Vanno tracks the reputations of 5,500 companies by asking users to submit articles and rate them, based on how favorable the coverage is to the subject. One of those brands is Kellogg’s, and the data says that dumping Micheal Phelps after his bong exploit made the brand tank.
In Vanno’s ranking’s, Kellogg’s spiraled downward, from 9th best to 83rd, during the course of the Phelps hubbub. Granted, this data might be messy: The data is user generated, and the statistical methods used to tabulate them don’t necessarily reflect an absolute reality, but rather a statistically probable trend. But on the other hand, it is true that many of the largest bloggers on the Web, such as Andrew Sullivan, have skewered Phelps for their perceived priggishness; SNL even railed against the company:
If you were looking for a case study on the effect of new media and how it changes PR rules, the Phelps case is a prime example. In particular, the online influence of views that might have once been marginalized on the nightly news, makes figuring out what PR moves are “safe” nowadays. A brand’s constituency is no longer some generalized, archetypal family with a (hypothetically) strong moral fiber, but it also includes all of the people who could destroy a brand on the Web, with influential opinion. Could Kellogg’s even repair the damage by taking Phelps back? Unlikely.