British consumer research firm YouGov BrandIndex polls 5,000 adults every weekday to allocate a so-called buzz rating to some of the most important consumer brands in the world. The buzz rating of a brand can fluctuate wildly if, for example, a new product or service is announced. Let loose a piece of really good news and your buzz rating can hit 100 points. But negative news about a brand can send the buzz factor plummeting to minus 100 points. Sounds like TMZ-style ratings for corporations to us, but it's an important gauge of customer sentiment anyway.

As you might imagine, the past couple weeks have been a major buzz kill for BP, as millions of gallons of oil are floating across the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion of the oil platform and resulting oil disaster has lead BP to a buzz rating of about negative 60; a drop of over 100 points from pre-explosion levels. BP's score has dropped so far that the oil company has surpassed Toyota as the company at the bottom of the buzz barrel. Toyota's buzz rating dropped from superstar status to corporate cad in a matter of a few days due to its recent recall woes.

With thousands of square miles of contaminated sea water, a potentially ruined Louisiana fishing industry, a badly damaged ecosystem and no immediate fix for the problem, we're thinking Toyota's problems pale in comparison to BP's. Yet amazingly, BP's buzz rating isn't all that much worse than Toyota's.

[Source: TPM | Image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images]