Superbrands: how could they get it so wrong?


And so to the annual Superbrands Event last night. Once again the format changed: this time a drinks reception followed by a couple of marketing speakers then entertainment from Neil Mullarkey’s barking mad business guru creation, L Vaughan Spencer. Then more drinks and some chap singing like Frank Sinatra, and making a pretty good fist of it too. All good fun.

Microsoft was named the UK’s number one brand in the public poll for the second year running, which was nice. I’m lucky to work with so many passionate and talented people who help create and market Microsoft products and services in the UK, both as employees of Microsoft and within our partner ecosystem. It’s nice be to recognised once again in this way. A little pat on the back goes a long way.

Much of the media attention focussed on the differences between the public vote (3,265 consumers were surveyed by YouGov, the UK’s most accurate online research agency) and the Media & Marketing Experts vote. 78.7% of the UK public voted for Microsoft, ranking it number one. The ‘experts’ didn’t place Microsoft in the top ten, handing the top spot instead to Google, followed by Apple, then iPod.

Now, I have as much respect for the experts as the next man, but I find it fascinating that the two polls could produce such wildly different results. For the experts to have placed both Apple and iPod in the top ten but for the public to place them 41st and 153rd respectively is quite revealing. Call me Mr Cynical Knickers, but could these experts be the type of people who use Apple Mac computers, wear iPods, and drive around in Minis while supping Red Bull bought from their local Waitrose store?

If marketers ever needed a reminder that "we are not our consumers" this is it. The experts have shown once again how out of touch they are with real people living real lives right now across the whole of the UK. Or maybe they just misread the brief and answered the survey from their own viewpoint? Or projected to a future state they would like to see where everyone thinks like a media & marketing expert?

A true marketing expert would today be tearing up their own rankings, apologising for getting it so wrong, and starting to listen very carefully to what consumers are telling them.

Of course, Microsoft is far from perfect. I work here and know that better than most. But we do still occupy a unique place in the hearts and minds of the Great British Public. And we never take that for granted, nor would we be so arrogant as to pretend we know our brand better than they do.

See the rankings and Superbrands press release and decide for yourself.