Throughout the search police session at SMX West, Matt Cutts responded a query on big brands. The inquiry was something like, why do big brands walk away with more spamming techniques than lesser brands?
Matt Cutts clarified saying that big brands are penalized all the time but you don't listen about most of them because they are not the initially to admit it. They generally keep it under the radar because it is not harmful for their brands.
Of course, several are not so off the radar like most recently Interflora's 11 day penalty. A WebmasterWorld thread is discussing this right now and most webmasters don't think that brands are not treated better when it comes to not being penalized or being penalized in a gentler manner.
Do you think brands get preferential treatment by Google?