‘Immoral’ techniques tarnishing brands

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London - Amazon and Google have seen their popularity plunge after being accused of avoiding paying millions in tax.

An annual list of Britain’s favourite brands has seen Amazon slip from first to third, while Google has dropped out of the top ten.

The BrandIndex table is calculated by YouGov, which polls a different set of 2,000 people every day about whether they have heard anything good or bad about brands, be it via advertising, the media or word of mouth.

The BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service came first in the 2012 rankings, with a score of 30. John Lewis was second with 24.6, and Amazon third with 24.1.

BrandIndex director Sarah Murphy said: “Amazon had a score of 32.1 last year, so a fall of eight points is a statistically significant drop for them.” She attributed the fall to “the recent tax avoidance debate”. This year a devastating report by MPs attacked Amazon and Google for paying extremely low tax rates by basing themselves abroad.

The techniques, branded “immoral” by the public accounts committee, were laid bare in Parliament after executives were called in to explain themselves. Amazon admitted basing its European operations in Luxembourg because of the country’s low tax. It paid no UK tax in 2010 on revenues of £3.3-billion.

Similarly, Google paid only £6-million to the Treasury last year on UK sales of £2.6-billion. The technology firm, which was accused of avoiding more than £200-million in tax by basing its operations in Ireland, admitted structuring its affairs to minimise its liability. Google finished fourth in last year’s BrandIndex list with a score of 26.7, but this year failed to make the top ten after dropping 15 points.

The BBC received two entries in the top ten, despite a difficult year dominated by the Jimmy Savile scandal. In addition to iPlayer taking the top spot, the corporation’s website, bbc.co.uk, came eighth.

The BrandIndex director said: “With all the dreadful things that have happened, the BBC brand is still very strong. While the BBC umbrella brand is definitely being hit and is at the lowest levels ever seen, there has been no knock-on effect for products like the iPlayer and its website.”

London Underground received its first ever positive scores during the Olympics, thanks to the transport network’s unexpectedly smooth performance during the Games.

Surprisingly, energy companies recorded big rises, with British Gas and Scottish Power gaining 8.1 and 7.1 points respectively – but this is probably due to their abysmal performances in 2011. - Daily Mail

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