Survey: 80% Say Brian Williams Should Lose His Anchor Seat

Shelli Weinstein | Variety

Brian Williams may have a hard time retaining his popularity with viewers considering the results of a survey commissioned by Variety regarding the news anchor’s false claims to have been on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq.

An overwhelming 80% think that Williams should no longer continue as a news anchor for NBC, according to a survey conducted Thursday by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev, who polled 1,000 people who either watched or read the anchor’s apology.

If Williams keeps his seat in the anchor chair, he will have to face an uphill climb to regain viewers trust. Seventy percent  of respondents surveyed by do not believe that Williams will overcome the mistake.

Eight out of 10 respondents reported that they will now struggle to believe what Williams says following his admission that he “made a mistake in recalling the events 12 years ago,” as he said during his Wednesday night newscast.

Seventy percent  did not describe Williams’ apology as sincere, with 60% believing that the anchor attempted to minimize the significance of his fabricated story in his apology.

Sehdev interpreted the result as a reflection that transparency, authenticity and responsiveness are the most critical elements of credibility in this case, even though Williams is still considered an experienced journalist.

“It’s no surprise that super savvy audiences today didn’t believe Williams’ scripted ‘fog of memory’ explanation or his apology. Williams didn’t tell the story to thank a ‘special veteran’ but falsified the story to celebrate himself,” noted Sehdev.

Half of the respondents believed that Williams changed his story in order to present himself as a hero, with slightly more answering that his celebrity status does not help his credibility.

The survey yielded one optimistic note for Williams: six out of 10 respondents indicated they would be willing to forgive him.

Jeetendr was interviewed by Variety on the Brian Williams reporting scandal. View the original article here


The Interview IS ‘Culturally Insensitive’

Andrew Wallenstein | Variety

The Interview” is not making a good first impression on those who watched the controversial movie in its first 24 hours of release, according to a new online survey conducted Thursday morning.

Seven out of 10 Americans characterized this cinematic satire of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “culturally insensitive.” Six out of 10 agreed that “The Interview” does not represent Hollywood filmmaking or American attitudes positively.

Commissioned by Variety, the quickie survey of 700 people who reported having watched the movie was conducted by celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev.

The findings add a new dimension to the reception for a film that, prior to its Christmas Eve debut online, was receiving widespread support of its release, citing concerns over free speech.

Asked how they felt about the film on a 10-point differential scale labelled from “proud” to “ashamed,” 33% responded in the “ashamed” range of numbers.

Eight in 10 people agree that had “‘The Interview’ been a more thoughtful, and purpose-driven movie with a strong opinion towards North Korean politics, they would have been proud of the movie,” according to Sehdev.

Half of those who said they would recommend watching the movie prior to its release changed their minds after watching the movie.

Turns out becoming a symbol of freedom of expression didn’t hold up for the movie for those watched it. Half of  them would not recommend the movie, despite the associated freedom of speech message. Three in 10 Americans said they would go so far as to actively recommend others not to watch the film despite the controversy.

Not even “The Interview” stars emerged from the movie unscathed. Though controversies typically increase celebrity interest levels between 12%-31%, according to Sehdev, the audience’s willingness to engage with James Franco and Seth Rogen have fallen by 12% and 10%, respectively. Those numbers were gauged by a bigger survey from Sehdev of 2,000 respondents.

“The Interview” has received mixed reviews from critics, currently scoring a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Jeetendr's study appeared as an exclusive in Variety. View the original article here


Survey: 72% Say NBC Should Cut Ties to Cosby

Andrew Wallenstein | Variety

NBC may want to consider the results of a survey regarding Bill Cosby commissioned by Variety, finding the overwhelming majority of respondents don’t feel the network should be in business with the comedian.

Seventy-two percent believe the Peacock should not go forward with a Cosby comedy series in development  in the wake of new sexual-assault allegations raised against him.

Fifty-one percent of the 1,000 people surveyed Monday by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev also reported thinking “the same” of the veteran comedian, more than the 41% who felt negatively and the 8% who reacted positively.

Sehdev interpreted that result as a reflection of the reservoir of goodwill the public retains regarding his body of work. “This is most likely driven by his family-centric, funnyman persona and his age,” he said.

Asked how likely they were to watch Cosby on TV in light of the allegations, 44% responded “not likely” while 35% were indifferent. The remaining 21% characterized themselves as “very likely,” which suggests the scandal may have created some degree of renewed interest in the comedian.

“However, the sexual assault allegation charges seem to have taken their toll on the number of people willing to engage with his brand,” noted Sehdev.

Most respondents believe Cosby guilty of the allegations he’s facing, with 59% of those surveyed believing the charges. A slightly higher number also felt Cosby should have responded verbally to the recent NPR interview in which he fell silent when asked about the women who have come forward suggesting he behaved inappropriately toward them.

Jeetendr was interviewed by Variety on the Bill Cosby sexual allegation charges. View the original article here


Survey: Neil Patrick Harris Outranked by Ellen DeGeneres as Oscar Host

Neil Patrick Harris has some big shoes to fill for his upcoming 2015 Oscar hosting gig, as a recent online poll finds he is generating less fan excitement than Ellen DeGeneres did when she announced last year.

In comparing surveys done at the time of each of their official announcements, 31% of respondents said that DeGeneres as host meant that they were very likely to watch the Oscars that year; versus 3% who said they are very likely to tune into the 2015 awards show because of Harris as host.

Also from the surveys, both with a sample size of 3,000 and conducted by celebrity brand strategistJeetendr Sehdev, 23% of respondents believed that DeGeneres was the best choice at the time to host; versus 6% that think the same for Harris. A number of people remain on the fence – as 56% and 19% answered “Maybe” for DeGeneres and Harris as best choice, respectively.

Although Harris might be at an initial disadvantage with audiences relative to DeGeneres, Sehdev believes that he can still succeed in his Oscar role.

“The Oscars are on a viewership upswing, so Neil Patrick Harris will likely ride the wave,” said Sehdev.

The online survey questionnaires asked people to assign a 1 to 10 rating to various questions, where a 1-3 answer translated to a “not likely” or “no” response; 4-6 meant “indifferent” or “maybe”; and 8-10 meant “very likely” or “yes.” Any 7 answer was thrown out.

Also for this year’s survey, people were asked to compare Harris with past hosts Steve Martin, Chris Rock and DeGeneres; plus a rumored wanted host who passed, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. People were asked to rank each on a scale of 1 (most want to host) to 5 (least want to host), with scores translated to a 100-point index. DeGeneres is most coveted by far with an 87 score; runners-up in descending order, are Rock, Louis-Dreyfus, Martin and Harris.

The following are responses to the survey:

How do you feel about Neil Patrick Harris/Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Oscars? (A rating scale of 1-10. 1=Don’t care and 10=Care a lot). 

Neil Patrick Harris:

Care a lot: 7%

Indifferent: 78%

Don’t care: 15%


Care a lot: 41%

Indifferent: 35%

Don’t care: 24%

(Note: Ellen’s ‘Don’t care’ number is higher that Neil Patrick Harris’s number (24% vs. 15%). However, Ellen’s brand is more polarizing and this ultimately makes for much stronger influence.)

Do you think Neil Patrick Harris/Ellen DeGeneres is the best host for the Oscars? (Options: Yes, No, Maybe)

Neil Patrick Harris:

Yes: 6%

No: 75%

Maybe: 19%


Yes:  23%

No: 21%

Maybe: 56%

How likely are you to watch the Oscars because Neil Patrick Harris/Ellen DeGeneres is hosting? (A rating scale of 1-10. 1=Not likely and 10=Very likely).

Neil Patrick Harris:

Very likely: 3%

Indifferent: 72%

Not likely: 25%


Very likely: 31%
Indifferent: 41%
Not likely: 28%

Rank from 1-5 the person you would most like to host the Oscars in 2015

(Options specific to Neil Patrick Harris: Ellen Degeneres, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Rock, Steve Martin 1=most 5=least). (done on a scale of 100)

1. Ellen Degeneres (87)

2. Chris Rock (43)

3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (36)

4. Steve Martin (27)

5. Neil Patrick Harris (3)

Jeetendr was interviewed by Variety on Neil Patrick Harris and the Oscars. View the original article here


Sofia Vergara, Eugenio Derbez Top Variety’s Power of Latinos List

There’s never been a better time to be Latino in Hollywood. Just ask Sofia Vergara, who is laughing all the way to the bank as the highest paid actress on television — and the one with the most enviable, not to mention, bilingual, endorsement portfolio.

Though she’s the most obvious example of brands targeting a Latino population wielding a purchasing power estimated at $1.5 trillion through a celebrity influencer, Vergara is hardly alone. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting the most successful Latino film and TV actors in Hollywood (10 men and 10 women). But rather than focus solely on their professional accomplishments, we went one step further, and looked at how influential and appealing they are within their own community.

It’s not about who makes the most money, wins the most awards or has the most followers on social media. We’ve seen those lists and there are few surprises there. What we wanted to explore was the relationship between mainstream success and that bond with the U.S. Latino audience. Ultimately, that’s the most valuable currency.

For this task, we commissioned celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev, who recently conducted a similar survey for Variety showing that YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream celebrities among American teens, to survey a random sampling of Latino men and women in both Spanish and English, across U.S. cities, acculturation levels and age groups.

While the Latino community is highly diverse, the study focused on the bigger themes that emerged across the board, including perceived authenticity, connectivity, reinvention, optimism, language, work ethic, community involvement and activism, humor, crossover appeal, desirability and individuality.

Two key findings: 78% of people surveyed agree that Latino celebrities who have crossed over into Hollywood from Spanish-language media are good role models for the community, and 83% agree that humor permits a heightened emotional connection and increases engagement between themselves and the celebrity — which perfectly explains why Vergara and Eugenio Derbez are both No. 1. The findings, as a whole, are the most compelling measure of these celebrities’ personal brand power, seen through the lens of the Latino consumer.

Jeetendr's power list study on the most influential Latinos appeared as an exclusive in Variety. View the original article here


The surprisingly profound reason why teenagers love YouTube celebrities

Caitlin Dewey | The Washington Post

For a hot minute in 2013, “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence was, without question, America’s most-beloved celebrity.

Lawrence stumbled, gracelessly, on Hollywood red carpets. She talked about pizza and spilled Tic Tacs onstage. Once she showed up to an award show completely plastered, to the alleged disdain of Miley Cyrus. She seemed, in short, like the kind of girl who could be your “BFF.”

But it wasn’t enough. On Wednesday, Variety published the results of a survey on teens’ perception of celebrity, and neither Lawrence nor other A-listers fared particularly well. Instead, teens gave high marks to Smosh.The Fine Bros. PewDiePie. All three are YouTube vloggers with webcams, slapstick senses of humor — and more than 56 million subscribers between them.

“This isn’t about age — it’s a behavioral change,” explained Jeetendr Sehdev, the celebrity brand strategist and USC professor who conducted the survey. “Teens today want their celebrities to be open and transparent. It’s a different dynamic … Teens are engaged in an entirely different way.”

The ascendancy of YouTube celebrities is not, of course, a new narrative or phenomenon in pop culture. Increasingly Hollywood studios and big-name producers recruit out of the YouTube ranks; just this week, E! signed YouTube star Grace Helbig for her own talk show, and in late June, a convention of YouTube stars drew more than 18,000 attendees.

But the mere fact that YouTube stars are popular is far less interesting thanwhy that’s so. Sehdev, who surveyed 1,500 teens, uses a proprietary method that measures participants’ emotional response to celebrities, according to metrics like how engaging, relatable and funny they seem. Sehdev has deployed the method with various age groups, to measure the appeal of a range of celebrities.

But when Sehdev sent this particular survey out to teens, he noticed something a bit different: They were captivated by the idea of “realness” in a way their parents or grandparents were not.

“Authenticity is becoming more important among teens and millennials,” Sehdev said. “They’re more jaded as a generation.”

To wit, teens in Sehdev’s survey overwhelmingly agreed that traditional celebrities were “faker” than YoTube stars. They felt YouTube stars were more engaging, “extraordinary,” humorous and relatable; they also considered their favorite vloggers brave and entrepreneurial, putting themselves out there in a way that other celebrities don’t.

In some respect, this all sounds pretty obvious: Surely any rational person would agree that an unvarnished beauty vlogger filming tutorials with her webcam is a bit “realer” than a multi-millionaire Hollywood glamazon with a fleet of personal stylists, nutritionists and chauffeurs.

But there was a time when we would have defined celebrity by exactly that quality of not being real — of being perfect and distant and unattainable, a kind of hyper-glamorized demigod that we mortals could only aspire to. In fact, historically, the fact that celebrities were not like was the very thing that made them celebrities: The cultural historian Fred Inglis, who traces the idea of celebrity back to changing ideas about selfhood and self-determination, c. the 18th century, called traditional celebrities the only “fully realized” individuals — the only people, in other words, who transcended the clutter of daily life and really, truly lived.

And that’s important, not merely as a subject for the Page Sixes of the world. Inglis calls celebrity a kind of “social adhesive” — a powerful system for communicating and modeling social values. What Sahdev suggests then, in effect, is that teens’ fundamental social values have changed.

He points to the economy, which cratered just as many millennials began looking for jobs, and the 45-percent divorce rate, which has eroded conventional family structures. Studies have repeatedly suggested that the social and economic environments children grow up in affects their future lives — why shouldn’t it change their values, too?

“This generation was raised in an environment where traditional structures were breaking down,” Sahdev said. “They’re looking for more meaning in celebrity.”

Granted, the teenage definition of “meaningful” is probably not the same as yours or mine: the comedy duo Smosh specialize in irreverent pop culture banter and bad Pokemon jokes, and PewDiePie’s absurdly popular channel alternates videos of him playing videogames with silly montages and meandering conversations with his girlfriend.

But all of the YouTubers do evoke a sense of intimacy and authenticity that even celebs like Jennifer Lawrence lack. After all, even though Lawrence tripped on a red carpet, she did it in a couture dress.

And increasingly, it would seem, America’s jaded, tech-enabled youth are just not that impressed.


Jeetendr was interviewed by The Washington Post on the power of YouTube celebrities. View the original article here


Survey: YouTube Stars More Popular Than Mainstream Celebs Among U.S. Teens

Susanne Ault | Variety

U.S. teenagers are more enamored with YouTube stars than they are the biggest celebrities in film, TV and music.

That’s the surprising result of a survey Variety commissioned in July that found the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are all YouTube faves, eclipsing mainstream celebs including Jennifer Lawrence and Seth Rogen. The highest-ranking figures were Smosh, the online comedy team of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, both 26.

Despite having minimal exposure in the mainstream media, another comedy duo, known as theFine Bros., Benny and Rafi, finished a close second, followed by the Swedish videogamer who has the most subscribers on all of YouTube, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg — otherwise known as PewDiePie. Interestingly, the highest-ranking non-YouTuber is Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car accident late in 2013.

The survey, conducted for Variety by celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev, asked 1,500 respondents a battery of questions assessing how 20 well-known personalities stacked up in terms of approachability, authenticity and other criteria considered aspects of their overall influence. Half the 20 were drawn from the English-language personalities with the most subscribers and video views on YouTube, the other half were represented by the celebrities with the highest Q scoresamong U.S. teens aged 13-17, as of March.

A score was then assigned to each YouTube and mainstream star based on how they fared in respondents’ answers to the questions, and the resulting number was translated to a 100-point scale. The top five — and six of the top 10 — were YouTube stars.

Drilling deeper into the survey, Sehdev found that YouTube stars scored significantly higher than traditional celebrities across a range of characteristics considered to have the highest correlation to influencing purchases among teens. YouTubers were judged to be more engaging, extraordinary and relatable than mainstream stars, who were rated as being smarter and more reliable. In terms of sex appeal, the two types of celebs finished just about even.

Looking at survey comments and feedback, teens enjoy an intimate and authentic experience with YouTube celebrities, who aren’t subject to image strategies carefully orchestrated by PR pros. Teens also say they appreciate YouTube stars’ more candid sense of humor, lack of filter and risk-taking spirit, behaviors often curbed by Hollywood handlers.

That should sound a warning to YouTube celebs looking to cash in on their fame via the traditional Tinseltown infrastructure, Sehdev notes.

“If YouTube stars are swallowed by Hollywood, they are in danger of becoming less authentic versions of themselves, and teenagers will be able to pick up on that,” Sehdev says. “That could take away the one thing that makes YouTube stars so appealing.”

Better perhaps that Hollywood take a page from the YouTube playbook, Sehdev observes. By encouraging unvarnished individualism, studios and networks can help foster traditional celebs’ appeal among younger demographics.

Q scores were determined to be the most reliable indicator for the survey’s selection of mainstream stars, whose popularity can be fleeting among teenage demographics. In addition, many prominent celebrities well known to younger consumers may not necessarily be the most popular among them because their prominence is driven more by notoriety, as opposed to true appeal.


Jeetendr's study revealing the influence of YouTube celebrities appeared as an exclusive in Variety. View the original article here


Gay Males Choose Ellen DeGeneres as Their Favorite Celebrity Endorser

Susanne Ault | Variety

Gay males have crowned talkshow personality Ellen DeGeneres their most admired celebrity, and have singled out her recent pitch work with Cover Girl as the advertising campaign they liked most in the past year.

DeGeneres closely aligns with the celebrity attributes – including being female, openly gay, smart and mature –  most favored in product endorsements by this consumer segment aged 18-54, according to a recent survey conducted by brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev.

Coinciding with these results, DeGeneres just announced that she and partner Burch Creative Capital (housing brands Tory Burch, Voss Water, among others) will be launching her own designed lifestyle brand, ‘E.D.’ Featuring home goods, clothing and accessories, the E.D. line will start rolling out this holiday season.

The survey of approximately 3,000 respondents, conducted for Variety, indicates not all attributes need to be present to win respect from gay consumers. Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bullock and Johnny Depp – one of which is male, and all of whom are or have been linked to heterosexual partners – are ranked among the most admired as well.

Advertisers are increasingly eager to attract this consumer demographic. In 2013, Witeck Communications and Harris Interactive estimated that LGBT adults are armed with buying power of about $800 billion and would soon exceed 16 million in number.

Widespread popularity is one attribute that doesn’t seem to be a major factor for this demo’s approval, as Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Hillary Clinton, Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum were identified as this group’s least admired celebrities.

The survey entailed asking gay males to name the three celebrities they most and least admired. Results were then assigned an index number and converted to a 100-pt scale, helping illustrate how these chosen celebs stack up against each other.

SOURCE: The Jeetendr Sehdev Index

Respondents were also asked to describe their admiration of specific openly gay celebrities, with DeGeneres, Jane Lynch, Rosie O’Donnell, Tim Gunn and Cynthia Nixon ranking highest. Ricky Martin, Portia De Rossi, Adam Lambert, Zachary Quinto and Lance Bass ranked lowest.

Additionally, gay males were given a selection of about 40 major celeb-centered advertising campaigns that hit over the last 12 months, and were asked which ones they liked best. Following DeGeneres and Cover Girl as their top pick, came Jane Lynch and Healthy Choice; Beyonce and Pepsi; Elton John and Pepsi; and Brad Pitt and Chanel.

Most important personality characteristics influencing purchase preferences are that endorsers are genuine, honest, trustworthy, intelligent and reliable. Least important are classy, tough, trendy, family-friendly and wholesome.

Pitt’s inclusion does indicate some mixed messages from respondents, who’ve also listed him as one of their least admired celebs. Similarly, although Beyonce and Pepsi are favored as a campaign pair, the singer is no match for DeGeneres. In a separate, back-to-back comparison of each celebrity’s influence on gay males, Beyonce scores a 6 and DeGeneres scores a 64, on a 100-point converted scale.

From a given selection of about 20 campaigns specifically targeted to the LGBT community, respondents listed as their top five, in descending order: Google Chrome ‘s”It Gets Better”; Amazon’s “Husbands”; JetBlue and its social media support of NBA player Jason Collins and Expedia’s “Find Your Understanding.”

Jeetendr's study appeared as an exclusive in Variety. View the entire article here