Tis the season to reflect on the past year and be grateful for all the good in a world. One of those highlights was the highly-anticipated memoir by Michelle Obama, Becoming, which sold more than two million units only two weeks after its November 13 release and became the bestselling book of 2018. So how appropriate that she was ranked the most beloved celebrity by women across the United States, according to marketing agency MBLM’s Brand-Intimate Famous Figures (BFF) Study.
The research was based on an online survey taken October 23-26 among about 1,000 adults, ages 18 and older. “This study builds on and is a complement to our annual Brand Intimacy Study, which we’ve been doing for five years,” says Rina Plapler, a partner at MBLM. “It ranks the most intimate brands across 15 industries in three countries.” This is the first year the study has ranked famous figures, Plapler explains. She describes “most beloved” in this context as “the celebrities with whom people have the strongest emotional connection or feel the deepest bonds.”
As for why she thinks Obama took first place among women, Plapler says, “Clearly, she and her message resonate very strongly with women of all ages today. She is able to connect to a broad group of women and is associated with positive emotional feelings.” As First Lady, Obama, who has 25.1M Instagram followers and 11.7M Twitter followers, worked as an advocate for poverty, awareness, and education. She launched the Let’s Move! initiative to encourage healthy habits for children.
While it may seem odd to think of public figures as brands, it speaks to our celebrity-obsessed culture. “Entertainers, athletes, and politicians drive many trends, beliefs, and messages,” explains Plapler. “Social media has enabled this so that we can see their lives up close and personal on a daily basis. They impact the products and services we use, what we pay attention to, and where we focus our attention.” Um, yes, many of us couldn’t help but fangirl over the gold, glittery thigh-high boots Michelle wore on her book tour, or her let’s-get-real comments on the Lean In movement.
Other women who made up the study’s top 10 included Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. The top male figure was Michelle’s husband, President Barack Obama, natch, followed by Tom Hanks and Dwayne Johnson.