Do Celebs Help the Green Movement?

Earth911 Earth911 examines the impact that various celebrities can have on the environmental movement. The modern celebrity needs to authentically support their cause (beyond a donation) by walking the walk. One example of an actor who has effectively made himself an environmental ambassador is new ecoAmerica Director, Ed Begley.

Posted May 6, 2010
By Katherine Chen, Earth 911

At the 82nd Academy Awards, an event famous for its decadence and
sparkling glitterati, Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson arrived wearing a
custom-made Burberry tuxedo made entirely of hemp.

The suit represented Harrelson’s well-known support of hemp, a
sustainable material that could substitute both paper and cloth in the
near future.

In recent years, several prominent celebrities, including Jon Bon
Jovi and Angelina Jolie, have stepped into the spotlight and showed the
world how living sustainably could be glamorous and even fun.

But how financially effective are celebrity endorsements? Do they
succeed in altering the average consumer’s opinion of organic
products
? Do they inspire more people to recycle, much less take on
a whole new lifestyle?

Ed begley Michael d’Estries, co-creator of Ecorazzi.com, was inspired to create a green gossip
website after his co-founder, Rebecca Carter, wrote an article on
eco-friendly celebrity activists for another website he runs.

“It’s no secret that celebrity gossip sites drive a lot of traffic
online, and I thought it would be beneficial to tap into that and try
and make some good come from it,” he says

While Ecorazzi.com began with just a focus on green issues, the
website eventually branched out into other hot-button topics, such as
animal rights and ethical
fashion
.

“We thought we might give organizations being backed by these celebs a
bit more of the spotlight and help push their initiatives to a larger
audience,” d’Estries adds.

Despite all the hype surrounding A-list celebrities these days,
d’Estries is unsure whether or not celebrity sponsorship of green
products really affects the consumer’s decision to go green. He explains
that the effectiveness of these public endorsements are difficult to
gauge, even though we are exposed to new advertisements on a regular
basis, from online ads to giant billboards.

“If you see a picture of George Clooney holding a bottle of organic
vodka, that’s definitely going to resonate,” d’Estries says.
“Celebrities do that. They’re recognizable and definitively draw
attention to products.

Whether or not that translates into sales is another thing. I think
they’re probably more effective at using the spotlight to draw awareness
to campaigns and initiatives than products.”

According to d’Estries, celebrities who want to support green causes
have had to go the extra mile in recent years. While charitable
donations and other humanitarian initiatives do not necessarily require
celebrities to change their everyday lifestyle, actors, socialites and
other high-profile stars are now expected to adopt the green campaigns
they advocate.

“Back when green was hot, you had a bevy of famous faces backing
green campaigns but doing very little in their personal lives to provide
a level of genuine support. It wasn’t malicious, just short-sighted.
Most celebrities love to give back by sharing the spotlight – but rarely
do they have to change their own lifestyles as a result,” d’Estries
says.

“This early adoption of green issues, in many ways, hurt the green
scene as people naturally concentrated on the celebrity’s failings,
rather than the big picture of the campaign they were supporting.”

“I’m seeing a lot more education on the topics than earlier – and a
lot more passion too,” d’Estries adds.

A few of d’Estries’ personal favorites include Daryl Hannah, Leonardo
DiCaprio, Alicia Silverstone and Ed Begley Jr. d’Estries calls Begley
Jr. “a constant green machine in every aspect of his life,” and says he
was impressed with Silverstone’s green efforts, which to date include
the publication of a vegan book and the launch of a website devoted to
tips on maintaining a vegan diet.

Luckily for both Hollywood and Mother Nature, it looks like “green”
is a trend that is here to stay.

“One can definitely make the case that ‘going green’ doesn’t have the
same marketing buzz that it carried a few years ago, but I think green
issues transcend the ‘trend’ label in how they impact our lives and the
world around us,” d’Estries says. “I personally believe the movement is
maturing to a point where it doesn’t have to compete with, say, the iPad
in terms of something hip.”

So what are a few green trends that are in style now? d’Estries says
that going vegan and wearing animal-friendly fashion are gaining
momentum in the celebrity world, as are an increase in the number of
vegetarian food scenes.

On the other hand, driving a hybrid is considered normal, which makes
it “out of style,” especially in light of the new electric car models
slated for release later this year.

No Responses to “Do Celebs Help the Green Movement?”

  1. Great post. It’s an interesting question that people in marketing have been asking since the first celeb-backed product pitch: do celebrities help or hurt? They certainly bring visibility as you mentioned, but that’s not always good (Tiger Woods, anyone?). I think for a celeb endorsement to work, it has to be someone who believes in the cause and the product and leads a consistent, transparent lifestyle. Because celebrities lead such a public life, you will almost always see them conspicuously consuming or jet setting. That could reflect negatively on a green product/movement that they have publicly endorsed. I guess my answer is: it depends!

  2. Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree. It also depends on how good a fit the celebrity is for what they are promoting in terms of both product and audience.

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