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									                               Celebrity!
May 2006
Issue 12
Celebrity                                                                                                              by Markus Matthews




                               We all want a bit of it; we all have a tinge of wanting   celebrities to promote issues such as environmental
                               to be famous. In our celebrity-saturated and              sustainability turns the issue into a trend that ebbs
                               over-inflated ego-driven world it’s hard not to be        and flows according to the dictates of popular
                               impacted by individuals whose faces adorn the             culture and media exposure.
                               covers of magazines and whose pronouncements
                               vie for our attention in the digital media. Celebrities   Whatever the case, celebrity treads a very fine line
                               come at us from every which way and from every            and as consumers we must arm ourselves with the
                               lifestyle. Corporations use celebrities to endorse        tools to make informed judgments about those who
                               products, non-profits use celebrities to spread a         use their status to exert influence over us.
                               social or environmental message and all the while
                               celebrities get more and more exposure. Just take          Of course, the celebrity phenomenon is not
                               the example of People magazine – so successful             confined to Hollywood and the entertainment
                               that it earned top place on Adweek’s “hot list” of         industry. An increasing number of corporate leaders
                               magazines for 2005. Then there’s Vanity Fair, which        are being turned into celebrities or being touted as
                               recently devoted an entire issue to environmental         “gurus” in their respective industries – BP’s John
                               celebrity-ism, profiling everyone from Bette Middler       Browne and GE’s Jeff Immelt are just two examples.
                               to Goldman Sach’s Hank Paulson.                            Even manufactured celebrities are being use to
                                                                                          spread a message – witness the revival of Kermit
                               In this issue we delve into the topic of celebrity and     the Frog (once a puppet now a digital creation) by
                               what it means to us as consumers. We look at how           automobile giant, Ford. Increasingly, celebrities
                               celebrity plays itself into our purchasing decisions,      are being used to sell entire lifestyles: Martha
                               how it affects our take on social and environmental        Stewart is soon to launch her own “branded” line
                               issues and how companies and non-profits use               of residences aimed at the mass-market (“it’s a
                               celebrities to sell product, get a message out and         good thing”) and Bono is being used by American
                               enhance their profile.                                     Express to promote its new Red Card – every time
                                                                                          you spend, a proportion goes to the Global Fund
                               Most of us are aware of the positive impact some           for fighting HIV/AIDS: “you don’t have to make any
                               celebrities are having on the world, whether it be         extra effort to make a difference.”
                               championing efforts to role back global warming
                               or helping kids suffering from cancer to lead better      But there is hope on the horizon when no less
                               lives. But we also see the negative side of the           a celebrity than the Queen of England reportedly
                               celebrity phenomenon – blatant self-promotion             expressed her “grave concerns over the White
                               and the transference of responsibility for many           House’s stance on global warming.” (Vanity Fair,
                               of today’s problems from us to those we believe           May 2006, p203). She is not amused by rising
                               have the wherewithal and power to effect change.          temperatures and the British tabloids have had
                               There’s also the very real chance that the use of         a field day.




Green Team
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Tel 212 966 6365
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