndex's weekly Brandweek Buzz Report: Bank of America, Ford and SyFy

Bank of America Buzz Shows Negative Balance

Nov 6, 2009

Bank of America had a fairly good year in 2008, despite the economic downturn. But this year has proven to be much more different for the financial firm. According to market research firm YouGov's BrandIndex report, consumer-focused banks are averaging approximately -4 on its buzz score chart, but BofA has dropped from -15.9 on July 1 to -23.1 in Nov.

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?

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 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:

• Bank of America
• Ford
• Syfy

Bank of America Barely Moves the Needle
During the initial stages of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, Bank of America was viewed as one of the industry’s more responsible players. This image was enhanced when it swooped in to purchase troubled firms Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. But this year, BofA (and its former beleaguered CEO Ken Lewis) has become a preferred target for Congress and the media. The financial firm's troubles have lead to all negative numbers on YouGov's chart. BofA decided to change its image as the poster child for all things wrong, and launched a $40 million campaign devoid of financial lingo on Oct. 26. But it will take a lot more to convince consumers, given that the buzz needle has barely moved since the start of the campaign.

Ford Drives Forward
Unlike Bank of America, Ford is an example of a brand in a very troubled sector that was able to pull itself out of doldrums by doing all the right things. The automaker's quality perception chart stands out compared to the rest of the domestic carmakers from Jan. 1 through Nov. 3. It has indeed been a turnaround year for Ford. The Detroit carmaker refused to take TARP bailout money and rolled out appealing new models. Most recently, Ford tapped Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe as the star of its “Why Ford, Why Now” integrated campaign. The company topped off its successes last week with a surprise third quarter profit of nearly $1 billion.

Syfy Rebranding Causes Confusion
No matter how you spell it, even though ratings have been solid, Syfy is confusing branding, particularly in the eyes of young men. With the intention of making the cable network more “balanced,” the NBC Universal unit introduced a new brand name that generated a lot of discussion, but seems to have confounded its core audience of young men. For men ages 18-34, the buzz score on July 6 was 29.8, the date the Syfy brand premiered with Warehouse 13. By Sept. 28, that score had taken a very steep drop down to 3.3. And as of Oct. 26, the score rebounded somewhat to 9.8. Despite the name fumble, Syfy is Top 10 across the board in terms of total viewers and demographics.