Diana Marszalek 03 Apr 2019 // 11:31PM GMT
While the reputations of once-favorites like Google, Nike and Amazon have tanked, Netflix over the last year jumped an unprecedented 23 spots to become the most reputatable company in the US, according to the Reputation Institute’s 2019 US RepTrak 100.
“We were surprised to see Netflix make such a precipitous leap,” said the institute’s chief reputation officer Stephen Hahn-Griffiths.
Netflix was followed on the top 10 list in order of rank by: Hershey, Whirlpool, Rolex, McCormick & Company, Barnes & Noble, Hasbro, Costco Wholesale, Nintendo and The LEGO Group. Hershey and Barnes & Noble are the only companies on that list that also were among 2018's top 10.
While Netflix's rise to the top may have been unexpected, Hahn-Griffiths said he believes it shows the value in the way the company conducted itself over the last year, particularly in firing House of Cards star Kevin Spacey amid allegations of predatory sexual behavior. The move cost Netflix roughly $39m. “They did the right thing,” he said.
The move was particularly noteworthy given the poor handling of situations like data breaches, sexual harassment and regulatory issues by other companies, Hahn-Griffiths said. “It makes sense in a world in which there is a lack of good ethical behavior and good corporate behavior,” he said.
Which is why, Hahn-Griffiths said, tech companies — which were battered by privacy violations and the like in 2018 — fell so far down the list of reputable companies, which is based on more than 167,000 ratings collected in January and February.
Google dropped a whopping 63 points to 119th spot, marking the first time in the study's 12-year history that the company is not among the top 100. Amazon, which was the top-ranking company in 2014-2017, didn’t make the top 50. Facebook’s reputation is so bad that it came in second to last at 389, outranking just one other company on the list: The Trump Organization.
Nike’s reputation also took a tremendous hit, which Hahn-Griffith attributes to some of its controversial marketing moves, most notably making quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched the “take a knee movement,” the face of a high-profile campaign. The sportswear company, which ranked No. 2 in 2018, dropped 60 points.
"As much as those attempts are to be applauded and valued, it’s just possible that Nike may have alienated a few people along the way,” Hahn-Griffiths said.
Overall, however, companies’ reputational ratings were low this year, up just a tick from 2018, when reputations seriously declined. “There is a lack of assurances in the hearts and minds of general public,” Hahn-Griffiths said.
With that, however, comes opportunity for companies to foster relationship with consumers wanting to be wooed. “The opportunity to is to win over those people waiting and (saying to companies), prove it to me,” he said.