Google slides down brand rankings as tax row takes its toll
Search giant, named as fifth-most desirable brand in 2012, drops 109 places as consumers start to wonder whether it can be evil after all
Friday 28 June 2013
Google's motto is "don't be evil", but news of the multi-billion pound internet behemoth's tax affairs seems to have left consumers less than convinced.
According to a survey of 12,000 consumers by Clear, the brand agency of M&C Saatchi, Google has slumped an astonishing 109 places - from fifth to 114 - or, as the agency puts it, a 38 per cent drop in desirability.
The search giant has been at the centre of a damaging row over its tax arrangements.
Earlier this year, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) called on HM Revenue & Customs to investigate the company, after deciding it had used "highly contrived" tax arrangements with the sole purpose of avoiding corporation tax on its massive UK revenues.
The company's representatives were twice called to Parliament to be grilled over what MPs described as a a brazen and unconvincing attempt to avoid paying its fair share of UK tax.
Matt Brittin, the vice president of Google’s operations in northern Europe, said that the small UK tax bill was justified because its British subsidiary does not carry out transactions. From 2006 to 2011, the company generated £11.9bn in revenues in Britain but paid just £10.5m in taxes.
The firm claimed that it legitimately channelled its business through its Dublin office, where corporation tax is 12.5 per cent, compared with Britain's 21 per cent.
Despite being castigated by the MPs, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt was unrepentant.
"If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply," he said last month. "That is a political decision for the democracy that is the UK."
James Osmond, Clear's chief executive, said the reason for Google's fall was not simply about taxes, it was that it had been damaged by its participation in the US' NSA Prism information gathering scandal, as well as Google Street View collecting unauthorised data.
"Google has a great, inspiring purpose," said Mr Osmond. "But if it doesn't back up what it stands for, it can fall far and fast.
"It's not just about tax, it's also security. When several of these things happen together, it can have a massive impact on how a brand is perceived."
Of the other brands in the ranking, Apple - which has also had its share of tax travails - takes the number one spot, with its iPhone brand at number two. The online retailer Amazon, which again has been accused of avoiding tax, is at number seven.
Life & Style blogs
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
NHS medics are being lured away to Australia by more money, status and sunshine, survey suggests
Xiaomi Mi4: 'Chinese Apple' launches flagship mobile to challenge iPhone
Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Condom couture: Latex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...
£400 - £401 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SSIS Administrat...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...