IME Star Index: Dynamics of Celebrity Ranking Explained

The DR Star Index

Electronic RetailerThe InterMedia Entertainment (IME) DR Star Index® debuted in the July 2013 issue of Electronic Retailer to address a pressing need in the direct response industry: for an accurate measurement tool to identify, evaluate, and rank the best celebrities for DR marketing programs. Several tools were already available to advertisers to measure celebrity appeal, including the Q Score, the Davie Brown Index, and E-Score Celebrity. However, none of these are designed specifically to measure the unique attributes that determine the efficacy of a celebrity spokesperson within the context of a DR marketing program.

The IME DR Star Index® systematizes and quantifies nuances specific to successful DR advertising campaigns. As with similar research, it is important to remember that these scores and rankings are directional, not definitive. Selecting a spokesperson is similar to the initial construction of a direct response media buy, in which network/program evaluation and selection are based on each vehicle’s strength in delivering the target demographic, rate structure, and availability. Success ultimately depends on the results delivered relative to the cost involved.

Based upon various factors, a celebrity’s public perception can change significantly in a short period of time.

Likewise, with a DR spokesperson, a campaign’s success ultimately comes down to the celebrity’s ability to relate to a specific audience and sell the product; less important are overall recognition, attractiveness, and likeability. The IME DR Star Index’s true value lies in its ability to quantify a spokesperson’s potential to deliver.

Method to Market

In order to generate a sample representative of the United States’ national consumer base, the IME survey captures respondents from all 50 states, with an even distribution among age, gender, and income groups. As with the first DR Star Index®, we asked respondents to measure celebrities on the key attributes necessary to be an effective direct response spokesperson. These attributes included: Recognition, Trustworthiness, Attractiveness, and Influence. The survey resulted in more than 100 million data points, resulting in an error margin of +/- 7.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

To ensure higher accuracy, we refined the proprietary formula that measures and ranks celebrities based on these critical attributes. We also doubled the number of celebrities measured to capture a more comprehensive, dynamic list. Additionally, we placed extra emphasis on the celebrity rankings within each spokesperson-related attribute category. Due to these changes, we have revised our scoring system to better showcase the results. An “average” score in the index is 100. This month, IME shares its updated rankings, and delves into what the spokesperson rankings mean to broad demographic groups and in the critical Recognition category.

Recognition vs. Trust, Influence

While the Recognition factor is important, factors such as Trust and Influence bear greater weight in determining the rankings. Joan Lunden is a perfect example of this dynamic. While she did not rank in the top 25 percent overall in the Recognition category, she scores high in both Trust and Influence among women 35 and over. She has been an extremely effective spokesperson for A Place for Mom, the nation’s largest eldercare referral service, which targets women in that age group.

Conversely, Hulk Hogan ranks No. 1 in the Recognition category with a level of almost 98, but only achieves 70th place in the overall rankings due to lower scores on trustworthiness, attractiveness, and ability to influence purchase behavior. Justin Bieber scores highly in Recognition (more than 96 percent), but near the bottom of the Influence category, likely due to his recent partying and other shenanigans. Similarly, Donald Trump and Mike Tyson scored high in Recognition (97.59 percent and 92.17 percent, respectively), but low in Trust and Influence, and as a result, did not make it into the top 100. Clearly, simply being well-known is not sufficient for being an effective spokesperson.

In fact, none of the top four celebrities in Recognition ranks in the top 50 overall. Chuck Norris, whose credibility has been established through his history of playing authoritative good-guy roles, was the only celebrity ranked in the Top 10 in Recognition who also ranks in the top 50 overall.