Changing Face of Celebrity

The New York Times ran a long article entitled “Nothing Sells Like Celebrity”. Professor Robert Cialdini makes it clear why celebrity is still important in an age of information overload.

“We’ve used our cognitive capacity to build a sophisticated informational and technological environment,” he says. But overloaded with information and stimulation, shoppers’ brains revert to a more primitive, raw association of celebrity and product, Mr. Cialdini explains.

One fact jumped out at me from a bit about the Davie Brown Index of celebrity which marketers use to decide “who’s hot”–there are a lot of African Americans in the top 20 celebrities. The list is compiled from criteria such as “consumer awareness, likeability and trendsetting aility”. Among the top 20 ranked are: Will Smith, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Sean Combs, Beyonce, Jay Z and Morgan Freeman.

I raise this because I was at a dinner party on Friday night with some smart people from LA who were worried that Obama will be the victim of racist backlash this November. I think the country has changed more than these LA types, who only know the middle of America as “the flyover”. If the largest corporations in America, with all their research capabilities, are using well known African Americans to represent their brand, don’t they know something that these limousine liberals don’t?

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0 Responses to Changing Face of Celebrity

  1. BobbyG says:

    The only backlash against Obama that gives me serious concern is that of a nutcase with a firearm. Other than that, I think you are spot on, as far as where the nation has come in terms of aggregate attitude on race.

  2. Dan says:

    You may be right that we have become more willing to accept racial minorities in positions of high power due to celebrity appeal, but I’d greatly prefer that we accept them because we like their policies.

    If people elect Obama because he’s the latest hip thing, then 2010 will look just like 1994, with the latest Newt Gingrich declaring war on the White House and the government.

    And the people who have tired of the latest brand will eagerly seize on to the new one.

  3. Fentex says:

    Barack Obama, having won the Democratic nomination and appealing widely to people hoping for significant change in the U.S executive branch have some recent news to ponder about that.

    This article on Boing boing:

    would appear to put the lie to Barack Obama representing real change and reinforces the cynical position that no one will willingly give up tyrannical power once they have it.

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