Brand recognition for Apple and Google plunges in poll as Amazon stays on top; Takata comes in last


Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google corporate brands dropped in an annual survey while Amazon.com Inc. maintained the top spot for the third consecutive year. Electric carmaker Telsa Inc. rocketed higher after sending a red Roadster into space.

IPhone maker Apple dropped to No. 29 from its previous position of No. 5, and Google dropped from No. 8 to No. 28. Apple had ranked No. 2 as recently as 2016, according to the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient survey released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted since 1999, surveyed 25,800 U.S. adults between Dec. 11 and Jan. 12 on the reputations the “most visible” corporate brands.

John Gerzema, CEO of Harris Poll, said in an interview that the likely reason Apple and Google fell was that they have not introduced as many attention-grabbing products as they did in past years, such as when Google rolled out free offerings like its Google Docs word processor or Google Maps and Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

“Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys,” Gerzema said. “We’re not quite to self-driving cars yet. We’re not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they’re going to do.”

Meanwhile, Amazon.com held on to the No. 1 spot, which it has held for five years with the exception of 2015, when it slipped to No. 2. Gerzema attributed Amazon’s ranking to its expanding footprint in consumers’ lives into areas like groceries via its Whole Foods acquisition.

Elon Musk’s Tesla climbed from No. 9 to No. 3 on the strength of sending a Tesla Roadster into space aboard a SpaceX rocket — despite fleeting success delivering cars on time on Earth, Gerzema said.

“He’s a modern-day carnival barker — it’s incredible,” Gerzema said of Musk. “This ‘The Right Stuff’ attitude is able to capture the public’s imagination when every news headline is incredibly negative. They’re filling a void of optimism.”

For its part, Facebook Inc.’s reputation improved in the 2018 study, despite being the target of questions from U.S. lawmakers about the role of social media in Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook ranked No. 51, its best showing since 2014 when it ranked No. 38, the highest the firm ever ranked in the poll.

This year, film production company The Weinstein Co. made its debut at No. 99 out of 100 on the list after more than 70 women accused co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape. Weinstein has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.

Last place went to Japanese auto parts supplier Takata Corp., whose air bags can explode with too much force and have been linked to at least 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries, prompting the largest recall in automotive history and forcing Takata and its U.S. unit, TK Holdings Inc., into bankruptcy.