New index rates Oprah's and other celebs' marketing muscle

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Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey scored highest on a new index designed to help advertisers decide which stars can best help them sell products.

Davie-Brown Entertainment is set to launch Monday a celebrity-evaluation index for brand marketers and their ad agencies. The company says the index will determine a celebrity's relevance to a brand's image and their influence on consumer-buying behavior.

The so-called Davie-Brown Index, or DBI, will be compiled and managed by i.think inc. based on surveys of its 1.5 million-member research panel, which is demographically balanced across the country, said Jeff Chown, president of Davie-Brown Talent. More than 1,500 celebrities will be included in the index, which evaluates celebrities based on eight key attributes: appeal, notice, trendsetting, influence, trust, endorsement, aspiration and awareness.

"The main reason we created the DBI was because there was a void in the industry," Chown said. "There was no tool created for brands by brands to evaluate celebrities and their influence. The ideais to provide marketers with a systematic approach for quantifying and qualifying the use of celebrities."

TAILORED TO ADVERTISERS

Chown said that though there are two other services that evaluate celebrities, neither was created for brands or provides advertisers the information they need to determine whether they should hire a celebrity for their marketing campaigns.

"We're trying to determine whether this person would help sell a product to a particular demographic," he said. "Brands and their agencies were asking for this information, and it wasn't there. We felt as the industry leader in signing celebrities for corporations that it was our obligation to fill that void."

For the DBI, each key attribute is evaluated on a six-point scale, which is then converted to a score based on a 100-point scale to make it easier for the brand or agency to understand, Chown said. For all attributes except awareness, respondents are asked multiple questions that lead to the score for that attribute. Each attribute also is broken down demographically by gender, age and ethnicity, and then all the attributes are combined for an overall DBI score. The surveys are presented to randomly selected respondents at least four times a year.

Chown said Davie-Brown determined the eight attributes for the index based on interviews with 10 ad and public relations agencies and their clients.

TWO-DAY SERVICE

Davie-Brown also will offer its clients a service called DBI Express, which tabulates a score for any celebrity within 48 hours. "Brands can gain an immediate perspective on how recent developments have affected a celebrity's attributes or how lesser-known celebrities rate through a service unmatched in the industry," Chown said.

He added that Davie-Brown hopes its new index will help set market rates for celebrities as corporate endorsers. "Once it becomes standardized in the industry, you'll be able to associate a price with DBI scores, which in turn will offer measurable ROI (return on investment), which is the name of the game."

The index, which was developed with input and counsel from founders club members BBDO Worldwide, Young & Rubicam and Porter Novelli, will cost $20,000 a year for unlimited online access to DBI reports, tailored spreadsheets with comparisons of requested celebrities and reduced rates for DBI Express requests. An individual celebrity report will cost $1,000.

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