BrandIndex's weekly Brandweek Buzz Report: Verizon Wireless, Merrill Lynch, and Southern Comfort

Droid Lifts Verizon Wireless Brand Loyalty

Verizon Wireless' relentless iPhone-bashing in Droid ads seems to be making an impact with consumers. According to market research firm YouGov's BrandIndex report, the carrier's brand loyalty has recently surged past AT&T's in the 18-34 demographic.

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:

• Verizon Wireless and AT&T
• Merrill Lynch
• Southern Comfort

Droid Stirs Up Competition
Will the Droid introduction be the turning point for AT&T and the iPhone? Despite AT&T filing a lawsuit last week claiming Verizon Wireless’ “There’s a map for that” ads are misleading, the damage may have been done. Verizon Wireless is attempting to exploit the undercurrent of unhappiness users have had with AT&T outages and coverage right on time to drive holiday sales. Since the Droid campaign launched on October 19th, Verizon Wireless' recommend score soared from 8.3 to 24.2 on November 6th. During the same time period, AT&T slipped from 1.4 to -2.4.

Merrill Lynch Still Struggling
Bank of America is on a spending spree to lift two troubled brands out of negative sentiment. BofA debuted a $40 million consumer campaign, and a $20 million fourth quarter relaunch blitz for its Merrill Lynch subsidiary, aimed at affluent consumers and high net worth investors. The company took its famous “bull” symbol out of the barn and brought it front and center again for its “help2” campaign, which features slogans like: “help2 grow, help2 retire, help2 succeed, help2 cherish, and help2 make it last.” Since kicking off on Oct. 1 and through Nov. 9, the campaign has not changed the minds of consumers with an average household income over $100,000. In fact, the buzz scores for the brand have been virtually flat, and still quite negative. The buzz score on Oct. 1 was -21.5, and -20.1 on Nov. 9.

Southern Comfort Underperforms
Arnold Worldwide launched its all-digital “What is Southern Comfort” campaign at the beginning of the month by bringing young adults a sassy taste of New Orleans on sites like Hulu,,,,, and For the 18-34 demo, the spirits sector’s buzz score has been trending downward the past few weeks, peaking at 11.2 the week before Halloween, and now settled on 5.4. Southern Comfort mirrored this decline, but started its descent a week earlier and has underperformed against its peer group. Southern Comfort's current buzz score sits at 1.6. Leading the sector’s buzz for the demo as of Nov. 9 are Smirnoff (20.75), Jack Daniels (16.82) and Captain Morgan (16.49).