Betty White Is America’s Favorite and Most Trusted Personality, and the Most Prone to Driving Brand Purchase

Survey Shows Maturity Makes Celebrities More Effective Brand Endorsers

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New York, NY –Based on a recent Ipsos poll of over 2,000 U.S. adults, Betty White stands out as America’s favorite and most trusted personality, and the one whose endorsement of a company would be most likely to drive business.

Denzel Washington and Sandra Bullock Next in Popularity

Betty White gets the highest favorability rating among 100 well-known personalities with 86% of those surveyed expressing a favorable opinion of her (vs. only 3% an unfavorable one). The next most popular celebrities include Denzel Washington (rated favorably by 85%) and Sandra Bullock (84%). Also in the top 10 are: Clint Eastwood (83%), Tom Hanks (81%), Harrison Ford (80%), Kate Middleton – now the Duchess of Cambridge – (79%), Morgan Freeman (also 79%), Will Smith (77%), and Johnny Depp (76%).

Most of the 100 personalities rated in the survey come from the world of entertainment, news and sports. Elected officials were deliberately excluded from the list.



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Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen Most Unpopular Celebrities

At the other end of the spectrum, only two of the 100 celebrities asked about were viewed unfavorably by an outright majority of respondents: Paris Hilton (with 60% expressing an unfavorable opinion of her vs. only 12% a favorable one) and Charlie Sheen (52% vs. 22%). The next most unpopular personalities among those rated are: Britney Spears and Kanye West (each of whom is viewed unfavorably by 45%), Arnold Schwarzenegger (44%), Tiger Woods (42%), Kim Kardashian (38%), Mel Gibson (33%), Donald Trump (31%), and LeBron James (29%).

Several of these 10 personalities – Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears – are more widely disliked by women than they are by men. The others show relatively comparable proportions of male and female detractors.



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Antonio Banderas, Rafael Nadal, Jay Z and Rachael Ray Each Show a Highly Differentiated Demographic Appeal

Among the 100 personalities rated, some show a stronger appeal to one gender or age group.

  • Those who are notably more popular among women than among men include: Antonio Banderas (showing a 27-point gap in favorability between women and men), Kate Winslet, Anderson Cooper, Jake Gyllenhall, Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres and Mariah Carey.
  • Many of those who are particularly more popular among men than among women are athletes, including Rafael Nadal (with a gap of 26 points), Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods. Non-athletes viewed more favorably by males than by females include Jay Z, Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Jay Z is also far more popular among younger Americans than he is among their elders (showing a gap of 39 points between those under 35 compared to those 55 and older). To a lesser extent, this is also the case for Eminem, Sean Diddy Combs, Heidi Klum, Natalie Portman, Britney Spears, and Jessica Simpson, among others.
  • In reverse, Rachael Ray, Bill Gates, Paul McCartney, Kate Middleton, Roger Federer, and Barbara Walters are far more popular among those aged 55 and older than they are among younger Americans.

Betty White, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Morgan Freeman Also the Most Trusted Personalities

Not only is Betty White the most popular personality, but she also ranks as the most trusted one: More than two thirds of those asked (69%) rated her above average when it comes to being someone they trust while 65% rated Tom Hanks above average, 60% for Sandra Bullock, 59% for Morgan Freeman, 58% for Kate Middleton and 57% for both Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift. Another nine personalities received “above average” ratings from a full majority of respondents: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Peyton Manning, Michelle Obama, and Steven Spielberg.



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Older Celebrities Most Able to Transfer Their Own Trust Capital to the Brands They Endorse

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tom Hanks top the list of personalities whose endorsement would be most effective in making Americans place more trust in a company. In a recent Ipsos poll of over 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, majorities of those asked indicated that they would trust a company a little more or a lot more if it were endorsed by Bill Gates (53%), Steve Jobs (50%), and Tom Hanks (50%). Near majorities said so of, in order, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood and Sandra Bullock (49% for all three), Betty White (48%), Morgan Freeman (47%), and Oprah Winfrey (46%). Tied for 10th place are Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg and Robert DeNiro (all 44%).

The average age of these 12 personalities is 62 and none of them is under 40, suggesting that maturity plays a large role in driving confidence.

No One Drives Purchase Interest in a Brand like Betty White

When it comes to driving purchases of a company’s products or services, Betty White comes out on top as well: 44% of those asked said they would be a little or a lot more likely to do business with a company, if it were endorsed by her. The Ipsos poll’s findings are consistent with those of an Ipsos-ASI poll, which ranked an ad featuring Betty White as the most entertaining, most unique, best liked and most talked about Super Bowl ad of 2010.

The most influential personalities when it comes to stimulating purchases of a company’s products or services are largely the same as those who are most trusted and whose endorsement would most increase trust in brands: Betty White is followed, in order, by: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman, Taylor Swift, and Kate Middleton.

Differences by age emerge for the top ten celebrities, with half (52 percent) of those aged 55 and over and 47 percent of those aged 35-54 indicating that they would be more likely to do business with the company were it endorsed by Betty White, compared to only 28 percent of those aged 18-34. Almost six in ten (57 percent) of those 55 and over indicated that they were more likely to do business with a company if it were endorsed by Bill Gates, considerably more than those aged 35-54 (34 percent) or those aged 18-34 (35 percent). A similar pattern emerged when those polled were asked about Morgan Freeman, with over half (53 percent) of those 55 and over saying that they would be more likely to do business with a company if he were to endorse it, compared to almost a third (32 percent) of those aged 35-54 and just 28 percent of those aged 18-34.

Almost half of the women polled (46 percent) indicated that they were more likely to do business with a company if it were endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, compared to only 30 percent of men.



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America’s Least Trusted Celebrities

The list of the 10 least trusted celebrities is nearly identical to that of the 10 most unpopular ones. Two thirds of those asked (67%) rate Paris Hilton below average in terms of being someone they trust – roughly the same proportion who rate Betty White above average. Charlie Sheen is rated below average by 65%, followed by Britney Spears (60%), Tiger Woods (57%), Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kanye West (both 55%), Kim Kardashian (47%), Mel Gibson (45%), Donald Trump (44%) and Kobe Bryant (40%).

Charlie Sheen and Paris Hilton are the celebrities whose endorsement could be the most damaging to the brands they would endorse. Majorities of those asked indicated that they would trust a company less if it were endorsed by Charlie Sheen (54%) or by Paris Hilton (53%). Relatively large proportions also said so of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Britney Spears (42% each), Tiger Woods (40%) and Mel Gibson (34%).

Sheen is also the only celebrity about whom a majority of those asked (51%) said they would be a little or a lot less likely to do business with a company, if it were endorsed by him. The other celebrities whose endorsement could be most dissuasive about purchasing a company’s products or services are, again, Paris Hilton (46%), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Britney Spears and Tiger Woods (38% for all three), and Mel Gibson (31%).

However, certain celebrities with a poor image among the U.S. public at large may actually have a positive impact among younger people on the brands they endorse. For example, while only 2% of those aged 55 and older and 10% of those aged 35-54 say they would be more likely to do business with a company endorsed by Kim Kardashian, 29% of those under the age of 35 say they would. Similar gaps across age groups are seen for Jay Z, Eminem and Sean Diddy Combs, among others.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted July 7-11, 2011. For the survey, a national sample of 2,012 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel were interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of 2,012 and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire adult population aged 18 and older in the United States had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
New York, NY
646-364-7583
nicolas.boyon@ipsos.com

R. Trenton Ross
Managing Director, Ipsos Global Reputation Centre
Ipsos Public Affairs
Washington, DC
Direct: 202-463-2140
Cell: 202-290-7685
trent.ross@ipsos.com

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In the U.S., UK and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, and the Hispanic polling partner of Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBC Universal providing Spanish-language content to U.S. Hispanics and audiences around the world.

Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

To learn more visit: www.ipsos-na.com

About Ipsos

Ipsos is a leading global survey-based market research company, owned and managed by research professionals that helps interpret, simulate, and anticipate the needs and responses of consumers, customers, and citizens around the world. Member companies assess market potential and interpret market trends to develop and test emergent or existing products or services, and build brands. They also test advertising and study audience responses to various media, and measure public opinion around the globe.

They help clients create long-term relationships with their customers, stakeholders or other constituencies. Ipsos member companies offer expertise in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, and public affairs research, as well as forecasting, modeling, and consulting and offers a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services, guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies. The company was founded in 1975 and has been publicly traded since 1999. In 2010, Ipsos generated global revenues of €1.140 billion ($1.6 billion U.S.).

Visit www.ipsos-na.com to learn more about Ipsos offerings and capabilities.


Betty White Is America’s Favorite and Most Trusted Personality, and the Most Prone to Driving Brand Purchase

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NicolasBoyon Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
Work+1.646.364.7583

TrentRoss Trent Ross
Senior Vice President, Reputation and Risk Management
Ipsos Public Affairs
Work+1.202.420.2023