Dec 5, 2010

Celebrity Influence is Dead

The Buy Life campaign started off with a bang. Images of celebrities in coffins became circulating the web, piquing everyone's interest. Among the dead were Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys. What these high profile celebrities have in common is there fame and their supposed online influence.

The basis of the campaign was to have these social media butterflies sacrifice their digital lives on World AIDS Day. The celebrities committed to signing offline, no longer engaging with their fans, until the funds were raised for Keys' Keep a Child Alive charity. The entire endeavor was only supposed to last one day, December 1, but apparently the celebrities' online influence doesn't impact fans wallets.

It's been four days and the celebrities are still dead to the online world. The paparazzi shots are still flooding the gossip blogs, but their mundane thoughts have not been heard. The core of the Buy Life campaign was solid - using celebrities to encourage donations should have worked. What happened?

The A List can attest to the influence of celebrities in the digital world. When this blog was retweeted by celebrities, the hits soared. The celebrities participating in this campaign have thousands upon thousands of followers, but either no one wants cares about their tweets or no one wants to open their wallets for the celebrities.

This is where I get confused. Celebrities are constantly used to hawk products, and their influence works. Us normal folk tend to buy products when we see that celebrities use them (hello PR and product placement!), so why doesn't the same influence translate online?


  1. I think the issue is two-fold: 1/ The influence they're asking for isn't related to consumerism, it was related to a charitable donation which doesn't have the same clout (sad to say) as Kim Kardashian hawking a pair of designer jeans (so that you can in turn say, I own the same jeans as Kim K.) and 2/ Somehow HIV/AIDS has fallen off the radar of "fashionable" diseases to care about. People are immune to the campaigning now (I would argue breast cancer is a hotter cause nowadays... as weird as that sentence was to write...). It's crazy all around.

  2. The BUY LIFE campaign was doomed from the start. Besides the misguided assumption these celebrity voices have far greater influence then they actually do have - BUY LIFE tanked because it failed to utilize a key marketing trick you almost ALWAYS need to sell anything - WORD-OF-MOUTH. In creating the BUY LIFE campaign, the PR brain trust actually SILENCED the voices (duh.)

  3. At the end of the day (lol) I don't think people care enough about the celebs featured in this campaign - it was almost too clever by half.

    I can't help but wonder what's going on behind closed doors of those involved in this campaign...because as every day goes by, the campaign is seen as a failure...

  4. After 6 highly unsuccessful days, the Buy Life campaign suddenly reached their $1 million goal today. The celebrities' digital lives were brought back and Twitter was buzzing with their mindless thoughts.

    My question: how were all the funds miraculously raised? Were celebrities forced to buy their lives back using their unlimited funds?

  5. Great comments everyone!

    Naddy - I agree that HIV/AIDS has fallen off the "fashionable" diseases list. But like Richard suggested, if the celebrities had been able to promote the campaign during its run, perhaps its profile would have been raised. The advertising was cute, but it wasn't enough to captivate the masses and encourage them to donate.

    Elissa, do you think using different celebrities would have made a difference to the success of the campaign? Kim Kardashian has over five million Twitter followers - presumably she should have some sort of pull. Next time they should consider signing up Robert Pattinson!

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