Causes and Celebrities - 'Til Death Do Us Part?

Jul 5, 2011 12:30 PM ET

What Do You Stand For?

Fifteen minutes might be the average celebrity lifespan in our reality TV world, but successful celebrity-cause partnerships require something more long lasting. Articles this week in both Fast Company and on Mashable discussed some of the pros and cons of involving a celebrity in your cause, but both touched on a common thread: long-term relationships are a key to success.  

Unlike most Hollywood unions, an enduring relationship between celeb and nonprofit requires a real commitment. Celebrities willing to pursue lasting relationships with charities show they truly care about the issues, enough to want to dedicate time to the cause beyond a single PSA or photo-op. The added benefit is that over time, the celebrity’s knowledge about the issue grows and he or she becomes a credible voice for the organization, in addition to a famous face. The result is a sense of sincerity and passion, which is so critical to securing consumer trust. In fact, the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study found 81 percent of Americans believe that if a celebrity’s commitment to a cause is authentic, he or she can play a significant role in raising awareness for the issue.

To ensure a long-term relationship with a celebrity:
•    Do your homework. Look for a strategic partner whose assets, competencies and dedication complement those of the charity and the cause.  
•    Tap into their assets. Beyond a pretty face or a recognizable name, celebrities can offer personal stories and connections to a cause, or offer a new, creative twist on a campaign that leverages a celebrity’s talents or interests.
•    Encourage involvement. Dedicated celebrities want to go beyond an appearance or ad; embolden them to dig into the issue, like Josh Holloway’s partnership with the Nature Valley* National Parks Project. Josh volunteered to get his hands dirty at a service event at the Joshua Tree National Park.
•    Emulate the power couples. Look to other partnerships that seem authentic and true for inspiration on how to make your own relationship as deep. Think Reese Witherspoon and Avon* or Pierce Brosnan and the National Resources Defense Council.
•    Treat the relationship like any other program. Re-evaluate and refresh it over time so neither one of you is likely to stray.

What’s your favorite cause-celebrity partnership? Tell us on our blog.

*Cone client