Nearly half of British people believe that most celebrities who promote charities are cynically trying to improve their own public image, our poll has revealed.
Conversely, over a third of people say that most celebrities who promote charities are genuinely trying to use their position to do something good for others.
- 46% of British people believe that most celebrities who promote charities are ‘cynically trying to improve their own public image’
- While 36% say celebrities who promote charities are genuinely trying to use their position to do something good for others
- Men are more likely to believe celebrities are self-serving in their charity work, with 52% saying celebrities are cynically trying to promote their own image, compared to 40% of women who think the same
Earlier this year, in an article for the BBC (which relies on celebrities for numerous charity fundraising drives such as Comic Relief and Sport Relief) Giles Edwards asked if celebrity activism had gone too far, and if good causes were becoming too dependent on star power. Three quarters of the thirty largest charities in the UK, apart from care and housing trusts, have someone working full-time on managing the charity’s relationships with celebrity supporters.
Conflict of interest
Charities often use celebrities in advertising or charity campaigns, but this has been seen to backfire in the case of a number of high profile celebrities and companies.
In one example, supermodel Naomi Campbell posed for animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ‘I'd rather go naked than wear fur’ adverts, but seemed shocked at the backlash when she later featured in an ad campaign for a luxury New York furrier, and appeared on the catwalk wearing real fur.
John Hilary, chief executive of War on Want, has said: ‘Celebrities have a very powerful voice’ – Comic Relief in particular raised a record-breaking £102 million for good causes in both the UK and elsewhere this year – but Hilary warns:
‘It's imperative that the power of that voice is directed in the right direction, that it's not… taken into a different dimension which isn't actually helping the cause, and in fact can sometimes harm the cause that they are representing’.