According to Marketing Evaluations (a.k.a., The Q Scores Company), the likability factor of celebrities who struggled with some perception problems in life, such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, increased greatly after their deaths. The same will likely hold true for Michael Jackson, says Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Marketing Evaluations.
"A lot of the times it's a greater connection of the celebrity to their talents," Schafer tells Marketing Daily. "Once a celebrity like [Michael Jackson] passes away, everyone focuses more on their talents and less on other things."
According to Marketing Evaluations, Presley's positive Q-score was at 25 before his death, and is at 34 in the company's most recent polling. (His negative Q-score was 34 before his death, but has fallen to 17 in the most recent polling.) Similarly, Johnny Cash's positive score is at 33, up from 19 prior to his death.
As for Jackson, "I expect we'll see an immediate and significant boost once we get [polling] done this fall," Schafer says. "It will probably stay at that level for some time."
Even celebrities who are beloved during their lives see their positive scores increase in death, Schafer says. Johnny Carson's score, for instance, is at 32 -- up from 26 before he died. Similar trends hold for Christopher Reeve, Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin and Peter Boyle.
The unanticipated nature of Jackson's death (even with questions about its cause outstanding) will likely cause his Q-scores to jump, especially as time wears on. "A few months down the road, the greater focus will be on memorializing his music," Schafer says, noting that the next round of ratings is scheduled for September. "Elvis overcame that to a tremendous level. I can see the same thing with Michael Jackson."
Of course, the lasting effect of Jackson's Q-score will likely come down to how his legacy is used by his heirs and estate, Schafer says. "The extent to which it becomes a marketable commodity will be up to those who run the estate and what kind of legacy they leave behind," he says.