Reputation Winners of 2013
While we often think first of the big losers when it comes to reputation, it’s worth taking note of those who have done it right. Here’s our take on the biggest reputation winners of 2013:
Starbucks – The epitome of a company guided by its values, with the character, conviction and reputation equity to pull off controversial decisions with aplomb. When Starbucks announced that guns were not welcome in its stores, they did so in a way that respected a customers’ right to have one (if you are a gun kind of guy), but respectfully told them to leave them at home when they come for their latte. In the process, Starbucks sent a strong message to its employees (your safety matters more than a $5 cup of coffee) and to all of its stakeholders about what it stands for. In addition, the company was running on all cylinders in 2013, blowing away earnings estimates and articulating a vision for the future with the acquisition of famous Bay-Area bakery La Boulange and expanding the retail presence of Evolution Fresh. Well done.
Yahoo/Marissa Mayer – As one of the most scrutinized CEOs in the world, Marissa Mayer has taken her share of hits for everything from taking a job like this while pregnant to banning telecommuting while building a nursery for her baby at the office. But it is hard to argue with success, evidenced by a stock price that is roughly double what it was when she arrived and the acquisition of white-hot web properties like Tumblr and Qwiki. Score one for girl power.
The Vatican/Catholic Church/The Papacy – We haven’t seen a Pope be this relevant (and in my opinion, for the right reasons) since Pope John Paul II freed Poland from Communism. Pope Francis walks the line between preserving the Church’s values and encouraging tolerance. The personification of the concept of a servant leader, Pope Francis earned himself the distinction of being Time Magazine’s Person of the Year with his wisdom, compassion and example.
Netflix – The Comeback Kid of 2013, Netflix moved past its pricing debacle and concerns about its future to grow its user base and its bottom line. Netflix redefined entertainment delivery with its big bets on House of Cards, Arrested Development, Orange is the New Black and Lilyhammer. Cable providers nationwide are sweating bullets with Netflix and rivals like Hulu and Aereo growing rapidly.
Marriage Equality – Advocates for marriage equality showed a stroke of brilliance when they positioned it as a human rights issue, not an LGBT issue or a “fairness” issue, and that bet is paying off. This year, support for marriage equality tipped to the majority of Americans for the first time, and 18 states now provide full equality, and Utah may be next after a federal court judge struck down state law.
The Jersey Shore – In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an MWW client. And we’re pretty darn proud of the work we did. But the numbers don’t lie…despite predictions of a disastrous decline in critical tourism revenue in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey rallied, rebounded and got people back to the beaches in record numbers, proving that the state is Stronger than the Storm. Lonely Planet and Fodor’s just named the Jersey Shore to its top 10 U.S. destinations.
Tesla – There may not have been a hotter company in 2013, so much so that its own CEO tamped down expectations and did the unthinkable by saying its share price was overvalued when its stock exploded by 400 percent in a single year. CEO Elon Musk has transformed his reputation as a big dreamer into a big doer, and continued to push boundaries on how we think about travel including a hyper-fast train system. Still, challenges remain ahead to deliver on the hype.
Amazon/Jeff Bezos – Amazon scored a banner year with impressive financial growth, possibly the greatest media placement of all time (debuting Amazon’s drone delivery service on 60 Minutes the day before Cyber Monday), and a CEO who purchased one of the world’s greatest media properties in The Washington Post with a plan to invest and expand coverage. The sky does seem to be the limit for where Amazon goes from here.
Honorable Mentions to Big Data, proving that PR people don’t hate numbers after all. Pantene, for igniting a national debate about gender bias in the workplace, and the Boston Red Sox, who obliterated the rally cap with the rally beard.