My column last Friday mentioned that the public image of McDonald’s has been sliding in the past year or so, concurrently with strikes, protests and social media campaigns lambasting the company’s labor policies. Since several readers have asked, here are the data I was referring to, from YouGov’s BrandIndex survey:


The scores in the chart above are based on responses to the question, “Would you be proud or embarrassed to work for this brand?” Scores can range from 100 to -100 and are calculated by subtracting negative feedback from positive. For example, a score of zero means equal positive and negative responses.

A spokesperson for YouGov said that the reputation scores for McDonald’s are consistently negative, while the fast-food sector overall is usually slightly positive. The gap between the sector overall and this particular company has generally been widening, though, over the past 18 months as the reputation scores for McDonald’s have been trending downward.

Nielsen’s Harris Poll, by the way, also found that the McDonald’s reputation declined from 2013 to 2014.

McDonald’s has acknowledged the risk of the reputational damage from recent labor campaigns in its Securities and Exchange Commisison filings, noting in part that its ability to execute its corporate strategy is threatened by

The impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists, including through the use of social media and other mobile communications and applications, to promote adverse perceptions of the quick-service category of the [informal eating-out] segment or our brand, management, suppliers or franchisees, or to promote or threaten boycotts, strikes or other actions involving the industry, McDonald’s or our suppliers and franchisees[.]