Mar 12, 2019

The phoenix companies: How brands bounce back from crises

Looking at the Axios Harris Poll 100 reputation rankings, it's interesting to see how differently some companies have responded to crises.

Data: Harris Polls; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

What we're watching: Rising from the ashes of controversy, some brands have been able to overcome major scandals, while others have struggled to regain public trust.

Why it matters: Brands that have faced major public scandals over the past few years that have been able to recover in public reputation are those that have fundamentally sought to change the culture or DNA of their companies post-scandal.

  • General Motors, which faced two of its worst scandals in a row with the 2009 bankruptcy and its 2014 ignition recall scandal, has largely won over the public over the past few years. CEO Mary Barra has been credited for taking ownership of the crisis and revamping GM's culture in response.
  • Volkswagen, which was slow at first to respond to the diesel emissions scandal of 2015, has been able to turn around its brand and business, by pouring billions into a company reboot that focuses on electric car production.

Meanwhile, Boeing is now grappling with its nightmare scenario of deadly back-to-back 737 MAX 8 crashes.

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In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow2 hours ago - World

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.