Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When you say the words United Airlines, what reaction do you usually get?

A snort of derision, perhaps? Or maybe a joke about dragging passengers off planes?

Or maybe a haughty: "I'll never fly with those people again!"

Yet humans are fickle sorts.

To change their minds about something -- or someone -- can occasionally take one simple action, one blessedly simple event.

And so it is that my eyes fall upon a new YouGov BrandIndex survey that examined recent events in American history, specifically the companies that had decided to drift away from the potentially -- or, some might say, actually -- noxious association with the National Rifle Association.

The main thrust of this survey's results is rather neutral.

"Despite a significant increase in the number of people talking and hearing about many of the brands which broke their NRA partnerships, overall consumer perception for most of those brands have remain unchanged," says YouGov. 

Most of those brands. 

Yet when you slide your eyes along all of the scores, you see something poking its little head out.

And it's not a passenger lying on the floor. 

It's United Airlines, whose so-called Buzz score after breaking ties with the NRA rose more than any of the other brands.

Its Word of Mouth score also rose to sixth place out of all the brands surveyed. (Delta, which is in a nasty little spat with the state of Georgia over its decision, came first in this category.)

This -- in the context of United's recent woes after it called the police on a paying passenger and dragged him bloodied off a plane -- might be cause for a little joy at United HQ.

I contacted the airline to ask if jigs were being performed and will update, should I hear.

To give you a little more context about United's increased positive Buzz, its change in score was 4.6. The next highest change -- Delta's -- was a mere 1.5.

Some might be surprised that most companies' brand images were largely unaffected by their NRA decisions.

With United, one factor might be where its Buzz score was before the decision.

Of all the brands surveyed, it was the only one with a negative score: -2.4.

Here, the airline's decision was surely motivated by how it sensed many of its customers -- and many of its employees -- felt about this issue. 

This survey shows how just one gesture can make quite some difference.

Of course, if next week the airline drags another passenger down the aisle, the Buzz score will be back in the minuses again.

Published on: Mar 3, 2018
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