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Lakshmi Narayan

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Celebrity Activism: Who ultimately benefits, the celebrity or the cause?

I am doing a dissertation on this topic and would like people to give an opinion on what they think of the question. I study PR so anything that relates back to media, how the publics attitude is swayed and what happens if the celebrity and the cause don't align, and does the cause push the celeb profile or the other way around. Case studies that I've looked at are- Bob Geldof-Live Aid, Joanna Lumley-Gurkhas , Sean Penn-Haiti and Angelina Jolie- any campaign she has been affiliated with.


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  • Apr 20 2013: Very good question. Mutual benefits of course for major causes such as Action Aid. However are there many true philanthropist amongst celebrities who will do this without something to gain? I doubt it. They get short and long term benefits from world wide publicity, status, credibility and popularity which serves as their marketing tool They become household names some of them overnight as global brands . That's a lot of rewards for very little in some cases. Some of them have little sympathy with ethical , moral issue indeed EHR without naming names. Of course there are exceptions to the rule always.
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      Apr 21 2013: Thanks for the addition to the conversation. The only example of a true 'celanthropist' (celebrity/philanthropist) is Bill Gates. He doesn't need to gain notoriety. I think you've hit the nail on the head with celebrities needing to be a global brand to be successful and being a charitable person is just one facet that they need to deliver on to gain the status and credibility. I wonder how society can figure out the genuine from the not so?!
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        Apr 21 2013: "I wonder how society can figure out the genuine from the not so?!" Another great question.

        I think part of the answer to this question involves how much "time and effort" (ex: time spent promoting/raising awareness, fundraising/money raised, amount of donations given, etc) celebrities put towards the causes they are supporting, and the "consistency" of the celebrity (ex: Naomi Campbell was not very consistent, while Bill Gates on the other hand appears to be more consistent). There is definitely more to the answer than just these two aspects, but I believe they play an important role in how society determines which celebrities are being genuine about their support for causes and which are not.

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