Corporate America's reputation plunges: survey

Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:09am EDT
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By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Corporate America's reputation plunged in the eyes of average Americans last year, as the rush of companies to Washington for financial support soured popular support for big business.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents in a survey said business's reputation was either "not good" or "terrible," the highest in the poll's 10-year history and well above the 68 percent to 74 percent who had held that opinion over the past five years. Results of the Harris Interactive survey were set to be released on Tuesday.

Financial services companies and Detroit automakers were among the 60 best-known companies with the worst reputations among U.S. consumers, while drug, tech and consumer products companies were most admired, according to the survey.

"What was surprising in this year's study was the very clear total loss of trust in corporate America," said Robert Fronk, senior vice president at Harris. "The focus on individual rewards, the focus on greed all really added up to this incredible drop."

Respondents said the brutal recession has darkened their view of corporate America, with 75 percent reporting their opinion of corporations was lower due to the downturn. They saw little hope for economic improvement, with 43 percent expecting conditions to get worse over the next six to 12 months.

The five companies with the worst reputations were troubled insurer American International Group Inc, oilfield services company Halliburton Co, automakers General Motors Co and Chrysler LLC, and failed savings and loan Washington Mutual.

The five with the best reputations were Johnson & Johnson, Google Inc, Sony Corp, Coca-Cola Co and Kraft Foods Inc. For complete list, click


<p>Shadows are seen as a man walks down Bay Street in the financial district in Toronto, March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>