Does Celebrity Work?

In short, yes……….. BUT…..

Don’t become consumed by it. We all look at charities that have “great” Celebrity support, or a fantasticlist of Patrons, and think WOW arent they so lucky. Are they?

I was speaking to someone recently who was trying to put together a marketing strategy for a charity and they were talking to me about the need to Celebrity support. I had to stop them in their stride and say….Look yes it is a good thing to have, but dont over focus on it. It should not be a core concern. Put it in there, more in terms of…”it would be nice if”…but certainly don’t spend 6 months of the year working on it. Its not going to pay off.

Fundraising Breakthroughs reports on a poll by Harris Interactive that showed two interesting results:

Just over half (51 percent) of Americans surveyed say that, “celebrities make little or no positive difference to the issue they are promoting,”

“One thing Americans say they have not done is support a cause or gotten more information on one because of something they heard an actor, singer or other celebrity say or do. Just 15 percent have done so compared to 85 percent who have not.”

I think too often we get pressured into needing a Celebrity supporter. I worked for an organisation once where one of the board members wanted us to get a list of celebrities on board. I put together a patron charter, so we could present what we would like them to do (it made sense to me that when we approached them we knew what we were approaching them for).

Oh No, I was told, we just want to put their name on the headed paper. Needless to say, it flew right down my priority list.

Our corporate sponsors often ask, Who is your Patron. They of course want to be associated with celebrity X by being associated with you. My advice…………..Be Honest, “well so and so does one thing a year for us and we really arent in a position to ask them to open 15 of your stores this year”.

If they just want you because you have a celebrity, its not going to be the greatest of partnerships anyway.

So when does Celebrity work?

It works when the Celebrity wants it to work. Let’s face it A list Hollywood actors aren’t sitting at home waiting for you to call! They are just like donors. They are donors. They will support the cause that they want to support. It really is that simple. I have also found that they will take part, for the most part, in the events that they want to take part in.

In those instances you are going to get great PR. The press love Celebrity, now more so than ever. So at events, gala balls, launches, you will get the coverage, once the celeb is big enough.

I dont think you should use your celebrity for calls to action, unless they too are taking action. I cringe when I hear radio ads with “this is so and so and I am calling on you to do whatever”(I normally have switched off at that stage). I dont for one second believe that this person is planning on walking 700miles or donating 10 euro a week. They are just doing an ad. Like everything we do, it needs to be real for it to work.

So it works when the celebrity is really taking part. I think the UN have used celebrity well, they really get them to go and visit the affected areas, so they can talk passionately about the cause. Red Nose Day does it well too, as does the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Final thoughts:

  • Dont over focus on celebrity support
  • They will tend to let you know that they want to support you
  • Beware of  Rehab and Scandals
  • At the same time no harm in talking to them if you get the chance
  • They are a lot of work, so measure the return
  • Treat them like donors, they are
  • It is short term gain (but the gain can be good)
  • It works when they are engaged, passionate and particiapating

2 thoughts on “Does Celebrity Work?

  1. Pingback: When Celebrity doesnt work « Conor’s Fundraising Blog

  2. This is very up-to-date information. I think I’ll share it on Digg.

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