The Public’s Interest in Celebrities is Perhaps Overestimated

The stars of humanitarianism were not idle last week: Forest Whitaker, accompanied by the United Nations
In a survey by Mr. Brockington of 2,000 UK citizens citing a list of 12 charities, including the British Red Cross, Save the Children UK, and Oxfam UK, 95 percent of those surveyed knew of at least five. But two-thirds of respondents could not name any activist for either of these non-governmental organizations (music producer Simon Cowell and singers Victoria Beckham and Elton John respectively for the three NGOs cited here).

Focus groups and interviews with a hundred-star “ambassadors” and communications officers from several NGOs confirmed Mr. Brockington’s findings. Even more surprisingly, he said, those who are interested in celebrities do not necessarily know what causes they defend.

Celebrities to Advocate For Good Causes

According to another study by Mr. Brockington, despite the increasing use of celebrities to advocate for good causes (a strategy which, incidentally, dates at least from the Victorian era), the number of references to charities in classic newspaper and tabloid newspaper articles about celebrities increased only slightly between 1985 and 2010. “The proportion of newspaper articles mentioning humanitarian and development NGOs, in general, has also declined”, revealed this study.

The public’s interest in celebrities is perhaps overestimated.

After a steady rise in the prominence given to celebrities in the British press for twenty years, the percentage of articles mentioning the word celebrity (that is to say only a part of articles concerning the stars) stopped increasing around 2006 and now hovers around four percent of all articles analyzed (in The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun), the study found. After a constant increase, internal statistics for the magazine press sector have shown a decline in readership for several years.

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