Apple, P&G retain lead role

07 March 2011

NEW YORK: Apple, Google and Procter & Gamble are among the world's "most admired" companies, a report has argued.

Business title Fortune and the Hay Group assessed 1,400 of the largest global corporations, creating a shortlist of 673 firms in 57 sectors.

They then asked 4,100 senior executives and analysts to choose the ten organisations commanding the greatest levels of esteem.

Apple claimed top spot for the fourth successive year, praised particularly for a "blistering pace" of new product development, from the iPod in 2001 to the iPhone in 2007 and iPad in 2010.

"Every one of these has been a blockbuster," Steve Jobs, Apple's ceo, said last week at the iPad 2 launch event, a gadget he described as "magical".

Google, termed the "king of search", occupied second, bolstered by rapid sales of mobile handsets carrying its Android operating system, the continued growth of YouTube and rising display ad prices.

Berkshire Hathaway, founded by Warren Buffett, retained third, ahead of carrier Southwest Airlines, which was also named as one of eight "green stars" leading the way in tackling sustainability issues.

"Southwest had always been an extremely efficient airline, we just hadn't been talking about it," said Marilee McInnis, a PR manager at Southwest Airlines.

"Every time we reduce weight, we save fuel and reduce emissions. All of that is absolutely linked."

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, took fifth, lauded for its eco-friendly initiatives, such as the objective of making all packaging from recycled materials and only using renewable energy.

"That's not something that we can achieve in the next 20, 30 or 40 years, but we are putting the company on a path to achieve it," said Sauers.

The owner of Tide and Pampers has also endeavoured to educate customers and roll out products offering shoppers the traditional benefits, but are more environmentally friendly.

"[We've found] 70% to 80% percent of them really want to do the right thing, but they are not willing to accept trade-offs," Sauers added.

Soft drinks specialist Coca-Cola followed P&G, and has unveiled a new marketing campaign, Coke Music, which explicitly targets young consumers in 100 countries.

"Our success in growing our sparkling category today depends on our ability to grow and connect with teens, the generation of tomorrow," said Muhtar Kent, Coke's ceo.

Ecommerce pioneer Amazon resided in seventh, applauded for the Kindle e-book reader and moving into video streaming, while eighth-placed FedEx has profitably tapped nations like China and India.

"We credit this year's performance to our 285,000 FedEx team members worldwide who enable our company's success by delivering outstanding experiences every day," said Frederick Smith, FedEx's chief executive officer.

Microsoft, the information technology titan, and fast food chain McDonald's completed the top ten, according to Fortune.

The United States housed 238 of the featured organisations, easily beating of Germany's 21, Japan's 15, and the United Kingdom's 11.

However, the BRIC economies contributed a combined figure of just seven.

More broadly, Fortune suggested a "new competitive order" may be starting to assert itself, as overall leadership changed hands in 22 of the 57 segments monitored, the highest total ever.

Separate research from the Hay Group demonstrated 94% of Most Admired corporations let employees take "reasonable risks" to improve effectiveness, measured against 77% for all firms.

Equally, 81% of executives at the top operators agreed their enterprise used emerging technology and creative strategies well, and 87% were capable of "capturing and "diffusing" innovative ideas, versus scores of 72% and 74% as a norm.

Data sourced from Fortune; additional content by Warc staff