The World’s Buzziest Brands

Products we can't stop talking about

NBCUniversal Integrated Media launched the Brand Power Index (BPI) in 2010 to pinpoint the 500 brands consumers are talking about the most. The BPI’s methods for measuring the impact of multilayered marketing campaigns were born from some of the same techniques NBCU uses to evaluate the success of its own partnerships. Proprietary analysis—based on in-person conversations, social media chatter and search queries—is produced each quarter, then again annually. Here are the brands that saw the greatest increase in consumer interest in 2012 versus 2011, according to NBCU’s research.

An early adopter of mobile payments, Starbucks announced a $25 million investment in the startup Square in August 2012, enabling the coffee chain to expand mobile-payment functionality to 7,000 stores by last fall. Paying for lattes with their mobile devices resonated with consumers and contributed to Starbucks’ 30 percent jump in buzz.
2012 rank: 26
2011 rank: 37
Change: 30 percent

Burger King
Last year, Burger King introduced a slate of healthier menu choices, including salads, chicken wraps and smoothies. While it was not the only chain to offer lighter options, BK differentiated itself with a diversity of celebrity pitchmen and pitchwomen, from Jay Leno and David Beckham to Sofia Vergara—a move that resonated with fans of fast food.
2012 rank: 40
2011 rank: 49
Change: 18 percent

To celebrate the cookie’s centennial, a campaign dubbed “Daily Twist” linked the iconic cookie to current events over the course of 100 days, playing it up across social media including Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest. The kick-off Rainbow Oreo for Gay Pride month was joined over the hundred days by a Shark Week cookie, plus nods to the Mars Rover, Comic-Con and the Olympics. The campaign culminated in a live event in Times Square and a crowdsourced ad in real time. The instantly classic campaign catapulted Oreo up the BPI nearly 300 spots.
2012 rank: 198
2011 rank: 494
Change: 49 percent

Red Bull
The energy drink brand captured the world’s imagination with Red Bull Stratos, a sponsorship of Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s space dive from a record 24 miles above the Earth. Over 8 million people streamed it live via YouTube. With continued viewing of the video online, social media chatter and coverage in broadcast and digital news, the stunt helped Red Bull jump 16 percent on the BPI.
2012 rank: 144
2011 rank: 172
Change: 16 percent

Samsung got traction partnering with James Franco to promote its many products and features. The multifaceted Franco lent his talents in assorted ways—from starring in an online comedy series for the brand to directing and starring in a long-form commercial for the Galaxy Note.
2012 rank: 12
2011 rank: 16
Change: 25 percent

JetBlue’s buzzy campaign offered free flights for voters wanting to leave the country if their presidential candidate lost the election. Dubbed “Election Protection,” it gave away 1,006 round-trip tickets to such destinations as the Bahamas, Mexico, and Turks and Caicos. A dedicated microsite, out-of-home ads and a partnership with BuzzFeed helped build awareness.
2012 rank: 213
2011 rank: 258
Change: 17 percent

Old Spice
Old Spice built buzz through an innovative form of co-branding when its spokesperson Terry Crews “crashed” commercials for Charmin and Bounce, declaring that Old Spice was “too powerful to stay in its own commercial.” The ads launched online first and a few days later on-air.
2012 rank: 327
2011 rank: 364
Change: 10 percent

In 2012, Axe introduced Anarchy For Her, its first fragrance for women. To support the launch, the brand, in addition to a linear and digital campaign, released a branded interactive graphic novel on YouTube and Facebook, which invited consumers to vote on upcoming characters.
2012 rank: 128
2011 rank: 212
Change: 40 percent

A brand that typically targets women, Pine-Sol switched things up by turning a prank on men into an entertaining ad. Pine-Sol invited 50 men to test its products and were caught by surprise when the “Pine-Sol lady” (played by actress Diane Amos) burst in, delivering her “Power of Pine-Sol clean” line to the shrieks of the surprised guys. Released on-air and digitally, the amusing spots also went viral, moving the brand up the BPI—and growing 28 percent among men.
2012 rank: 211
2011 rank: 241
Change: 12 percent

Taco Bell, Doritos
This partnership gave way to the Doritos Locos Taco—made with a shell composed of the favorite snack chip—and helped both brands climb the BPI. A robust digital and social campaign was capped off with a contest in which consumers uploaded Instagram photos of themselves with the Doritos Locos Taco; winning shots were used in TV and Web ads. Taco Bell buzz among women was particularly strong, growing 27 percent YOY.

Taco Bell 2012 rank: 48
2011 rank: 52
Change: 8 percent

Doritos 2012 rank: 131
2011 rank: 187
Change: 30 percent

Photos: Joshua Scott