The exploits of Silicon Valley software guru John McAfee in Belize, Guatemala and Miami have hurt the brand of the company that bears his name, but company officials are standing pat.
Asked by CNN Money whether the company now owned by Intel is considering changing its name, co-president Todd Gebhart said, “No, no, no. John’s had an interesting lifestyle, but our customers understand the separation that takes place. The McAfee brand is associated with a company that protects their business and employees.”
Co-president Michael DeCesare told CNN Money that “He’s gotten a lot of coverage, and we’ve been following all of it.”
But McAfee Inc.’s top corporate customers have not expressed much concern, DeCesare said.
“They’re very educated about fact he’s not involved in the company anymore, and they know our brand isn’t tarnished,” DeCesare said.
McAfee founded the anti-virus software company McAfee Associates in 1987 in Santa Clara, and then quit the company in 1994. He then embarked on a circuitous journey that landed him in Belize, where he was named a “person of interest” in the death of his neighbor who was found with a single gun shot to the back of his head on Nov. 11.
After fleeing Belize and spending a bizarre week in Guatemala, where he continued to blog from a detention facility, McAfee was sent to Miami last week, where he continues to hold court surrounded by television cameras and reporters.
Meanwhile, consumer perception of McAfee, Inc. has fallen to its lowest point in five years, according to YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asked respondents, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”
YouGov BrandIndex has been tracking the McAfee Inc. brand for five years and it never scored in negative territory until it started slipping in September, YouGov BrandIndex reports.
McAfee Inc’s “Buzz score” was 35 on Sept. 7 and then plummeted to 20 in early November.
The decline accelerated in mid-November when McAfee’s flight from Belizean officials — with his 20-year-old girlfriend in tow –generated international attention.
By then, McAfee Inc.’s Buzz score had dropped to -17, according to YouGov BrandIndex.