Q Scores Take the 'Quien?' Out of Latino Celebrity Spokespeople

If It Looks Like a Hispanic Celebrity and It Talks Like a Hispanic Celebrity, Is It Really a Hispanic Celebrity?

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Rochelle Newman-Carrasco Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Several projects have popped up lately that got me to thinking about Q scores. For the past 40-plus years, Q scores have been an industry standard when it comes to measuring the awareness, appeal and emotional connections of performers, athletes/sports, characters, and network and cable programs.

Q Scores are calculated for the population as a whole, as well as for demographic segments with variables that include information such as age, sex, income, and gender and education level.

In 1985, using the existing celebrity list and sampling methodology, the study began to measure the responses of U.S. Hispanics. Marketing Evaluations, the creators of Q Scores, acknowledged that the sample of U.S. Hispanics was really limited to the highly acculturated, English-dominant segment of the population. Additionally, it pointed out, Latino celebrities included as part of the research tool were few and far between and were almost exclusively those Latinos who had successful careers in Hollywood and on English-language networks. In spite of mega-million-dollar global careers, very few internationally recognized Latino celebrities -- Latinos who were not part of the U.S. "mainstream" talent pool -- were being studied. Until now.

The folks at Marketing Evaluations are in the process of launching their first Q study that focuses on the U.S. Hispanic consumer's perception of celebrities in terms of the two important scores -- awareness and likeability. What's new about this version of the study is that it is being fielded in both English and Spanish, and it will be fully representative of all segments of the U.S. Hispanic population, including Spanish-dominant, English-dominant and a variety of bilingual segments in between. It will allow clients to look at country-of-origin variables, economic variables, language strata and other factors in order to better understand "who is popular with whom?"

I commend the decision to roll out this valuable tool -- because I'm still getting questions from well-intended marketers such as "Did Hispanics like Paul Newman?" (May he rest in peace. And yes, everyone liked Paul Newman.) This week, as part of a Hispanic Heritage Month conversation, I was also asked about the Hispanics on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and whether they represented Hispanic celebrities about whom all Hispanics would feel proud. That list includes a very diverse group including George Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Antonio Banderas, Andy Garcia and Rita Moreno (the only Latina and youngest artist to win an Emmy, Tony, Oscar and Grammy).

There is also an important need for quantifiable information about Latino celebrities because of the information gap that exists when it comes to those film, music and sports artists with a more "global" profile. For example, Lucero recently joined the Olay celebrity lin up for P&G. Aracely Arambula has a key role in the P&G-sponsored multimedia platform Todo Bebe. These two talented women are household names with certain segments of the U.S. Hispanic population, partially known by other segments and are apt to elicit a "Who?" in the more U.S. born, assimilated homes. Additionally, non-Latinos may also be clueless about how to classify these women other than to say they are both Latinas and both beautiful. That's not a whole lot of information when you're deciding to spend millions on fees and tie up your brand identity with someone's perceived celebrity.

Selecting celebrities to represent brands comes with challenges. Who appeals to whom and why? In the Hispanic community, the challenges are demographic, psychographic, geographic and every other graphic one can think of. There are those Latino performers and other celebs that are strong on a regional basis, connecting mostly with those who share their country of origin. There are others with a very U.S. Latino connection that has little impact on a more foreign-born audience.

Still others manage to be held in high regard by consumers young and old, foreign born and U.S. born, men and women. It's a tough thing to pull off, but this profile of performer does exist. Gone are the days when anyone can justify hiring (or not hiring) a Hispanic talent because they are automatically relevant to all Hispanics (or automatically not relevant to non-Hispanics). I mean, hypothetically speaking, would you pick a woman for a political post and expect other women to vote for her based on gender identity alone? Really now. But I digress. (Q scoring is wise enough to stay out of the political arena. I asked.)

In 1985, when Hispanic consumers were first asked for their input, Alan Alda held the highest Q-score rating among the total U.S. population; Clint Eastwood was tops among the Hispanic panel being used at that time.

Today, the existing Q-score data reveals high marks, in both "familiarity" and Positive Q score, for Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Tom Hanks and Adam Sandler. As mentioned, until the new Hispanic study is fielded, this is a peek into the English dominant assimilated Latino consumers POV and, therefore, not representative of the entire market. If you were to only look at the Latino reaction to Latino celebs featured in the existing study, familiarity is highest for George Lopez, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz. The most positive Q score in this study, although they are coupled with below-average awareness, goes to Selena Gomez. Don't know who she is? Ask your kids.
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