Captain Kangaroo understood that parents are the “ultimate role models.” What he didn’t say was that for millions of us—three generations of kids—he was almost as influential as our own parents.
One of the most important attributes any person can possess is the ability to influence others. Certainly, influence is even more essential for anyone who works in sales, and its effect is magnified exponentially for any person who plays the spokesperson role in television ads.
But what dynamics make one spokesperson more influential than another? And how can these attributes be identified and evaluated in the context of a celebrity’s ability to truly resonate with the public?
Based on decades of experience in matching celebrity spokespeople with products and services, combined with an understanding of consumer perceptions revealed by the InterMedia Entertainment (IME) DR Star Index®, the following are key considerations in selecting a celebrity brand ambassador:
- The celebrity’s fit with the target demographic and psychographic profile
- A potential spokesperson’s alignment and connection with the brand
- The compelling storyline that can be built around this association
- The ability to generate trust while being believable and credible
- The spokesperson’s ability to truly sell the product or offer
In addition to the above, direct response marketers should strive to find a brand ambassador who has previously influenced the target market in a positive manner.
More than any other characteristic, Influence is most closely linked with the ability to sell. Influence is the common denominator in all successful celebrity-based campaigns; if a celebrity cannot influence and therefore motivate the target market, nothing else matters.
No matter how influential a celebrity appears, if he or she can’t close the deal, that celebrity is of little use—especially in the DR space. This talent requires a specific mindset: First, the celebrity must be willing to sell; second, he or she must have an inherent ability to connect with consumers.
Prior to signing a celebrity, IME always breaks bread with the person and his or her manager or agent. We make a face-to-face assessment of whether they truly want to do the deal, have passion for the prospective relationship, can get behind the brand enthusiastically, and understand that one of the demands of an effective salesperson is to ask the consumer for the order personally.
Ranked by Resonance
Of the close to 1,000 celebrities that the DR Star Index tracks, Betty White is the top-rated celebrity overall, based on her high scores in the Index’s six key criteria: Likeability, Attractiveness, Trust, Influence, Relevance, and Recognition. What separates the former Golden Girl is her unsurpassed ability to resonate, and ultimately influence, a full spectrum of consumers, from millennials to Baby Boomers.
One of the demands of an effective salesperson is to ask the consumer for the order personally.
Since its inception, the DR Star Index has placed added emphasis on the celebrities who are currently lending endorsements on television. The accompanying chart (“The Influence Factor,” page 13) lists the top celebrities who are currently working as advertising spokespeople and have been evaluated by the public in the Index. When looking at the top performers in this category, the overall top-rated celebrity is Jennifer Lopez, who represents Children’s Miracle Hospital.
However, the No. 1-rated celebrity—tracked purely from an Influence perspective—is Adam Levine, who recently jumped from No. 9 on the list to the top slot, and has been an excellent spokesperson for Guthy-Renker, LLC’s Proactiv brand.
On the flip side, actor and ex-Senator Fred Thompson—last on the active spokeperson list—brings up the rear in all attribute categories with the exception of Recognition, where he ranked 23rd of 26 celebrities tracked. Other examples of celebrities who scored lower than average for Influence are Larry King (Omega XL) and Sharon Osbourne (Atkins).
Parents may be the most important influencers, and therefore role models, in their children’s lives. However, as evidenced by the list of celebrity spokespersons who perform best in their roles, the ability to influence consumer behavior is measured by sales chops—and it’s Levine and Lopez, Foreman and the Fonz who excel.
The Influence Factor: Top Current Celebrity Spokespeople
|2||Jennifer Lopez||Children’sMiracle Hospital||Charity||7||1||138.44||2.39|
|3||Henry Winkler||One Reverse Mortgage||Financial||26||3||129.60||2.36|
|5||George Foreman||InventHelp||Consumer Services||58||8||124.25||2.31|
|6||Joan Lunden||A Place for Mom||Senior Care||110||13||116.81||2.31|
|7||Alex Trebek||Colonial Penn||Insurance||19||2||130.95||2.30|
|8||Cindy Crawford||Meaningful Beauty||Health&Beauty||32||4||128.41||2.30|
|10||Florence Henderson||Medical Guardian||Senior Care||49||7||124.85||2.29|
|12||Valerie Bertinelli||Meaningful Beauty||Health&Beauty||89||12||120.04||2.26|
|14||Cal Ripken Jr.||New Day USA||Financial||211||20||107.66||2.23|
|19||Alan Thicke||Optima Tax||Financial||148||17||113.08||2.15|
|20||William Devane||Rosland Capital||Financial||258||22||104.74||2.13|
|21||Chuck Woolery||Willow Curves||Pain Relief||224||21||106.88||2.11|
|22||Brett Favre||Copperfit||Pain Relief||202||19||108.19||2.09|
|23||Montel Williams||Money Mutual||Financial||133||15||114.34||2.06|
|24||Larry Kind||Omega XL||Supplements||112||14||116.55||2.05|
|26||Fred Thompson||American Advisors Group||Financial||363||26||98.72||1.91|