As he did last season, Octagon First Call's David Schwab, who helps brands assess the value of celebrities for ad campaigns, is giving us his predictions for the marketing potential of the latest Dancing With the Stars cast. Peer into his crystal ball after the jump.
On Monday night, ABC unveiled its latest cast of talent for the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, premiering Sept. 19. Twice a year, the show is one giant audition process for celebrity promotions. Win or lose, the waltzing personalities have gone on to reap the benefits of a massive public audience, which they can later turn into major marketing potential.
DWTS has created and resurrected the marketing and (for some) hosting careers of Brooke Burke, Jennie Garth, Apolo Ohno, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Julianne Hough, Chelsea Kane, and Tom Bergeron, to name just a few. The show took a risk last year by using a lesser known list of talent. In the end, no one struck gold. And looking at the roster announced Monday, DWTS may have missed out again. The show has moved away from its tried-and-true formula of using a well-liked athlete, a TV mom, a former kid star and a famous star of yesteryear. In its place, it's featuring more controversial characters instead.
Here's a breakdown of their marketing potential of this year's dancers:
• J.R. Martinez. After suffering severe burns over 40 percent of his body while serving the U.S. Army in Iraq, Martinez has since become a nationally touring public speaker, and now, an actor on All My Children. With a clear demographic that supports his military sacrifices and general optimism, there is a predictable promotional cross-over potential, especially with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on the horizon. He has the chance to be a corporate motivational speaker forever. He can go from obscurity to a book deal or movie if played out correctly.
• Hope Solo. The American women's soccer goalkeeper is riding the heels of her World Cup near-success right into the gates of the 2012 London Olympics. As an established, world-class female athlete, Solo has the right resume (Nike athlete, recently signed with Gatorade and Bank of America) and look—a bonus that brought some extra cash to personalities like bombshell tennis player Anna Kournikova and onetime Playboy model/swimmer Amanda Beard. ABC's sister network ESPN will love the promotion as she is featured on its magazine's October "Body" issue.
• Carson Kressley. The fashion guru first came to notoriety as the style expert for Bravo's acclaimed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and later, Lifetime's How to Look Good Naked. Most recently, he appears on OWN's Carson Nation, where he travels to small towns throughout the U.S., transforming one person at a time. Kressley is no stranger to brand partnerships—he teamed up with Caress in 2010. The question will be: Can he resurrect his brand appeal to the female 18-39 audience?
• Rob Kardashian. Rob, the 24-year-old younger brother of the famous sister trio, is a regular cast member on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. In his spare time, he models and manages an all-female band called BG5. This season will test the power of his family's influence. Collectively, they have more than 22 million Twitter followers (he has 2 million alone, almost 500,000 more than the rest of this season's contestants combined). If they all vote, he will do well.
• Kristin Cavallari. Everyone knows the reality starlet as the bad girl from Laguna Beach and the later seasons of The Hills. With Audrina Patridge as a former contestant, it seems DWTS might have found a demographic that supports this type of celebrity. Cavallari has a small army of nearly 600,000 Twitter followers—a promising sign that the quintessential California troublemaker can sling her social-media lasso toward her fans for promotional purposes. She could become the "publicity stunt" darling for brands from this crop of talent.
• Ricki Lake. Despite being off the map for nearly a decade, Ricki Lake's name hasn't been forgotten. Once the star of the original Hairspray, Lake slimmed down and hosted a successful talk show for almost 11 years, eventually bowing out of the gig to focus on her family. Although she has popped up in Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva, as well as a Funny or Die video starring blogger/activist Dan Savage, DWTS could be just the tool Lake needs to re-emerge into the public domain, especially with adult women 25-54.
• Ron Artest/Metta World Peace. Already a spokesman for Chinese athletic brand Peak Sport Products and producer of his own in-development reality show They Call Me Crazy, Artest has potential. But will brands buy into any dancing success he has? He doesn't have the popularity or appeal of Emmitt Smith, Rick Fox or Jerry Rice.
• Elisabetta Canalis. The Italian actress is already a recognized personality in her home country, but became known to Americans as the (now former) girlfriend of George Clooney. DWTS could create a modeling career for her.
• David Arquette. An unlikely jack of all trades in the entertainment business, Arquette has four movies in production, produces his estranged wife's show Cougar Town, has a clothing line (Propr Collection) with singer Ben Harper, serves on the board for hunger-relief organization Feeding America, and strangest of all, wrestled for a while in the WWE. David Arquette, everybody—the ticking time bomb of marketing potential that DWTS absolutely can unleash . . . or not.
• Chaz Bono. Once the daughter of Cher and Sonny, Chaz Bono has now become the man of the hour in the LGBT community. Bono's gender reassignment transformation is the topic of his 2011 book Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, which inspired a significant media tour and premiere of a documentary, Becoming Chaz, on OWN. He has an opportunity to champion the LGBT community on a nationally televised stage.
• Chynna Phillips. The daughter of Mamas & The Papas singers John and Michelle Phillips, singer/actress Chynna hasn't quite gained the recognition of her peers. Most recently, she received media attention when she returned from treatment for anxiety, which could lend itself to endorsements in the medical world, as well as an appearance with her sisters during the summer hit Bridesmaids.
• Nancy Grace. Outspoken pundit Nancy Grace will take the stage this fall in an area much different that her legal shout-fest on HLN. The blonde, Atlanta-based commentator will have to make a cross-country commute in order to perform, practicing in Georgia with her dance partner, and flying to Los Angeles to tape. She is similar to Kate Gosselin—she will drive ratings to her TV show, but brands will ultimately stay away from her.
—David Schwab is the managing director of Octagon First Call, a business that helps brands assess the value of celebrities for their upcoming marketing campaigns. Follow him at www.celebrityacquisition.com and @david_schwab.