FAME, remember my name

Mark Husak, media development director for Europe, Millward Brown, reveals the results of this quarter’s Cebra celebrity brand analysis study

Asked to name which celebrities are most marketable, many marketers would surely come up with a similar top ten list of names.

But how many would instinctively place Judi Dench and Joanna Lumley on their list? Millward Brown’s Cebra (Celebrity and Brand) research tracks UK attitudes to 100 celebrities and 100 brands by asking 2,000 UK 18 to 65 year-old consumers revealing questions. The study aims to help marketers and media agencies identify celebrities and brand partnerships with the greatest marketplace potential.

Judi Dench and Joanna Lumley come in at numbers six and seven in the list of celebrities with most power, and this is in large part due to their high scores as likeable, positive role models. The Cebra research goes beyond existing ratings of how well celebrities are known by consumers (Familiarity) to include measures of how well they are liked (Affinity) and how much buzz they are creating (Media Attention).

The Cebra rating now also includes, for the first time, Marketability, a combination of whether they are thought to be a positive role model and how talented they are perceived to be. The resulting scores add up to a Cebra rating that measures the attractiveness of celebrities to marketers.

First place in the latest Cebra research goes to David Beckham, which might not sound all that surprising until you consider that he no longer lives in the UK, and a generation of children growing up today has probably never even seen him play football.

The power of his celebrity has risen (from number three to number one) despite only being seen suited and sitting on the bench at this summer’s World Cup. Perhaps the dismal performance of the England players has left brand Beckham basking in the glow of nostalgia?

Kylie Minogue falls from first to third in the latest research perhaps because of the controversy over the explicit nature of her “All the lovers” video; while Ant & Dec (considered one person for these purposes) rise from fourth to second place. And Gary Lineker, debuting at number 10, must be doing a good job with Walkers crisps to rate so highly.

The key measures of marketability are whether a celebrity is thought to be a positive role model and how talented he or she is perceived to be. Being talked about a lot also helps. But not all publicity is good publicity – or is it? The Cebra research identifies Amy Winehouse, Katie Price and Ashley Cole as negative role models, but can the buzz surrounding a celebrity be so bad that it’s good? Edgy brands do consider negative role models to have huge pulling power.

So what makes a perfect, marketable celebrity? Being likeable, a positive role model, familiar, talked about, written about, and talented would be a start. But interestingly, TV actors lose out to film actors, who are seen as being more talented, and are often less exposed.
Meanwhile, sporting memories make a better impression than recent (bad) results, as Beckham is testament to. Dames and Sirs don’t go down too badly at all, and the young and the old seem equally likely to appeal to the public and to marketers in search of the ideal brand partnership.

Millward Brown’s Cebra study ranks celebrities with the highest Cebra score among UK adults aged between 18 and 65. The top 10 are:

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