As he's done for us in the past, 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. Check out his prognosis after the jump.
Season 14 of ABC's Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday night, and since the cast was announced a few weeks ago, we've seen almost zero buzz. The chatter about the cast is the lowest in the history of the show. With no polarizing figures, this is the first time DWTS has played it safe (or it means they couldn't get a wild card to commit). Recent seasons haven't delivered the same marketing bump as the earlier ones, but the show has still resurrected many marketing/broadcasting careers. Look no further than co-host Brooke Burke. Even Ralph Macchio was picked up for a pilot just a few days ago. (Trust me, that's from DWTS, not The Karate Kid.)
Here's a look at who stands to gain the most, and least, in terms of marketing potential this season.
• Jaleel White (above left), or shall we say, Urkel. His smile and charm will make him a fan favorite from day one. This will be the ticket to get him back into conversations with brands and their PR firms, making him a very likely candidate to get hired for a springtime brand campaign. If he lasts long, it could resurrect his career like it did for Mario Lopez and Joey Fatone. Jaleel could work well for a consumer electronics brand.
• Maria Menounos will be one of the odds-on favorites to win, and I believe score in the marketing space. She is an author, founder of AfterBuzzTV.com and co-host on Extra. She appeals to the female 25-54 audience and is a candidate for clothing, cosmetics and fashion-forward items. Her one marketing challenge is working through any time/advertising conflicts with her TV bosses at Extra.
• Donald Driver (above right) is a Super Bowl champion from the Green Bay Packers and the team's all-time leading wide receiver in yards and receptions. He is no stranger to marketing, having done campaigns for McDonald's, AirTran Airways, Kwik Trip, Goodwill, Jani-King and Time Warner Cable. Other NFL players such as Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Hines Ward scored in the marketing world post-DWTS, and I expect Driver will, too.
• William Levy is a wild-card early winner for me. He has a strong following from appearing on the Sexiest Men of the Year cover for People en Español and appearing in a J. Lo music video in the past year. His TV career has been centered on Univision (which rates higher than NBC on some nights now). I expect he'll be an excellent dancer and score very well with the female audience. Forecasting a fragrance line by 2014.
—Middle of the Road
• Roshon Fegan from Disney's Shake it Up! is this season's pick for cross-promotion on the ABC show. He wins because his awareness level will skyrocket. Unfortunately, his fan base is sleeping when the show is on in half the country. DWTS will be good for him long term, but is unlikely to spark immediate marketing success.
• Jack Wagner is a multitalented actor, singer and celebrity golfer. DWTS is a good venue for him, as it may help him land some roles back on TV and for additional celebrity pro-am invitations. I am sure the show will spend time on him meeting his long-lost daughter just a few months ago.
• Gavin DeGraw will also be touring during the season. This will hurt his time on the dance floor but help sell tickets to his concerts. DWTS will help spread his music to a broader audience.
• Katherine Jenkins has the looks and the voice, but unfortunately, DWTS is a popularity contest, too, and she is not well known in these circles. If she were to stick around for a month or more, it would help her music and endorsement future. Jewelry and evening wear are two obvious categories.
—Unlikely to Capitalize
• Martina Navratilova is the greatest tennis player in history, and it takes guts for her to appear on the show. She is incredibly athletic, which may help her waltz, but it won't bring marketing dollars to her.
• Gladys Knight also gets a lot of credit for appearing. Hopefully when she gets knocked off, they will let her sing and sell some albums.
• Sherri Shepherd has the right personality for the show—outgoing and always smiling—but this won't advance her marketing career. Her audience on (ABC's) The View can help her stick around a bit, if they care to vote.
—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.