Henry Schafer, EVP, Marketing Evaluations, Inc./The Q Scores Company, is a media research veteran from the consumer research/ advertising agency sphere. His current company, Marketing Evaluations, is best known as the inventor of Q scores, which indicate consumer favorability and marketing potential for celebrities as well as for programs, brands and licensed properties.
According to Henry, the media landscape has seen a sea change over the years, with greater complexity and more challenges to research and methodologies. In my interview with him, Henry discusses specific challenges to research, the future of media, the measurement (and value) of celebrity favorability and negativity, and the advancement of a branch of celebrity measurement that one might not have envisioned: the current media value of stars who are deceased.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. View the longer version here.
CW: Q scores can be both positive and negative scores. What exactly are negative Q scores, and how do they play out in making some characters more compelling?
HS: What we measure in our negative Q score ratings scale is degree of dislike… of a personality, a show, a brand -- as opposed to the “favorite” score, which is used to ascertain the level of positive Q scores.
You have celebrities that have both a high positive and high negative score. This means that they stir emotions, they create an “approach /avoidance” conflict within consumers. But they are getting noticed.
In some scenarios, that is a good thing -- where you want a celebrity or show creating those kinds of emotions in consumers and viewers. On the other hand, you could have a celebrity with a very low positive Q score and a very high negative Q score. That could be perceived and analyzed as a “true negative” -- such as what happened with LeBron James when he made his decision to leave Cleveland and go to Miami. That got so much negative publicity, and he didn’t handle it correctly. In that case, the growth in negative Q was not beneficial. It decreased his marketability.
On the other hand you have celebrities who historically have low positive and high negative Q scores like Martha Stewart, Howard Stern, Roseanne Barr and Madonna, In cases like that, a high negative score is a good thing because it is a “like to criticize” and a compelling, attention-getting attribute.
CW: What is the value of measuring the Q score of deceased celebrities?
HS: Back in the late 1990s, many of our West Coast clients who were in the licensing and talent agent business started to ask us questions about the appeal of celebrities who were no longer living, because they were interested in using their image for advertising campaigns etc.
So it was a natural fit for us to extend our current and existing personality measurements into that area. That is how it got started. There were companies who were managing the estates of these deceased celebrities and were looking for ways to market and improve the estate’s revenue flow for the families involved.
We then created the service, which was originally called “The Performers of the Past Q” -- but we then decided to shorten the name, and it is now called “Dead Q.” This area has expanded for us, not only including the original client categories of agents and estate managers, but also attorneys, a number of cable networks -- History Channel, AMC, Turner Classic Movies – which all have an interest, obviously, in [what] the current appeal is for deceased personalities who star in their on-air movie packages.