Monday, January 25, 2010

The 10 Most Trusted Celebrities

Why bother at all with stars? “In a very crowded media environment its hard for companies to stand out," says Gerry Philpott, president of Los Angeles-based E-Poll Market Research, who gauges the marketability of hundreds of public figures for clients. "They need those names to cut through the clutter.”

So which celebrities do people trust most? We turned to E-Poll, which ranked the A-list names Americans rated the highest in for trustworthiness, awareness and appeal.

10. Denzel Washington

The Academy Award-winning actor has never shied away from Tinseltown's more meaty roles, portraying historical heavyweights like Malcolm X and Hurricane Carter. Among the results: He commands his viewers' attention--and respect--whether he's playing a corrupt cop in Training Day or a depressed detective in The Bone Collector.

9. Bill Cosby

The Cosby Show star has earned himself an "America's Dad" nickname and an instantly endearing image--and advertisers have taken notice. In fact, over the course of his decades-long career as an actor and comedian, he's served as a spokesman for Jello, Kodak, Coca-Cola and Ford, among others.

8. Will Smith

The former Fresh Prince star has reigned over the box office with commercial blockbusters like Independence Day, Men In Black and I Am Legend. With talent, charm and a stable family life on his resume, Smith is the kind of celebrity marketers can't help but drool over.

7. Ron Howard

The name--or better yet the freckled face of--Ron Howard conjures images of an adorable redhead named Opie Taylor (on The Andy Griffith Show) or an endearing teen by the name of Richie Cunningham (on Happy Days). But Howard has since proved that he has talent on the other side of the camera as well, directing and producing Oscar-caliber films like A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 and Cinderella Man. Up next he'll update his 1980s flick Parenthood starring Peter Krause and Lauren Graham on NBC.

6. Sally Field

In recent years the Norma Rae star has garnered attention--and fans--as the Emmy-winning matriarch of the Walker family on ABC's long-running drama Brothers & Sisters. Off set she's lent her star power to a postmenopausal osteoporosis medication called Boniva.

5. Morgan Freeman

The Academy Award-winning actor and director is often described as the man who made films like Million Dollar Baby, Driving Miss Daisy and The Shawshank Redemption the successes that they were. Still others instantly associate him with reserved image and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has put the latter to good use--he replaced Walter Cronkite as the voice that introduces the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

4. Mike Rowe

As host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs as well as the narrator for other series like Deadliest Catch and Ghost Lab, Rowe has endeared himself to an ever-expanding fan base. To date, companies like Ford and W.W. Grainger have already attempted to connect with those adoring fans--and their wallets.

3. Michael J. Fox

As Alex P. Keaton on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, actor Michael J. Fox earned viewers' affection. As a leading activist in the fight for Parkinson's disease funding (a disease he was diagnosed with more than a decade ago), he has earned their respect. For these and other reasons (like talent and fame), Fox is among the marketing world's safest bets.

2. Tom Hanks

Audiences laughed with Hanks as a wisecracking cross-dresser on the early 1980s cult comedy series Bosom Buddies. They cried with him as a homosexual AIDS victim in the 1993 tearjerker Philadelphia. And they rallied with him as a slow-witted Southerner in the 1994 runaway hit Forrest Gump. Throughout these and other roles the Academy Award-winning actor and director managed to earn their esteem, respect and confidence.

1. James Earl Jones

Jones boasts one of the most instantly recognizable voices in entertainment history --and a commanding presence to match. Still best known as the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, he's also lent his voice to the CNN tagline and NBC's Olympic coverage and his acting skills to everything from Conan the Barbarian to Field of Dreams.