Following the results of our study into the emotions of the most popular celebrities on twitter (which found that Harry Styles of 1D was the happiest celebrity on Twitter), I started thinking about how the study could fit into the wider corpus of research on celebrities, emotion and – by extension – sponsorship. I wanted to uncover the reasons why celebrities are so ubiquitous and relevant today.
A Celebrity “is a person who is know for his well-knowness” (Boorstin, 1961). This basically means that a person who is well-known, for whatever reason, would be classed as a celebrity. One of the proposed reasons why these people (talented or not) have come to dominate our collective consciousness is due to the breakdown in traditional social relationships and structures throughout the Western World (for example, the demise of the Church and the nuclear family, more time spent on technology rather than with friends, the rise of virtual communications etc). In a bid for humans to function as a social species, they attempt to fill the gap left by traditional social sources by engaging with celebrities using parasocial relationships. These are:
“One-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence.”
In addition, celebrities are also susceptible to an emotional phenomenon called the Halo Effect. This refers to the process of a positive perception of something (or someone) spilling over onto other aspects of that something (or someone). Given that many celebrities are famous for demonstrating expert skills in an area (e.g. Sports, Acting, Music), the positive perception of that skills is then passed over onto other aspects of that celebrity like their personality, humanitarian causes and opinions.
Image Source: Psychology for Marketers
This positive perception of celebrities is also the driving the force behind celebrity sponsorship. Companies wish for the positive halo surrounding celebrities and their lifestyle choices to transfer to their products and are willing to pay copious amounts of money to achieve that transfer.
To learn more about these themes, click the link here.