InterMedia Entertainment (IME) developed and launched the DR Star Index® early in 2013 with a simple but ambitious goal: provide direct response advertisers who are considering the use of a celebrity spokesperson as a brand ambassador with a cutting-edge measurement tool to evaluate and rank potential candidates.
To date, the DR Star Index has surveyed a representative cross-section of the American public to quantify perceptions of hundreds of celebrities in six key direct response spokesperson attributes: Recognition, Attractiveness, Trust, Influence, Likeability, and Relevance. We developed an algorithm that weighs the relative importance of each attribute based on a product or service category, and then generates indexed scores and rankings for the celebrities.
Now, the DR Star Index has taken its measurement of celebrity endorsement potential a step further, making the selection process more comprehensive and accountable for advertisers and celebrity representatives alike. IME accomplished this by integrating applicable data points from established consumer research platforms into Index results. DR Star Index Version 2.0 identifies and integrates key psychographic, demographic, and media usage habits into the consumer profiles of the most devoted supporters of specific celebrities, whom we call Core Fans.
In this regard, the Index goes beyond helping an advertiser select the appropriate celebrity for reaching its target consumer; it now also provides direction for brands regarding the positioning and messaging strategies that best communicate with a celebrity’s Core Fan base. In this way, the DR Star Index has evolved into a tool that provides actionable direction for optimizing campaign positioning, messaging, and media strategies for celebrity-centric campaigns.
Ultimately, the enhanced methodology will offer agents, managers, and advertisers targeted reporting and analysis, informed by the Index’s own consumer research and top industry sources used widely by ad agencies and brand marketing departments. By incorporating the additional information, Version 2.0 can detect established and emerging patterns of marketplace segmentation and build a picture of prospect lifestyle behavior that advertisers can incorporate into upcoming and ongoing campaigns to help lift response and efficiency.
IME is collaborating with two leading online market research companies that specialize in consumer data. These relationships have resulted in two new reporting features for the Star Index: Fan View and Brand Alignment. Fan View defines the demographics and lifestyles of those identifying themselves as strong devotees of specific celebrities, while Brand Alignment brings visibility to the brand preferences, product use, and buying styles of those Core Fans.
Fan View and Brand Alignment are based on the GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, an industry-standard data source for demographics and lifestyles of consumers and media audiences. Knowing the demographic, psychographic, and media characteristics of Core Fans gives advertisers direction for optimizing campaign positioning, messaging, and media strategy.
Version 2.0 in Action
To demonstrate the full capabilities of the enhanced DR Star Index, we isolated the latest results for the popular actor Mark Harmon to illustrate the types of information and correlations now available to brands and celebrity management.
The American public has consistently ranked Harmon as an overall top celebrity in the DR Star Index. Placing No. 5 overall in the latest update, he is perceived positively in all six spokesperson attribute categories. Harmon’s appeal doesn’t translate uniformly across all demographic subsets or for all types of products and brands, of course. But by isolating the Index results of his Core Fans, a more definitive picture emerges about the companies and demographic subgroups most likely to benefit from a spokesperson relationship with Harmon.
The charts on the next page highlight Harmon’s key Index scores among Core Fans, viewed from a cross-section of demographic and brand alignment perspectives. Under “U.S. Average,” a score of 100 represents the norm among all U.S. consumers, so any Core Fan Index score above that figure reflects a positive association—and the higher the score, the more robust the association.
The Fan View chart shows slices of the demographic profile of Harmon’s Core Fans relative to the general public. It represents just a small example of the type of data now available; V2.0 can generate corresponding results for every demographic category and subgroup reported by the research sources.
The results show that relative to the average U.S. consumer, Harmon’s Core Fan base is more highly educated, with the correlation increasing along with completed academic levels. Core Fans have above-average household income and household net worth; they are almost twice as likely to own a home of above-average value or on large acreage; and they tend to be slightly older and are somewhat more likely to be married.
Any advertiser considering Mark Harmon as its spokesperson can now compare its most productive customer and prospect profiles with that of Harmon’s Core Fans as an initial step in understanding whether the relationship has the potential to be a strong one.
The Brand Alignment chart depicts Harmon’s Core Fans’ scores relative to selected product and service categories that are frequent advertisers and often use celebrities as spokespersons. The data represents just a few examples of the hundreds of companies for which this research is compiled.
These correlations key in on Harmon’s strengths for any company looking to validate his appeal to its primary target, its category in general, and its brand in particular. To ensure that any potential spokesperson relationship doesn’t carry unforeseen complications, the process should be expanded to include an analysis of any corresponding weaknesses, too. Key takeaways from Harmon’s Brand Alignment findings include:
- For automotive, dining, travel, or financial products, Harmon exhibits appeal for an association with upscale products and services.
- In the automotive category, Harmon shows significant spokesperson potential for upscale vehicles. However, his scores are somewhat higher for domestic manufacturers.
- Harmon shows particular strength in the Travel & Hospitality category.
- Harmon appears to show excellent potential as a company spokesperson in the financial services sector. With American Express, there is a positive correlation between usage by his Core Fans and the card’s exclusivity level. For mutual funds, Harmon shows strength for all companies surveyed.
Conversely, Harmon would not be a prudent choice for certain product categories. For instance, while he is clearly a strong match to represent upscale brands such as Cadillac and Mercedes, his Index scores for lower-end models, such as the Ford Escort and Toyota Corolla, are well below average.
The decision to hire a celebrity spokesperson as a brand ambassador is one that can have enormous implications for an advertiser—positive and negative. Human nature being what it is, the evaluation and selection process will never be completely foolproof, but with the DR Star Index V2.0, the element of surprise surrounding an expensive, far-reaching decision can be mitigated.