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


The 7 Biggest Comeback Brands Of 2015

Aaron Taube | Business Insider

It has been a difficult year for a number of brands, ranging from newer companies like American Apparel to stalwarts like McDonald's.

Fortunately for these companies, nothing is permanent. We spoke with three branding experts to get their take on which struggling business and personal brands are poised to come back strong next year.

American Apparel

The controversial clothing retailer removed founder Dov Charney from his CEO position in June, reportedly after his board of directors became concerned that he had not been truthful in responding to claims that he had sexually harassed his employees.

Jeetendr Sehdev, a celebrity branding expert and professor at the University of Southern California, expects the company's new leadership to return the brand to prominence with its trademark provocative advertising and a new campaign starring dancing YouTube sensation Brendan Jordan.

"American Apparel remains a challenger brand imbued with masses of cultural currency that perfectly positions itself for 2015," Sehdev says.


The yoga-inspired athletic retailer spent 2014 working to recover from a disastrous 2013, when it had to recall 17% of its bottoms for being too sheer and its founder made comments indicating that women who had a problem with the size of Lululemon's clothes were too fat to be wearing them.

But as 2015 draws near, it seems Lululemon is turning a corner. Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of the strategy firm Vivaldi Partners, thinks the company is in for a resurgence in the New Year.

Joachimsthaler predicts that the company's new ventures into menswear will make everyone forget the mistakes of 2013. Plus, the recent drop in oil prices will help make its products cheaper to produce.


The world's most famous fast-food brand struggled in 2014 as young people continued to seek personalized, organic options over the brand's signature mass-produced hamburgers and chicken nuggets. Meanwhile, the company was the target of nationwide protests from workers seeking higher wages.

Sehdev says that in 2015, the Golden Arches will succeed with the implementation of re-designed restaurants, a mobile ordering app, and the "Create Your Taste" sandwich option, a test program that allows people to customize their own hamburgers with high-quality ingredients.

"Next year we'll see the start of a necessary re-imagining of the iconic brand as McDonald's demonstrates a greater understanding of business ethics and consumer purpose," Sehdev says.


JetBlue started 2014 by stranding a bunch of passengers in Barbados after canceling flights due to cold weather. Later in the year, it eliminated several features that had been the brand's hallmarks, including its one-class-fits-all boarding system, its promise of generous legroom for all passengers, and its refusal to charge a baggage check fee.

Joachimsthaler sees the company bouncing back in 2015, as it begins to make more money from courting high-end, first-class passengers and its geographic expansion into the midwest. He also thinks consumers will be won over by an emotional new ad campaign, through which the company is giving free flights to citizens who perform good deeds.

Justin Bieber

Biebs began the year by getting arrested for drag racing without a license while allegedly under the influence of Xanax and marijuana. He also made headlines for getting into a fight with actor Orlando Bloom, while otherwise keeping a fairly low profile.

Sehdev sees a 2015 resurgence for Bieber due to the release of a new song and renewed interest from fans who admire his willingness to be his bad boy self in public, regardless of what the critics say.

"There is only one Bieber and his brand not only remains differentiated from a plethora of other pop stars but also is now more humanized than ever before," Sehdev says. "Justin's authentic persona is rewarded with Beliebers that are nearly three times as loyal as other fan followings."


The National Football League's concussion issue lingered throughout the year, as players fought in court over the fairness of a legal settlement that could cost the league $1 billion. And later in the year, several teams dealt with lawsuits alleging they had paid cheerleaders below minimum wage.

Of course, the negative media coverage from those proceedings paled in comparison to what came after the league ignored allegations that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulted his wife in an elevator and TMZ published video footage of the incident. The league also endured criticism when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted for allegedly assaulting his four-year-old son with a tree branch.

Matti Leshem, founder and CEO of the brand strategy firm Protagonist, thinks the NFL is poised to turn its public image around in 2015, in large part due to its hiring of former Pepsi executive Dawn Hudson to be its chief marketing officer.

Leshem, who worked with Hudson when she was at Pepsi, says her willingness to consider outside-the-box ideas and experience reaching out to constituents on the consumer side will give her the power to redirect fans' attention to the league's on-field action.

"She's an incredibly formidable, very strong woman," Leshem tells Business Insider. "She is going to make a huge difference because she really understands marketing and advertising."

Many people called for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to resign due to the league's poor handling of the Ray Rice incident.


The past year was one of change for Target, which suffered a massive customer data breach at the end of 2013 that will end up costing the company an estimated $148 million. The breach caused CEO Gregg Steinhafel to step down in May, with the company hiring Pepsi executive Brian Cornell to replace him.

Sehdev thinks the brand will return to glory in 2015 due to its unique visual identity, which makes it stand out from Sears and Wal-Mart, and new partnerships with Taylor Swift and Billy Joel.

"The retailer's efforts at creating innovative brand-centric shopping experiences, such as partnerships with Taylor Swift and Billy Joel, will not only further its perception as a dynamic brand in tune with today's audiences but also revive some of that 'Targé' mojo in the hearts and minds of consumers," Sehdev says.

Jeetendr was interviewed by Business Insider on his top comeback brands for 2015. 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


No. 1 With a Bullet: ‘Nadeshot’ Becomes a Call of Duty Star

Conor Dougherty | The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Matt Haag, a professional video game player, makes close to a million dollars a year sitting in a soft chair smashing buttons. It is a fantastically sweet gig, and he will do about anything to keep it.

That is why, on a recent morning, he was in a bungalow in Venice Beach, Calif., making pancakes. Not just regular pancakes, but high-protein pancakes with ingredients like flax oil and chia seeds, whose balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein was created by a dietitian hired to teach him how to eat more healthily.

The pancakes were just the beginning of a monthlong training session that Red Bull, one of Mr. Haag’s sponsors, organized for him and his team, OpTic Gaming. Over the next several days, he and his fellow players gave blood while riding stationary bicycles, had their brains mapped by a computer and attended an hourlong yoga class where they learned, among other things, how to stretch their throbbing wrists. The purpose of all this: to help them get better at blowing their opponents away in video games.

Three years ago, he was flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Today Mr. Haag, 22, skinny and blindingly pale, makes his living playing Call of Duty, a popular series of war games where players run around trying to shoot one another.

Mr. Haag has 1.5 million YouTube subscribers along with a lucrative contract to live-stream his daily game sessions online. Known as Nadeshot (shorthand for “grenade shot”), he travels the world playing tournaments as spectators pack arenas to see him. At home near Chicago, he has a problem with fans showing up at his house.

And while most pro gamers have to settle for modest sponsorships with companies that make things like game controllers and headphones, Mr. Haag last year also attracted Red Bull, the energy drink, which has traditionally built its marketing around skateboarders, motocross riders and other extreme-sports athletes. Mr. Haag is one of six people on its roster of e-sports players, and it is showering them with the same attention and training it has lavished on athletes who compete in the real world.

For the trip to Los Angeles, Red Bull paid for Mr. Haag and his teammates to live in Venice Beach. During the day, the company shuttled them to its headquarters in Santa Monica for workouts and other training. At night, they lingered in a high-tech studio and played video games into the wee hours.

Mr. Haag is the face of the growing business of video games as a spectator sport. Thanks to live tournaments and online video-streaming sites like Twitch, which Amazon bought for $1 billion in August, video games have become something to watch, not just play.

But fans need someone to root for, and that is where Mr. Haag comes in. He has the requisite marks of a champion, like tournament victories and a compelling back story. And he certainly looks like a gamer: On the recent morning in Venice, his pancake-making attire consisted of a T-shirt, knee-length shorts and a backward baseball cap.

Most important, though, is his compulsion to share his life — on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. He is, more or less, the producer, director and star of his own reality show.

Mr. Haag’s YouTube channel is in the top 1 percent of the 220,000 channels tracked by the analytics tool OpenSlate. Beyond YouTube, Mr. Haag has become the No. 1 player on MLG.TV, the site where people watch him play live.

An Online Video Star

What makes him so watchable? A recent survey performed by Jeetendr Sehdev, a marketer who focuses on celebrity branding, said that teenagers found YouTube stars easier to relate to and more candid than famous people from places like Hollywood.

Mr. Haag’s fans are right in line with this thinking. They seem to regard him as an exceptionally interesting friend.

For example, Kasey Young, 21, of Cleveland has learned through social media and streaming that Mr. Haag drives a BMW, often eats at Chipotle and likes to say “wallbong,” a nonsense term he made up with friends. Mr. Young said he now finds himself saying “wallbong” at work at random times.

“If he knew me in real life, I feel like we would be really good friends,” Mr. Young said.

Mr. Haag’s videos, raw and unproduced, add to this feeling of intimacy. In addition to game video, his YouTube channel has regular updates in which he appears revealing and honest, posting, for example, travel diaries in which he sits on a hotel bed and tells fans about his day. He also put up an old home video in which his awkward younger self makes an alien face for the camera and then pulls up his T-shirt to show off his bony chest.

Fans get to see interpersonal drama, like an episode last year when one of his OpTic comrades quit the team and accused Mr. Haag of blaming him for a tough tournament loss. And although he has a mostly male audience and has made his reputation as a video game killer, he is not afraid to be vulnerable.

Fans know that Mr. Haag’s mother suffered from seizures for most of his life. When she died two years ago, he sat on a couch at home and recorded a YouTube video in which he thanked followers for their heartfelt messages on Twitter. He appeared distraught and shaken but also genuinely thankful.

Both his fans and his detractors agree that this connection with his public is what sets Mr. Haag apart and makes him “a people’s champion,” as Sundance DiGiovanni, chief executive of Major League Gaming, a gaming league, put it.

“If you’re talking about YouTube and fan outreach, he’s the No. 1 player by far,” said Mike Rufail, the owner of Team EnVyUs, OpTic’s chief rival. “But in terms of raw talent, he’s a top 15 player — I wouldn’t put him in that top three or four guys.”

Mr. Haag doesn’t care what his opponents think. He makes several times his father’s salary playing video games, and earlier this year bought a $3,000 watch. The only thing he wants is to hold onto his job.

“I think about my future probably at least 10 times a day,” he said. “I think about what if this all goes away one day? What if for some reason people just aren’t in your live stream tomorrow? What if people aren’t clicking on your YouTube videos tomorrow? What if your team doesn’t work out and you’re not performing that well and you have to quit competitively? What happens when you can’t compete anymore and you want to retire because you’re going insane?”

Alone With the Xbox

As Mr. Haag was growing up in the Chicago area, his parents did not need to worry about where he was on the weekends: He was usually upstairs playing video games. Parties made him anxious. And instead of marijuana or alcohol, the sugary rush of an energy drink was his drug of choice and still is.

“He was more of a loner,” said his father, Jeff Haag, 50, a carpenter. “He gamed a lot.”

Up in his bedroom, clutching an Xbox controller and surrounded by posters of the Chicago Bulls and Muhammad Ali, Mr. Haag had a place where he belonged. To friends and rivals he met through his Xbox, he was not a wallflower but a fierce competitor who could be a domineering teammate.

“Countless times I would put my head in the door and be like, ‘Shut the hell up,' ” his father said. “He’s like yelling at people when they weren’t doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing.”

Mr. Haag’s competitive career began seven years ago, when he was 15, with online tournaments organized through his Xbox, as well as small local contests held in banquet halls. Five years ago, his uncle took him to a tournament in Anaheim.

The uncle, Greg Haag, remembered that the contest hall was hot and reeked of sweat and warm semiconductors, and that Mr. Haag was disappointed with his fourth-place finish.

But the right people had already taken notice. Around the same time, Hector Rodriguez, a onetime insurance analyst who controlled a pickup team, OpTic Gaming, was trying to build it into a real business. He enticed Mr. Haag to join OpTic by offering to pay for travel and lodging at tournaments.

Two years later, Mr. Haag went back to California for the Call of Duty championships, only this time with Mr. Rodriguez instead of his uncle. The $1 million purse made it one of the world’s most prominent gaming events.

Mr. Haag led OpTic to a first-place finish and the $400,000 top prize. This brought him a wave of publicity and a $100,000 check.

Today, Mr. Rodriguez acts as Mr. Haag’s agent, mentor and chief scheduler. Unlike most agents, he doesn’t take a cut; Mr. Haag keeps all of his money from sponsors and contests. But Mr. Rodriguez owns the OpTic brand and controls the merchandise sales along with OpTic’s live stream and YouTube videos. In essence, this means he makes money from video ads and selling T-shirts.

OpTic Gaming is now a big enough business that Mr. Rodriguez rents a house in Hoffman Estates, outside Chicago, where Mr. Haag and his teammates practice Call of Duty all day. Mr. Rodriguez lives a few miles away so he can make sure everyone is working hard — that they are busy playing video games.

Mr. Haag and his teammates have become famous, which has made the house a target for pranks. Late last year, someone called 911 and claimed that armed intruders were breaking in, apparently hoping that the police would show up with guns drawn.

It worked: Local police appeared with AR-15 rifles. But instead of bad guys, they found Mr. Haag and his roommates playing video games near a stack of pizzas. The pizzas had been ordered earlier in the evening, and were also a prank. Mr. Haag said he and his roommates paid for them because they felt bad for the delivery man.

Sharing Every Detail

The day after the pancake lessons, Mr. Haag was in Red Bull’s game studio wearing a contraption like a swimming cap that was full of wires and attached to a computer. The idea was to see how his brain functioned under the stress of video game combat. This would help Red Bull’s trainers and sports therapists design exercises to help him stay calm and shoot better.

To perform the test, a Red Bull “sports technologist” had Mr. Haag fire up Call of Duty and start shooting. Whether or not this will help his performance, it paid instant dividends for his image. The first thing Mr. Haag did after the test was post a photo of himself in the cap of wires to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Mr. Haag said, “Social media is the most important part of what I do.” Even though Mr. Haag calls himself a professional video game player, he is really an online video star. The money he wins in contests is tiny compared with the money he makes from his live stream and YouTube videos.

His command over his audience is great enough that Major League Gaming recently enticed him to leave Twitch and stream exclusively with its site. He is on track to make around $700,000 from streaming and his YouTube channel this year. Throw in his other sponsorships and contest winnings, and he is well on his way to a million-dollar year.

But Mr. Haag is paid per viewer, so he has to keep producing.

One night at Red Bull’s studios, he played Call of Duty over the Internet for his fans. When Mr. Haag competes, he sits upright in his chair and screams back and forth with his teammates in a way that is reminiscent of a Wall Street trading desk. But this night was more casual: He was jumping from game to game and playing with whoever was online right then.

He had filled the stream with hip-hop so his viewers could hear beats and rhyming lyrics over the din of digital gunfire and grenades. His face was lit up by a pair of screens, one with Call of Duty and another with a rolling list of fan questions like “How was the Brain Testing?” and “Nadeshot can you say ‘What’s up Blake?' ”

He talked for the entire five or so hours that he played — about the game, about hip-hop, about how his desire for an In-N-Out burger was fighting with his newfound resolve to eat healthily. At times he sang rap lyrics.

It looked like a cross between social media and talk radio, if talk radio had a visual component where a bunch of digital characters shoot one another. And as a form of entertainment, it seemed perfectly suited to a world where people jump around browser windows, watching a video in one, checking Facebook in another.

The Internet, with its infinite space and insatiable demand, has turned Mr. Haag’s pastime into a drudging obligation. But it is better than McDonald’s, which is why he spends so much time worrying that his game career will end and that he will have to figure something else out.

Mr. Haag may be only one year above the legal drinking age, but his fan base is largely teenagers. Just as he and other gamers have upset the media landscape by teaching children to watch video games like TV, they live with the near-constant threat that their audience will abandon them for something or someone else.

On another evening, Mr. Haag, bags under his eyes, wanted to take a night off and go back to the house in Venice. He asked his teammates if they wanted to go with him. They declined.

Instead of letting his teammates siphon off fans who could be watching him, Mr. Haag changed his plan and stayed for yet another marathon session of streaming.

“I would love to go home and hang out, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said. “Can’t complain too much, playing video games for a living.”

Jeetendr was interviewed by The New York Times for its front page article on Matt Haag and Red Bull. View the original article here


Forget the Kate effect, Lauren Pope and Binky Felstead are more influential in the style stakes than the Duchess of Cambridge

Bianca London | The Daily Mail

- Jeetendr Sehdev, a celebrity branding expert, says so
- People can relate to fashion choices of reality TV stars
- Michelle Obama is 11 times more influential than Kate 

From the Zara cornflower blue dress she wore after announcing her engagement to the vibrant pink jeans she wore to play hockey in ahead of London's Olympics, whatever the Duchess of Cambridge wears generally turns to retail gold.

Her wardrobe choices used to send high street sales soaring with shoppers desperate to emulate her impeccable style. But is the 32-year-old losing her touch? Seemingly so, if the latest research is anything to go by.

According to a new survey women are more likely to copy reality TV stars such as Made In Chelsea's Binky Felstead, TOWIE's Lauren Pope and Jersey Shore's Snooki than the once-favoured royal.

He found that movie stars, musicians, models and reality TV stars yield greater influence when it comes to fashion than the former Kate Middleton.

According to his research, women in both the USA and the UK claim to be more influenced by reality TV stars, including the Kardashians, as well as Taylor Swift, Sienna Miller and Michelle Obama.

So influential is the First Lady that she has 11 times more selling power than the Duchess.

Speaking about his results, Sehdev said: 'Her influence is not what it’s being made to be and, in the eyes of the modern woman in both the U.S. and the U.K., she’s not heralded in that way.

'Does she even deserve the title of style icon? The answer is no, because she doesn’t measure on the criteria of the style icon.' 

So why has the new mother fallen out of favour? While 68 per cent of those surveyed believe her style has a certain timelessness, Michelle Obama is seen to be fives time as daring in her dressing. 

Sehdev also believes that Kate's move from high street offerings such as Reiss and L.K. Bennett to designer garments such as Alexander McQueen means her style resonate less with the masses. 

'Style icons today have to be enormously sexy and they have to have a great sense of style and fashion and flair and individuality and they also have to be dressing for themselves and not others,' Sehdev added. 

Jeetendr was interviewed by The Daily Mail on style icons.  View the original article here


Dare to Compare: Michelle Obama vs. The Duchess of Cambridge

Evan Clark | Women's Wear Daily

Fashion might be wrong on Kate Middleton — and underestimating Michelle Obama.

A new study of the attitudes of women in the U.S. and U.K. not only calls into question validity of the “Kate Middleton Effect,” but found the Duchess of Cambridge has the same fashion influence as reality star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Kate Beckinsale and Paris Hilton.

Women are instead gravitating to figures they see as more independent, such as America’s First Lady, who is seen as 11 times more influential in style, according to the study by Jeetendr Sehdev, a celebrity branding expert and University of Southern California marketing professor. Women also cited Taylor Swift and Sienna Miller as style influencers.

Sehdev isn’t buying the theory that Middleton’s fashion choices drive shoppers to stores en masse — although some estimate the Kate Effect at 1 billion pounds, or $1.6 billion, worth of economic activity. Based on his reading of her influence, Sehdev said her impact would be closer to just a fifth of that, or 200 million pounds.

“Her influence is not what it’s being made to be and, in the eyes of the modern woman in both the U.S. and the U.K., she’s not heralded in that way,” Sehdev said.

“Does she even deserve the title of style icon? The answer is no, because she doesn’t measure on the criteria of the style icon,” Sehdev said.

Everyone might have their own definition of style icon, but Sehdev’s take is drawn from his research with 3,500 women in the U.S. and 1,500 in the U.K. and covers five key attributes:

• A definitive sense of style.

• A sense of confidence.

• A certain timelessness that can keep modern.

• A fierce independence.

• A dose of provocativeness.

Middleton has that certain timelessness, according to 68 percent of the women surveyed, but falls short in the other areas.

Obama, for instance, is considered to be five times more daring in her fashion sense than Middleton and 75 percent of the women surveyed admired the First Lady for her sartorial risk-taking.

That’s not to say Middleton is unpopular.

The survey showed women found her to be very likable, but also very safe and less independent than Obama and others. Sixty-seven percent of the women surveyed did not think Middleton chooses her own outfits.

“It seems like she’s kind of being dressed or is dressing for a nation,” Sehdev said, summing up the sentiment of the women surveyed (she is, of course, truly dressing for a nation, since Middleton one day will be Queen Catherine).

Middleton’s look is also moving from High Street to high end, which will make her style resonate less with the masses, he said.

Her 2011 wedding to the future King of England, Prince William, was a supercharged, global event that brought the majesty of any big royal event to the Twitterverse. But even then, on Middleton’s big day, she managed to slip out of the fashion spotlight, which shifted quickly to her sister Pippa’s form-fitting dress.

With her dream wedding, Middleton might look as if she’s in the midst of a fairy tale, but Sehdev said she’s being positioned very specifically within the fashion superstructure. The study grew out of a trip he took to the U.K., where Middleton “was literally on every single magazine cover at the terminal at the airport. It became very clear to me that it was a very deliberate p.r. positioning.”

When it comes to transmitting style influence, it’s not just about the look, but how it’s worn and how it fits into at least the perception of one’s personality.

“Style icons today have to be enormously sexy and they have to have a great sense of style and fashion and flair and individuality and they also have to be dressing for themselves and not others,” Sehdev said.

Obama fits the bill, according to the survey.

“First and foremost, she seems to be dressing for herself,” Sehdev said. “She’s seen taking far more risks. She seems to have a much stronger sense of independence. She’s nobody’s right hand, she’s a person unto herself and that really scores highly when it comes to how that translates to fashion.”

Obama also has more of a multicultural appeal, with the study showing she has 13 times more fashion influence over black, Latino and Asian women than Middleton.

In short, Obama is more of the complete fashion package.

“Michelle is a lot older [than Middleton] and yet these sorts of characteristics are resonating more with today’s woman,” he said. “It’s not about being the perfect princess anymore.”

Jeetendr's style icon study appeared as an exclusive in Women's Wear Daily. View the original article here


Michelle Obama vs. Duchess Kate: Who's the real style icon?

Maria Puente | USA Today

Shocking news for the fashion tribe: First lady Michelle Obama is way more — five times more — daring, confident, independent and provocative in terms of global style influence than Duchess Kate of Cambridge, according to a new study.

Cue the gasps.

Some of us are not that surprised. A royal duchess, princess of the British royal family and future queen is not supposed to be daring, edgy or provocative, she’s supposed to be safe. Duh.

But now it seems there’s actual scientific proof, according to a study of the matter by Jeetendr Sehdev, a marketing professor and expert on celebrity branding at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

His research is attracting notice in the fashion mags, such as WWD, Elle and Glamour, because it suggests that the much-talked about “Kate effect,” said in the U.K. to be worth about $1.6 billion, might be wildly exaggerated.

He surveyed attitudes among 3,500 women in the U.S. and 1,500 in the U.K., and concluded that a true style icon has five key attributes: A definitive sense of style; confidence; timelessness; independence; and a wee bit of provocativeness.

Admired and envied as she is, Kate really only meets the timelessness standard, according to the women he surveyed. Obama is seen as five times more daring in her fashion sense, with 75% of those surveyed saying they admired FLOTUS for her sartorial risk-taking.

“First and foremost, she seems to be dressing for herself,” Sehdev told WWD. “She’s seen taking far more risks. She seems to have a much stronger sense of independence. She’s nobody’s right hand, she’s a person unto herself and that really scores highly when it comes to how that translates to fashion.”

Way to go, Mrs. O.

But compare for yourself, in this picture, possibly the only time the two were snapped together, when the Obamas met the Cambridges at Buckingham Palace 

Jeetendr was interviewed by USA Today on the fashion influence of Kate Middleton and Michelle O'Bama. 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