Amazon and Google popularity drops in 2012



Amazon and Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) have seen their popularity drop after being accused of avoiding paying millions of pounds in tax.

The annual list of businesses with the biggest “buzz” showed Amazon slipped from first to third and Google dropped out of the top 10 altogether, the BrandIndex table by YouGov showed.

A different set of 2,000 people every day were asked whether they had heard anything good or bad about brands through advertising, the media or word of mouth and scores were given for the number of positive mentions less the negative ones.

Amazon dropped from 32.1 points to 24.1 while Google fell from 26.7 to 11.7.

Sarah Murphy, director of BrandIndex, said both brands suffered from the “tax avoidance debate”.

“Amazon and Google began to take a hit around the time of the parliamentary hearings,” she said.

“But Google had been slipping already after causing outrage when it changed its privacy policy earlier this year.”

Multinationals such as Google and Amazon have faced heavy criticism from MPs and campaigners in recent months for using legal ploys to reduce their tax bills such as diverting their profits to low tax jurisdictions.

Google, for example, channels almost £2.5bn of UK sales through Ireland (OTC BB: IRLD - news) each year, most of which ends up in Bermuda.

The web giant says it complies with tax law in every country in which it operates but that it also has an obligation to its shareholders to run its business “efficiently".

The BBC’s iPlayer topped the 2012 list with 30 points, despite the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal dominating the headlines in recent months.

“It just shows the resilience of the brand,” Ms Murphy said.

“The umbrella brand took the hit, but the products that sit underneath that have not been impacted.”

Retailer John Lewis came second with 24.6 points.

The top 10 brands in 2012 were: BBC iPlayer; John Lewis; Amazon; Money Saving Expert; Marks & Spencer; Apple iPad; Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) 's;; Samsung; and Cathedral City.