Thursday, February 08, 2001

Despite troubles, P&G has sterling reputation

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After a year colored by profit warnings, a stock meltdown and harsh criticism from Wall Street, Cincinnati's biggest corporate citizen — Procter & Gamble Co. — appears to have been judged mainly for the content of its company character, according to a survey.

        The second annual “Reputation Quotient” study of the best corporate reputations — conducted online in October by Harris Interactive Inc. and The Reputation Institute — found that P&G's actually improved despite a tumultuous year that cost investors billions of dollars.

TOP 10
    Companies with the highest-regarded corporate reputations:
    No.1 — Johnson & Johnson
    No.2 — Maytag
    No.3 — Sony
    No.4 — Home Depot
    No.5 — Intel
    No.6 — Anheuser-Busch
    No.7 — IBM
    No.8 — Disney
    No.9 — Microsoft
    No.10 — Procter & Gamble
    Source: Harris Interactive Inc.
        According to the national survey of more than 26,000 people, P&G — a $40 billion corporation — had the 10th-best corporate reputation among 45 most recognized U.S. companies. Johnson & Johnson was No. 1.

        P&G moved up 12 places from its No. 22 ranking in 1999.

        Tire maker Bridgestone/Firestone, still reeling from the fallout of a massive tire recall, finished last.

        According to Harris, the survey asked respondents — including employees, shareholders and even protesters — to rank companies on a scale of one to 100 in six categories:

        • Emotional appeal.
        • Products and services.
        • Vision and leadership.
        • Financial performance.
        • Workplace environment.
        • Social responsibility.

        In the most recent survey, so-called traditional companies — P&G, Maytag (No. 2), Anheuser-Busch (No. 6) and Disney (No. 8) — fared best, dominating the Top 10.

        By comparison, many of the technology companies that were 1999's big winners lost ground last year, with Gateway (No. 31), Hewlett-Packard (No. 20) and Xerox (No. 21) all falling out of the Top 10.

        The results point to traditional strengths that come from age and familiarity, said Charles Fombrun, executive director of the Reputation Institute, a private research and advisory organization.

        “The average age of all firms we measured was 67 years, but the average age for firms with an increase in their (reputation quotient) from the previous year was 87 years,” Mr. Fombrun said.

        “In other words, older firms did better than their younger counterparts.”


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