Gap and American Express find their reputations benefit for involvement with Bono's Red

LONDON - Gap and American Express's involvement with Bono's Red charity product has already helped improve perception of their brands, according to a survey, while McDonald's, despite all its efforts, is rated as the company with the poorest ethical stance.

A poll of more than 1,300 UK consumers has revealed that 30% of consumers said that their opinion of Emporio Armani, Gap and Nike-owned Converse, three of the companies involved in the project, had improved.

Although American Express was named by the public as one of the top 10 companies they suspected of unethical business practices, the research showed that its involvement with Red was already helping to change that perception, with 19% of people saying that it improved their perception of the company.

The news comes ahead of plans next week for a special issue of The Independent, edited by Bono as part of the Red campaign. Each company involved in the project will donate a percentage of sales to The Global Fund, which raises money to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

Nike also appears to be benefiting from its involvement, although it still has a very low reputation among consumers for being an ethical company.

The findings of the research, carried out by the Fraser Consultancy in March, are surprising, given that other companies that spend a fortune addressing their poor ethical reputation appear to be having little impact on consumers.

McDonald's investment in improved menu items and attempts to counter criticisms about its employment and environmental practices have not stopped it from being rated the company that consumers consider to have the worst business ethics.

Karen Fraser, head of the Fraser Consultancy, said: "The initial results of our Red research show there are great benefits for companies that take the lead by creating the means for these consumers to shop more ethically. Our research suggests that many consumers want to buy the products and there is an additional benefit in that their perceptions of the companies are improved."

Top 10 worst-rated companies for ethical business according to public perception
1. McDonald's
2. Nike
3. Shell
4. Adidas
5. Barclays Bank
6. Coca-Cola
7. BP
8. Camelot
9. American Express
10. Nestle

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