Stars who align with the two movements see a boost in relatability, trustworthiness and attractiveness, a survey shows.
#MeToo and Time’s Up are upping celebrity cachet.
Stars who align with the Hollywood-led gender-equality movements are perceived as more relatable and trustworthy, according to an analysis by the Boston-based data and research firm Spotted, which helps brands make celebrity partnership decisions.
Part of the report focused on five actors who had associated themselves with #MeToo and Time’s Up: Reese Witherspoon, who revealed last fall that a director had sexually assaulted her when she was 16; Ashley Judd, an early Harvey Weinstein accuser who has helped lead the Time’s Up movement; Terry Crews, who disclosed in October he’d been sexually assaulted by a “high-level” male Hollywood exec; Natalie Portman, who said in a February interview she had experienced harassment throughout her showbiz career; and Kerry Washington, who helped deliver a group message about #MeToo at this year’s NAACP Image Awards.
Nearly six in 10 respondents (59%) viewed these “cause-driven” celebs as more trustworthy after reading about their stories, according to the survey of more than 200 U.S. consumers over age 18, while 52% saw them as more relatable. About half (51%) perceived them as cooler, and 45% viewed them as more attractive.
The report also surveyed consumer opinion on celebrities who are honest and open about mental health and/or addiction issues, including pop stars Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez; rapper Kid Cudi; and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
While the women experienced bigger boosts in perception than men across the board, all were perceived more positively — with 67% of people thinking they were more relatable after reading their stories, 64% viewing them as more likable, 60% viewing them as more trustworthy, 42% viewing them as cooler, and 38% viewing them as more attractive.
Some brands have been wary about aligning themselves with celebrities who are outspoken in these areas, Spotted CEO and co-founder Janet Comenos told Moneyish. But it “doesn’t damage your brand,” she said. “It actually helps you become a more relatable brand to consumers if you have an endorser who’s been outspoken about one of these issues.”
This positive association may be related to consumers’ heightened emphasis on social responsibility, said Emily Balcetis, an associate professor of psychology at New York University. Celebrities’ use of their power and platform can help give voice to marginalized people and normalize the experiences of sexual assault and mental illness, she suggested — fulfilling a “social contract” for the greater good, in a sense.
“Individuals are finding companies, corporations, celebrities and brands that have the core value of social responsibility more attractive now than they have in the past,” Balcetis told Moneyish. Indeed, 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, according to a 2015 Nielsen report. And more than nine in 10 millennials would change brands to one linked with a cause, the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study found.
“That’s what people are looking for now … another person who cares about helping others, helping society, helping our greater communities, when it could come at personal cost,” Balcetis said.
Celebrities tend to “pave the way for everyday consumers,” Comenos added. “They help destigmatize issues, and then it becomes more OK for consumers to speak out about those issues.” Plus, she said, talking candidly about sexual misconduct has become more acceptable over time.
“It’s a lot more accepted now than it was a year and a half ago or even six months ago,” Comenos said. “I think the tides are changing.”
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