March 29, 2005

3/29 - How to Use "Celebrity Patrons" for the environment? The NY Times addresses the question

Here at Shifting Baselines we have a very firm philosophy on the use of "celebrity patrons" which is to "let entertainers do what they do best -- entertain."

Rather than having Jack Black look sincerely into the camera and say, "Won't you help me in my efforts to save the world's oceans," we had him dance around as the conductor of the Ocean Symphony PSA, and then later in the PSA we slipped in the animation of disappearing fish in the kelp forest. The net result -- two years later people still love watching the spot and it is still being aired around the country. No one ever complained about the celebrities preaching to them because ... we didn't have any celebrities preaching to anyone. They just used their entertainment skills to help call attention to the issue.

This is in contrast to back in the 1980's when people used to throw their shoes at their tv sets every time they saw Sally Struthers walking among the starving African children while begging you to help her out in her desperate mission. Preaching into the camera was something that got worn out in the 1980's. Today's audiences demand something a little more clever and indirect. One would hope that the environmental movement, in the midst of its "Death of Environmentalism" identity crisis, would be keeping this in mind as they continue to use celebrities, particularly after the substantial amount of Hollywood celebrity backlash in last year's election antics.

How many times do we have to say it, "The audience has changed." Here's an excerpt from yesterday's NY Times article:

Environmental groups have struggled with the appropriate use of celebrity patrons. In 2000, Leonardo DiCaprio interviewed President Bill Clinton for an Earth Day special on ABC, but Mr. DiCaprio's exclusive generated a storm of bad publicity. Journalists, including those worked for ABC, griped about an hour of prime time being turned over to a superstar advocate. Even more stinging were the show's low ratings.

Cameron Diaz, star and producer of "Trippin'"

Posted by Randy Olson at March 29, 2005 08:19 AM