Mr. Bates has taken the Post Office’s brand to historic lows
January 31st, 2024, Christien Pheby

Mr. Bates has taken the Post Office’s brand to historic lows

The broadcast of Mr. Bates vs The Post Office – an ITV drama focused on the Horizon scandal, which saw hundreds of subpostmasters prosecuted due to errors with the Post Office’s accounting software – has had a clear impact on the institution’s public image. 

Index scores, a measure of overall brand health that averages several metrics, we can see that scores (using a 4-week moving average) have fallen to 8.4 as of 15 January 2024: the lowest scores we have recorded in the past decade. Scores were at 22.9 the day before Mr. Bates aired (31 December), and while they have historically fluctuated, the previous low point over this period was 18.8 (9 Jan 2023). 

Reputation scores (which track whether UK consumers would be proud or embarrassed to work for an organisation) have declined to -3.1 as of 15 Jan 2024. These scores were at 13.3 the day before ITV’s drama aired, and have not otherwise been negative in the past decade; the previous low was 9.5 (5 Jan 2023). 

Impression scores, which measure overall positive and negative sentiment, plummeted from 29.0 the day before the drama aired, to 4.5 as of 15 January 2024. Previously, these scores had not dipped below 20 in the past decade, with a prior nadir of 21.6 (12 Jan 2023). 

Over the past decade, the Post Office’s brand has largely remained resilient – despite regular reporting on the scandal from outlets such as Computer Weekly, the quashing of dozens of convictions, and group litigation from the affected subpostmasters. For however long, Mr. Bates Vs. The Post Office appears to have dented its public image.