Redundancy scandal: Public sentiment towards P&O Ferries plumbs new depths
April 7th, 2022, Jules Newby

Redundancy scandal: Public sentiment towards P&O Ferries plumbs new depths

P&O Ferries’ sacking of 800 seafarers made an immediate impact on public perceptions of the brand. Our latest data shows that, with 10 days passing since the mass redundancies were announced, general opinion of the shipping company has fallen several fathoms lower.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, Buzz scores for P&O Ferries (which are a net measure of whether consumers have heard anything positive or negative about a brand) were at -24 on March 20. They have since fallen to -60.7 as of March 27 (-36.7). Further developments in the story such as CEO Peter Hebblethwaite’s admission to MPs that he broke the law over the sackings have likely contributed to these worsening scores.

At -10.7, P&O Ferries’ Impression scores (a measure of overall positive and negative sentiment) was poor last week (20 March) – but this may look like a high-water mark compared to its latest score of -59.3 (27 March): a drop of nearly 50 points (-48.6). The brand has recently come under fire for offering “poverty pay” to replacement seafarers, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps threatening to ban the company from operating on UK routes unless workers are paid the national minimum wage.

Overall Index scores (a measure of overall brand health using an average of Impression, Value, Quality, Reputation, Satisfaction, and Recommend scores) may paint a fuller picture of the story’s impact on P&O Ferries. While they were at -4.1 on March 20, as of March 27 they are scraping the briny depths at -35.5 (-31.4).

Finally, P&O Cruises’ repeated efforts to clarify that it is not P&O Ferries appear to have been for naught. The company may have had nothing to do with the redundancy scandal (it is a wholly different company), but it is still suffering for it in the eyes of the public: the latest data shows that Index scores sunk from -0.1 to -15.0 (-14.9) between the 20th and 27th of March.

This piece originally appeared in the Drum.