The 20 American Companies With the Worst Reputations

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10. Balenciaga
> 2023 Harris Poll Reputations Score: 65.5
> Change in rank from 2016: No change

The French fashion brand launched two campaigns in November 2022 that ignited a firestorm of controversy. One campaign featured photos of kids carrying handbags that looked like teddy bears in bondage gear. Another was of photos that included paperwork about child pornography laws.

Two weeks after the campaigns were launched, condemnations of the ads forced the company to apologize on Instagram, and then the company issued a statement admitting “a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.” Character, trust, and ethics are lowest-scoring categories for Balenciaga in the Axios Harris Poll.

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9. BP
> 2023 Harris Poll Reputations Score: 63.5
> Change in rank from 2016: down by 3

Energy companies regularly appear on lists of companies with the worst reputations, and BP is one of them. In 2010, one of the worst environmental catastrophes ever occurred when an explosion at the company’s Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and unleashed the largest oil spill ever. BP was accused of reckless conduct and gross negligence.

The spill was also a public relations nightmare. BP’s published remarks that it cared “about the small people,” such as shrimpers and fishermen, came across as condescending. The company settled with the U.S. Justice Department in 2012, but other litigation continued. Character, trust, citizenship, and ethics are lacking at the British company, according to the Axios Harris Poll.

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8. Bitcoin
> 2023 Harris Poll Reputations Score: 61.1
> Change in rank from 2016: No change

Bitcoin’s reputation suffered from claims that the cryptocurrency was used to finance terrorist activities, launder money, and was involved in illicit drug activity. Such illicit activities, however, compose a small portion of all bitcoin activity. There were also regulatory and security concerns about bitcoin. Wide swings in its value have unsettled investors. Citizenship, trust, character, culture, and ethics are some of the categories where Bitcoin comes up short in the Axios Harris Poll.

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7. TikTok
> 2023 Harris Poll Reputations Score: 61.1
> Change in rank from 2016: No change

Social media platform TikTok has been hugely popular among the younger generation, but many in the U.S. government believe it is a national security threat. TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified before a congressional committee to try to reassure lawmakers that the company safeguards the data it collects, but U.S. representatives remain unconvinced and want to ban the app.

The concern is that TikTok could be forced to cooperate with the Chinese government and possibly hand over data it has collected. Character, trust, ethics, and citizenship are categories where TikTok is lacking in the Axios Harris Poll.

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6. Spirit Airlines
> 2023 Harris Poll Reputations Score: 60.1
> Change in rank from 2016: No change

Price-conscious customers have been dissatisfied with Spirit’s service, despite the money they saved. They have also complained about the additional fees for bags as well as frustration with the strict size limits on the one courtesy carry-on. Passengers felt the seats were uncomfortable.

The airline’s PR woes deepened in 2021, when major operational issues led to the cancellation of thousands of flights. Character, culture, citizenship, and products and services are categories found wanting by those polled at Axios Harris Poll.