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Sony Hack Pushes Consumer Brand Perception to Worst Levels in At Least 6 Years

The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has tarnished the Sony brand — driving consumer perceptions of the conglomerate to its worst levels in at least six years, according to research service YouGov.

At the beginning of 2014, Sony’s brand-perception score was 13 on YouGov’s BrandIndex, a weighted metric (ranging from minus-100 to 100) indicating relative positive or negative perception. That dropped to a score of 11 as of Nov. 24, when the Sony hack was first disclosed.

Sony’s brand perception continued to slide in the ensuring weeks. Hackers posted data and films stolen from SPE online, including salaries of top execs and personal info for thousands of current and former employees, and the studio ultimately pulled the Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” the film that apparently spurred North Korea to attack Sony. As of last Friday, Sony’s BrandIndex score stood at 3 — a six-year low, per YouGov.

In the wake of the devastating hack, Sony Pictures has hired crisis-management expert Judy Smith, who is the inspiration for the Olivia Pope character in ABC’s “Scandal” primetime series. The studio now says it plans to distribute “The Interview” in some way, but is still determining next steps.

Sony’s previously biggest perception hit came in April 2011, after hackers stole account information for millions of PlayStation Network users. That dropped the company’s BrandIndex score from 28 on March 1, 2011, to 10 by mid-May 2015. According to YouGov, Sony’s current score of 3 could drop even lower as the fallout from the hack continues.

The data comes from YouGov’s BrandIndex service, which polls 4,300 consumers per day in sample representative of the U.S. population, according to the company. The survey asks respondents, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”

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