18 Jun 2015

Ideas Bank: Using Celebrities For Good

At Don’t Panic London we are always thinking about and developing new ideas even when we don’t have to. It’s in our make-up, our DNA. So that these inspirations don’t go to waste, we fold them up and deposit them in the Ideas Bank. Then every now and then we pick out a couple to show off to you guys!

Client: International Children’s Charity

Objective: Create a short film that raises awareness and support for the charity’s work towards combating disease, utilising the charity’s celebrity supporters who will feature in the film.

Idea: Subvert the celebrity status of one of those charity patrons and in doing so create a film with simple and humorous content that will reach the public via traditional and social media.

Treatment: The idea of this short film is to use the celebrity ambassadors at our disposal in more unusual ways.

We create two exaggerated and distinct personas for each star, playing on what we already perceive about them. Our film is set up to look like unedited, behind-the-scenes footage. Cameras and lights are being rigged. Both stars turn up with their entourages. They are introduced by the charity person / creative on set. Pleasantries are exchanged. One star is asked to get into a garish costume, whilst the other is left to dress himself. The costumed celebrity, on seeing the other without similar garb, becomes increasingly irate especially after the manager suggests he must wear the costume because no one knows who he/she is. The children arrive on set for a lesson on the cause from the two and proceed to mob one star, ignoring the costumed other. The film goes on in this manner with our costumed character going to increasing lengths to prove his iconic status.


The man under the suit? No one knows…

Discussion: Celebrities often feature in outreach and cause-related adverts for their affiliated charities. The likes of David Beckham and Katy Perry have huge social capital with millions of followers across social media platforms and their influence helps market a particular message. Yet these stars are often cast in serious roles, making for a message heavy and sombre tone that lacks that viral power. It’s a model that time and time again fails to go big, with shares generally not extending beyond the celebrity’s/charity’s core and engaged fanbase. Indeed using the mega rich to talk about issues such as poverty can come across as fairly condescending. Being lectured on giving by someone who earns your annual salary in a matter of hours is hardly a crowd pleaser…

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 17.24.51This ballad from HBOs biggest stars was a massive hit.
Examples of better celebrity charity videos: The huge successes of the recent “Game of Thrones: the musical” (above) or “Celebrity Phone Tree” for Red Nose Day testify to the benefits of casting more ambitious and original roles for celebrity charity patrons. It’s certainly easier to watch celebrities in more self-deprecating roles such as Seth Rogan’s “Hilarity for charity”, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s “$10 date offer” for Omaze and the brilliant Ricky Gervais’ fake “Visit to Africa” for Comic Relief. Similar to our idea above, the holier-than-thou element is absent from this sort of content, but they still manage to communicate the key charity messages. Humour goes a long way!