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KAIZO RELEASES CONSUMER ADVOCACY WINNERS AND LOSERS

• Big losers: Del Monte, Microsoft, Ryanair and TMobile

• Big winners: Virgin Atlantic, Kellogg’s, 3 and Symbian

London: February 13, 2008 – Virgin Atlantic was ranked the airline category and overall winner in the Winter Kaizo Advocacy Index released today. The Kaizo Advocacy Index measures the impact of online Word of Mouth, or the brand recommendability, of 20 major brands across four sectors.

The bi-annual Index examines independent links on four Google search engine tools – Web, News, Groups and Blog. Content is assigned a positive (Promoter), neutral (Passive) or negative (Detractor) score and an index is created by subtracting the percentage of Promoters from the percentage of Detractors.

Symbian, Virgin Atlantic, 3 and Kellogg’s rated strongly and were category winners in software, airline, mobile and food respectively. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Ryanair, TMobile, Del Monte were the Word of Mouth losers in each category. Virgin Atlantic’s score of 65 online was largely due to positive perceptions around its ‘green’ behaviour. Del Monte plummeted some 78 points to -53 on the back of negative labour relations news, while Microsoft’s online reputation was tarnished by anti-trust action in Europe.

“Research consistently shows that personal recommendations – both positive and negative hold more power than any other kind of marketing influence. While organisations do not have control over what people say, with the world of Web 2.0 they do have a channel to influence conversations among people,” said Rhodri Harries, managing director of Kaizo.

Google is the first port of call for 80 per cent of web searches and has a significant influence over the way consumers form brand opinions. Consumer content in Google Blogs and Groups are having an increasing impact on a brand’s recommendability – brands that perform well through a news search can be negatively impacted by online user content.  

Kaizo advises organisations that Advocacy Index scores must be considered in relation to competitors’ scores rather than in isolation, or against companies in different sectors. Some sectors have broad Word of Mouth appeal – such as cars, beauty and travel – and have a higher average rating than sectors such as software which are more niche in their appeal. However, within a sector the Index score is a clear sign about who will be in winning the ‘recommendation stakes’ in the immediate future. As such, it is a very effective benchmark for comparisons within sectors.

Research from the London School of Economics shows that companies with above-average recommendability and below-average negative Word Of Mouth, grew four to five times faster than other companies. Not surprisingly, negative Word Of Mouth is more powerful than positive Word Of Mouth by a factor of three and a half times.

Harries concludes: “Organisations can learn from the movements in the Advocacy Index by ensuring that their communications strategy embraces all the sources of information online – particularly those created by users. Online Word of Mouth is not just chat, it’s about recommendations. Our Index shows who can expect to win in the recommendations stakes.”

– ENDS –

Kaizo is the winner of the inaugural Web 2.0 award from the Public Relations Consultants Association for its campaign with Simple (www.simplycity.co.uk) For a full copy of the report please contact Emma Potter on emma.potter@kaizo.net

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