New way to measure brand risk from NGO campaigns
Brand Vulnerability Index (BVI) launched
Brussels, 15 June, 2010 – Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications firm, has launched a new evidence-based tool to measure and track brands’ exposure and vulnerability to issues-based attacks from campaigning NGOs. The tool was launched at the first edition of the Burson-Marsteller EMEA Energy & Environment Forum held in Brussels on 10 June, 2010.
Developed in conjunction with strategic partner SIGWatch, a specialist NGO monitoring and analysis company operating globally, the Brand Vulnerability Index (BVI) helps companies quantify brand risk; identify emerging risks, allowing pre-emptive engagement and mediation; and assess comparative risk against competitor brands.
“NGOs have demonstrated considerable power to impact brand reputation and mobilise consumer action based on perceived inconsistencies between brand promise and business performance,” said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
The Brand Vulnerability Index provides a disciplined way to measure, quantify and evaluate the genuine risk that a brand faces from issues-based campaigning, and to support decisions to mitigate this exposure.
As many companies have experienced over recent years, digital NGO campaigns can emerge literally overnight, spread virally to activists and consumers globally in a matter of days, and cause considerable damage to both corporate reputation and brand revenues.
The BVI will allow companies to track and monitor their brand risk real-time, but also to understand when engagement and changes in corporate behaviour or policy are critical to avoid a damaging public campaign,” he continued.
The BVI draws on SIGWatch’s extensive tracking database of more than 3,000 NGOs to:
• assess brand risk based on seven variables, including sectoral exposure and cultural and political risk
• examine NGO force, the collective weight of NGOs active on the issue, weighted for size and influence; and
• evaluate NGO pressure, the level and trend of current NGO campaigning and likely trajectory and tactics.
The weighted sum of these factors provides a raw BVI measure, which is then adjusted based on an assessment of brand ‘insurance’ – any mitigation activities such as supply chain certification, social investment programmes, NGO alliances and other measures to address concerns and promote sustainability.
The BVI is presently offered in three separate applications:
• a comparative rating (scorecard) for up to five competitor brands in a single sector
• 360 degrees brand diagnosis, examining in detail the embedded risks along the entire value chain of a brand, from sourcing to ingredients to manufacturing, distribution, marketing and end-of-product-life stewardship
• Geographic risk scoping, which assesses relative risks on a country by country basis, recognising that many brand issues in the developing world are locally based and vary considerably.
“No company is fully immune to the risk of an opportunistic campaign by a highly motivated NGO,” commented Bill Royce, Chair of the Energy, Environment & Climate Change practice in EMEA.
Ironically, the bigger and more successful the brand, the larger a target it becomes if campaigning groups see a gap between promise and performance.
NGOs view the brand simply as the pinnacle of a commercial ecosystem that extends from R&D to end-use. Potentially a brand will be held accountable for any perceived failing in its value chain, such as a rogue supplier acting in breach of agreed ethical sourcing rules.
The BVI will give better data not only to assess risk and critically understand the merit of current mitigation efforts, but also to identify the mandatory actions needed to remove the potential risk,” he said.
The BVI is the latest in a series of products that show Burson-Marsteller’s commitment to Evidence-Based Communications.
Burson-Marsteller (www.burson-marsteller.com) established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, advertising and web-related services. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 70 wholly-owned offices and 60 affiliate offices, together operating in 83 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDQ: WPPGY), one of the world’s leading communications services networks.
SIGWatch (www.sigwatch.com) specialises in tracking and understanding NGOs to help business manage global NGO risk. Many of the world’s leading multinationals are its clients. Founded in 1997, it is headquartered in Freiburg, Germany.SIGWatch enables businesses to calibrate both direct threats – such as NGOs attacking its brands – and issue threats – when NGOs raise the temperature of an issue or introduce new issues that increase businesses’ operating costs.SIGWatch provides three basic services: real-time information about NGO campaigns and intentions, insight into NGO strategies to help manage issues and predict emerging problems, and counselling and training to better understand NGO psychology and motivation, and to develop productive relationships with NGOs.
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