Apple is the most influential company in the world, according to 2,000 ad executives polled by Brandchannel.

The annual survey asks respondents to rate the impact of a particular brand on people's lives. Second in the global list is Google, which took the top spot from Apple back in 2002.

Brandchannel editor Robin Rusch told Reuters: "Apple's just done an extraordinary job with innovation, technology and design. The iPod is what has put Apple in the lead this year."

In third place is Ikea, followed by Starbucks in fourth, and in fifth place, Arabic media channel Al Jazeera. Brandchannel editor Robin Rusch said: "With all the news from Iraq and Afghanistan and the 'war on terror', a lot of people are really tuned into the news, and the major news sources have a western bias."

While Apple headed up the list globally and in North America, the company did not figure at all in the top five for Europe and Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and Latin America.

In Europe the top five influencers are Ikea, Virgin, H&M, Nokia and Al-Jazeera.