If you are looking to raise awareness of your charity or cause, one of the most effective and quickest methods is through celebrity endorsement. The celebrity endorsement theory is very simple. People idolise celebrities – so, when a celebrity is seen to be working with a charity, they are prompted to learn more about the charity and lend their support. A celebrity can support a charity in a variety of different ways, whether that’s through sporadic social media support, acting as campaign Spokesperson, or taking an even more serious role by becoming an Ambassador or Board Member. In either case, here we have outlined the numerous benefits that charities can reap because of celebrity endorsement.
Whether you’re a large not-for-profit organisation or a small start-up charity, enlisting support from a celebrity will open you up to a greater number of media opportunities, thus providing you with a platform to help raise awareness of your charity and cause. Before embarking on a celebrity-led campaign, it is really important to ascertain which celebrities will be popular with the media, as well as your existing and potential donors, as this will have a direct link to the amount of reach and exposure that the celebrity will be able to generate for your cause.
Reach new audiences
As well as reaching wider audiences, another key benefit of working with a celebrity is that they can help you engage with a completely new demographic, which you may not have otherwise had access to – opening the door to new potential donors and supporters. People who may not have heard of, or felt connected to, your cause previously will now be open to learning more about it because their favourite celebrity is endorsing it.
We have worked with many charities in recent years on celebrity-based campaign activity to increase their visibility and raise brand awareness amongst a mass consumer audience.
Take Dementia UK as an example. Prior to the pandemic the charity challenged us with elevating awareness of their annual fundraising initiative, Time for a Cuppa, which encourages people to host a tea party with friends and family, whilst raising money for people impacted by dementia. To create some buzz and excitement around the initiative, we decided to launch a light-hearted celebrity-led photo stunt, which involved recreating some of the most iconic tea-drinking moments in movie-history – from films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Alice in Wonderland, and Mary Poppins.
Using five popular celebrities who have been personally touched by dementia – Emma Barton, Phyllis Logan, Naughty Boy, Jess Wright and Natalya Wright – we were able to create a series of fun and eye-catching images, and deliver coverage in titles such as the METRO, Daily Express, and Mail Online, as well as TV appearances on Lorraine and Good Morning Britain. Our celebrity supporters also shared the campaign across their social media channels, allowing us to tap into a large social media audience. Overall the campaign was able to generate mass awareness for the Time for a Cuppa fundraising event to a variety of different audiences and encouraged people across the country to sign up to support.
In today’s increasingly digital society, it is also advantageous for charities to look to work or partner with a celebrity (ies) or influencers who have a large social media following. The opportunity for people to engage with their favourite celebrity or influencer by hitting ‘share’, ‘comment’ or ‘like’ on a social media post about a charity campaign will help to spread the message further and quicker, thus resulting in a more successful campaign. We have had lots of success for charity clients in the past by building celebrity UGC (user-generated content) activity into our campaigns. This involves asking multiple celebrities and influencers to post an image on their social media profiles to support a particular piece of campaign activity. It’s a very quick and easy ask for the celebrity, however, for the charity, it can drive real impact by opening up their cause to an audience of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of new eyeballs in an instant.
For example at the turn of the year, one of the objectives set of us by leading kidney cancer charity, Kidney Cancer UK was to boost engagement with the charity’s long-running ‘Green Friday’ initiative on social media. To achieve this, we reached out to a list of celebrities and influencers who had a personal connection with kidney cancer and invited them to share an image of themselves wearing/cooking/enjoying something green on the morning of Green Friday – alongside the #GreenFriday hashtag and a link to the Kidney Cancer UK website.
Through this activity, we saw 17 social media posts shared by celebrities and influencers, helping the campaign reach over 465+ million people.
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Celebrities contribute to building awareness of a charity or campaign by taking their positive associations and transferring them to the promoted cause. Essentially, you are aligning two ‘brands’ together – so it’s very important that the celebrity is credible and has a natural synergy with the campaign.
We have a long-standing relationship with palliative and bereavement charity, Sue Ryder and one of our previous campaigns with them was regarding the announcement of social media influencer Lottie Tomlinson as their new celebrity Ambassador for bereavement. Having lost both her mother and sister within the space of three years, Lottie knows first hand the immense pain grieving for a loved one can cause and speaks passionately about why people in a similar position to herself shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help and support if they need. As a result of this deep connection with the cause, and the authenticity of the partnership, the announcement of Lottie’s ambassadorship has garnered much attention within the media and has resulted in widespread coverage for Sue Ryder. Due to Lottie’s age and the demographic of her following, her support on social media has also opened up a completely new audience to Sue Ryder’s invaluable work in the bereavement space.
As we have already established; when a celebrity is seen to be a supporter or a spokesperson for a charity, they use their fame to increase public awareness of an issue. Celebrities, therefore, have the power to add momentum to a cause in a way that ordinary people cannot.
The infamous ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ is a classic example of how celebrities can help to amplify a campaign movement and boost donations to a cause. The challenge, which encouraged people to dunk a bucket of iced water over their heads to encourage donations for the ALS Association, raised more than £76 million for Lou Gehrig’s Disease sufferers in just one month. How? The viral campaign exploded after high-profile names such as Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Damon, Victoria Beckham and so many more, filmed themselves being covered in an icy bucket of water, and shared this on their social media channels to raise money for the motor neurone disease. The quantity and quality of celebrities who lent their support helped the campaign to spread globally and encouraged people all over the world to take part.
If you want support with activating a celebrity endorsement for you charity, or how to plan a charity PR plan, speak to a member of our Third Sector PR team.