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Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood are the most effective brand endorsers

First published on http://www.examiner.com/

With country music becoming as popular as ever, brands are seeking out the leading men and woman to present their products in edgier and bolder ways. When Celebrity DBI broke down the genre’s artists based on consumer awareness, likability and trustworthiness, Blake Shelton came out on top, as the most effective, most promising brand endorser. Carrie Underwood snuck right in at No. 2 on the tally.

Reba McEntire and Faith Hill also placed remarkably high on the chart, landing at No. 5 and 6, respectively.

“Big-name country stars are of the same status as pop music stars right now. Their awareness levels, over the past five years, have stayed steady or improved, and that speaks to the growing fan base and the increase in the people who know and like them,” explained Kathy Gardner, global head of the DBI at Repucom, in the official research, released this week. “They’re relatable, and that’s key. [Country stars] scored well in the most important factors that contribute to consumers making a purchase: trustworthiness, likability and ‘breakthrough,’ meaning that when you see them on TV, you pay attention to what they’re saying.”

On Underwood’s squeaky-clean image, Gardner noted, “[She] has been around for a while and we haven’t seen any Justin Bieber-style nosedives from her. Americans, in general, like the clean-cut person who’s not getting into trouble.”

Damon Whiteside, the CMA’s senior vice president of marketing and partnerships, said, “Brands are now more proactive about reaching out to country artists, whereas before, we had to do more of an educational process with them. Years ago, artists might have taken opportunities with brands just for the exposure. Now they can be a little bit more choosy about what brands fit their image.”

The findings further breakdown the relationship between country music buyers and the general U.S. consumer base. “If you look at the distribution of country music fans, it’s almost evenly distributed across the country. People used to have the impression that it was Southern-based, but now you have just as big a distribution in the Northeast and the West as you do in the South,” asserted Tom Worcester, head of music brand partnerships at Los Angeles-based talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

“Country’s the No. 1 format in America nationwide and it just had its best year ever, hitting an all-time national high for listening share,” a Nielsen spokesman told the American Marketing Association. “Country music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It’s much more mainstream.”

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