Buzz Report: Burger Chains Cool Off

The weather outside may be hot, but the buzz scores for the three major burger chains—Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King—haven’t been sizzling since early June, according to market research firm YouGov.

The Brandweek BrandIndex Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: The scores are based on weighing positive and negative perceptions of a brand. A +100 score is positive, a -100 score is negative, and a rating of zero means that the score is neutral. This week’s report also measures quality and consumer willingness to recommend a brand (or brand loyalty).

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 million individuals.

The report spotlights:

•    Burger chains
•    Ice cream chains
•    Chrysler’s Jeep

Burger Chains Face Criticism
Health advocates have been ramping up their annual summer round of decrying free toys given away with kids’ meals. A battle of words has escalated between the Center for Science in the Public Interest and McDonald’s, which stated that the group’s “twisted characterization” of the chain is “an insult to every one of our franchisees and employees around the world.”

Wendy’s and Burger King have slid several points, while McDonald’s dropped nearly 10 points to its lowest level since the beginning of 2009. Last July, the burger chains experienced similar downshifts, but shorter in length and not as steep.

Summer’s Sweet for Ice Cream Chains
The hot weather means ringing cash registers for national ice cream chains and restaurants. So how have the four biggest chains fared over the past 60 days? (See bubble chart below.) Cold Stone Creamery has lagged behind rivals Baskin Robbins, Dairy Queen and Friendly’s in boosts to its brand loyalty score.

On the other hand, Cold Stone has done far better with its quality score, ranking just behind leader Dairy Queen and ahead of Baskin Robbins and Friendly’s, respectively.

Chrysler Revs Up Jeep’s Perception
In one of the most closely-watched auto brand repositionings in a long time, Wieden + Kennedy’s new campaign for Chrysler’s flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee is notable for not showing the typical rough terrain, mountains and rivers. Instead, ads show vehicles being put together with pride in an assembly plant.

Because of the cushy profit margins on Jeep sales, a lot is riding on this effort, dubbed “We’re all in this together,” the first under Fiat’s ownership. With legions of longtime Jeep owners talking about the car’s launch, a deal with CBS Radio’s in-house marketing unit to feature contests, live reads and vignettes, and the campaign kicking off on June 10, Jeep’s consumer perception is on cruise control. The brand’s buzz score of 11.6 is the highest it’s been in at least 18 months. As a comparison, last June, Jeep’s score was -4.5.