RICHMOND, VA: Who is the most effective and familiar celebrity
In a phone survey of more than 1000 Americans conducted by fledgling
firm Slay Public Relations (see story, p.7) with Bruskin/Goldring
Research of Edison, NJ, 35.6% of respondents named comedian Jerry Lewis,
pitchman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, as the most familiar
celebrity promoting a charity or cause.
Actors Michael J. Fox and Charlton Heston ranked second and third
respectively, with 16.2% and 8.8%. Fox represents Parkinson's Disease,
an illness he has been battling, while Heston is associated with the
National Rifle Association.
The survey was conducted in April to determine just how famous certain
celebrities were, and whether or not Americans believe they help with
social causes. Other celebrities named included Christopher Reeve (7.6%,
spinal cord injuries); Katie Couric (5.6%, colon cancer); and Elton John
The findings revealed that 'what we pay attention to is driven by
marketing, money and celebrityhood,' according to Joe Slay, president of
the Richmond-based PR agency.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing. 'The study shows that Americans
believe celebrities have more access to the media to promote social
causes,' Slay continued. Thirty percent of Americans believe there are
not enough celebrities helping worthwhile causes in the media, although
38.8% say celebrity involvement is 'just right.'
While Americans believe that politicians beat athletes (25.9% to 19.3%)
for unlocking the door to media access, politics and sports are
virtually tied when it comes to what they think attracts media
attention. Entertainment and lifestyles was third at 15.7%. And all the
issues that politicians use as platforms - education, health,
environment and technology - each ranked below 5%.