If you are an active user on Instagram, you might remember hashtags such as #loveManchester, #prayforManchester, #roomformanchester.
In 2017, there was a terrorist attack in Manchester during a concert by a famous celebrity, Ariana Grande. The blast left 19 people dead and 59 injured. After the horrific event, accompanied by mass attention in the media, Ariana Grande raised £19,672,400 to support victims. Indian cricketer, Yuvraj Singh, has used his fame and wealth to provide health care to cancer patients, raise awareness and tackle stigma about the disease. Actress Priyanka Chopra was made UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador in 2016 and has been associated with the organization for almost a decade and a half. Charity support by famous celebrities fascinates people. The combination of extraordinary fame and humble behaviour tends to touch the hearts of fans, followers, and of course, the victims. And so, it is easy to recognize the enormous advantages that celebrities bring when they sponsor and advertise particular charity groups. According to a study of “The Relationship of Celebrity Affiliation to Nonprofit Contributions,” it was found that among the 500 charities studied, ones that used celebrity endorsement strategy were associated with the largest public donations. The parasocial nature of fan-artist bonds is what makes celebrities very influential, researchers say.
However, some people worry that these celebrities use charity work with ‘ill-intentions.’ Some argue that celebrities benefit from improving their public image. Let’s say, for example, that a famous and charming actor also works regularly for a charity. He would then almost certainly be the type of person that anyone would like. People might question whether this phenomenon is ‘right.’ Is it acceptable for charity work to be used as a tool for self-promotion? And could the celebrities’ actions distort the original intentions of the charity work?
Unfortunate situations can arise when celebrities post online content against the charity’s goals that they participate in. For example, Naomi Campbell showed off her fur Christmas gift after participating in PETA’s “rather go naked than wear fur” campaign. Cases such as this ruin the credibility of the charity group and the celebrity. On the other hand, as mentioned above, it is hard to ignore the beneficial influence that celebrities bring to charity organizations. Frequent use of celebrity image to support organizations suggests that charities believe celebrity endorsement to be an effective way to gain attention from the public.
It is important for charities wanting to further their cause through celebrity endorsement to be cautious when selecting their advocate and to ensure the candidate is sincere and has views aligned with the aims of their work. Any celebrity-led publicity needs to be backed up by the organization’s expertise in its field of work. The few risks of celebrity endorsement are easily outweighed by the publicity provided by popular public figures and although some may be involved for self-promoting reasons, it seems likely that most are trying to help others and give something back to society.
Credits – Soomin Yoo, Francesca Meynell