Who Makes The List Of Trustworthiness?
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
I'm Scott Simon. If you've been following Brian Williams's fall from the anchor chair at the "NBC Nightly News," you may have heard that the network worried if viewers would trust him now. Apparently, trust is a quality that marketing firms measure. A celebrity index compiled by a company called The Marketing Arm ranked Brian Williams as the 23rd most-trusted person in America before he was suspended for six months by NBC. Now he's down at 845. Matt Delzell is the marketing director of The Marketing Arm. He joins us from his office in Dallas.
Thanks so much for being with us.
MATT DELZELL: Thank you.
SIMON: Help us put this in perspective. Who was Brian Williams clustered with before he slipped down the scale?
DELZELL: Brian was up, you know, in the level of folks like Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, major actors who the general public feels are some of the most trustworthy public figures in this country.
SIMON: And have you seen it drop like this before?
DELZELL: We have, in other attributes. We did with Tiger Woods, that was a monumental drop. But his trustworthiness was not at the level that Brian's was at and quite honestly athletes generally aren't, you know, because they are not the public barometer of integrity or trustworthiness to begin with.
SIMON: Now, Tom Hanks is just about at the very top, as I understand.
DELZELL: That's correct. He's number one in our database overall right now.
SIMON: We've had the pleasure of interviewing him. He's a great guy and a great guest, a great interview. He is an actor and I can't avoid reflecting on the fact that people trust a man who mostly they hear reciting words somebody wrote for them.
DELZELL: (Laughter). I said it in the office this morning, and I 100 percent agree with you. It's saddening to know that the top 10 in trustworthiness includes mostly actors. And we're talking about, you know, again, people who play fictitious characters that other people write for them. Not many people know what Tom Hanks is like in his personal life. We don't get the opportunity to see that. But the fact that the majority of the population is basing, you know, their trustworthy decision on somebody who plays fictitious characters and somebody they see on a movie screen, is saddening to me.
SIMON: Now that Tiger Woods has back problems and is hitting a lot of bogeys, is his trust ranking nevertheless up from what it was?
DELZELL: No. He has not recovered in terms of trust. We have seen recovery from him in a lot of the other attributes. He's still a very - considered a very trendsetting celebrity. He's still influential. Nike Golf, you know, still sells a ton of clothing because of Tiger Woods. But his trust has not been regained.
SIMON: And based on your experience, Mr. Delzell, is this a ranking Brian Williams can raise, if he works at it?
DELZELL: If it's going to happen, it's going to be a long way away. But he can recover. Other celebrities have recovered. It's going to be harder for him because of the position that he was in, exaggerating on air in the seat that he sat in, where, you know, trust is the name of the game. You're delivering news, you're delivering facts - people expect that. So it's going to be different. We're going to see something different rather than what we've seen from a Tiger Woods or a Lance Armstrong or somebody of that ilk. But he can, he can recover. I just don't see him getting back to the level that he was at.
SIMON: Matt Delzell is marketing director of The Marketing Arm.
Thanks very much for being with us.
DELZELL: Thank you, Scott.
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