Celebrity Risk

Celebrity Risk Factor: Weighing the Impact of Celebrity Scandals on Consumer Perception

With every move they make being promoted and publicized (voluntarily or otherwise), most celebrity figures are fully exposed to the general public. And while this level of exposure can help celebrities develop positive relationships with consumers, it can also intensify the risk of a scandal or fallout. This is particularly true in the era of social media, when even the smallest of scandals or hiccups can be escalated immediately and have substantial consequences.

For brand marketers, this means that there is more risk than ever in attaching your brand to a celebrity. But that isn’t to say you should avoid working with celebrities altogether and lose the exorbitant benefits.

Instead, it is a matter of educating yourself on the various risks celebrities can pose to your brand — and how different types of scandals can impact celebrities, consumer perception of said celebrity, and thus your brand.

To help showcase the various risks celebrities can pose to brands — and better understand the weight different scandals may hold in the minds of consumers — Spotted ran a consumer survey on five celebrity scandals that occurred between April and June 2018. This survey was run as part of The Spotted Quarterly Report on Q2 2018, which you can download in full here.

The celebrity scandals of Q2 2018: an overview

Below are the five celebrity scandals we selected for analysis:

  1. Kanye West: The hip-hop superstar made a series of controversial comments in support of Donald Trump on Twitter, and while on TMZ, he said that slavery “seems like a choice.” Over 25,000 signed a petition for Adidas to drop Kanye.
  2. Morgan Freeman: It was reported by 8 individual women that Morgan Freeman made inappropriate sexual comments about their bodies and clothing, and touched them without permission. Women said they were afraid to report the harassment because of Freeman’s star status and instead changed how they dressed in order to avoid harassment from him.
  3. Jamie Foxx: Jamie Foxx was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2002. The woman claims Foxx hit her in the face with his genitals when she refused to perform oral sex on him. Foxx vehemently denies all the claims and says the alleged incident never occurred. Foxx is taking legal action against the woman making the claims, saying she filed a false report.
  4. Samantha Bee: Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c—t” on her show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Bee has since apologized, saying it was inexcusable — a sentiment the network TBS echoed.
  5. G-Eazy: G-Eazy was convicted on resisting arrest, drug possession and assault charges in Sweden. He was involved in a nightclub brawl and assaulted a security guard. After being arrested for the fight, police found 1.5 grams of cocaine in his possession. His behavior was described as “insane, crazy, and rabid.”

The celebrity scandals of Q2 2018: Spotted findings & analysis

Spotted surveyed 200+ consumers over the age of 18 years old in the United States to understand how they perceived the celebrities involved in the above scandals, including a ranking of the celebrities according to attributes like Name Recognition, Face Recognition, Trustworthiness, Attractiveness, Likability, Coolness, and Relatability.

celebrity risk

Here are Spotted’s high-level findings and analysis:

  • The most recognizable of the scandals was Kanye West’s and Morgan Freeman’s.
  • Kanye West was the only celebrity who was overall ranked negatively, scoring below 3 across all of the attributes we measured against. This shows that Kanye West’s popularity and perception is in trouble among consumers. Overall, he was not liked by those both aware and not aware of his controversial comments. His lengthy history of negative press seems to finally be coming around and truly hurting his image.
  • Based on the scandals that we surveyed, there is a strong trend of age being a negative predictor on redeemability following a scandal. Meaning, the older a celebrity is, the less likely consumers are to find them redeemable.
  • Morgan Freeman and Samantha Bee were the most impacted by their particular scandals. They showed the highest drop in ranking across Trustworthiness, Attractiveness, Likability, and Relatability amongst consumers who were aware of the scandals.
  • Women were significantly less likely to view Kanye West and Morgan Freeman as redeemable.
  • Celebrities can gain greater recognition from a scandal. G-Eazy had an approximate 30% increase in face recognition due to awareness of his scandal. His led to the largest jump in face recognition, compared to the other celebrities we surveyed on.

Want access to more exclusive insights? Download The Spotted Quarterly Report on Q2 2018

With celebrity risk and brand vigilance top of mind, the idea of celebrity perception — and the impact it can have on a brand — is featured prominently in The Spotted Quarterly Report on Q2 2018.

To gain deeper insights into the trends, issues, and opportunities shaping celebrity endorsement, download your copy of The Spotted Quarterly Report on Q2 2018 now!