Aug 2, 2011
I hear this comment enough that I thought it apropos to write on it. In fact, it came up in this month's workshop as we discussed ways that nonprofits seek to market themselves, one of which is to find a celebrity to speak for the cause.
We all know the success stories, like Lance Armstrong raising millions for Leukemia research, or Angelina Jolie raising millions for Doctors Without Borders and wonder (or dream) about who we might get to speak for our cause that would result in millions of new dollars (we'd even settle for a few hundred thousand).
Problem is, we are all too tempted to overemphasize the success of these types of endorsements while underestimating the extreme unlikelihood of this happening for our organization. More importantly, we often fail to see how putting any energy in this at all takes our eyes off the real goal for the parachurch--helping Christians mature spiritually as they interact in community around kingdom causes.
First, let me help you get realistic about a celebrity endeavor...A great article in January's Ad Age by Peter Daboll reported on a study that found "big names don't pay dividends." The title of the article was "Celebrities in Advertising Are Almost Always a Big Waste of Money" (no hidden meaning there!)
A few things worth noting: 1)Today's consumer is more likely to be influenced by someone in their social network than a weak celebrity connection. 2) Today's consumer is informed, time-compressed, and difficult to impress, and IF they are influenced by ads it is because they are relevant and provide information they were looking for. 3) Today’s consumer doesn't want to have products pushed at them, even from a celebrity.
The bottom line is that the study empirically showed that a celebrity has little to no impact on an ad's effectiveness. In fact, regardless of gender or age, ads without celebrities out-performed ads with them.
If that doesn't shake your longing for a celebrity then I'm not sure much will! But, let me take it one step further.
Consider...has our great Lord and Savior called you to the position you're in now just to extract money from people's wallets? Of course not! Even if you were able to raise millions and millions of dollars from people to support the cause, what gain is it if none gave with a heart toward God? What gain is it if through their giving people didn't come to know Christ more deeply, or see him more clearly? If we keep our eyes focused on the right things then we'll realize that the amount of money we raise, or the amount a person gives, is never the object of importance. Like the widow's mite, or like Zaccheus, or like the Macedonians, it's all about the heart and mind being transformed. It's about giving generously, whatever that looks like for each of us, as we rejoice in who Christ is and eagerly serve him through the gifts we've been given.
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