Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Endangered Sea Turtles: bringing awareness through celebrity involvement

Having celebrities involved with conservation awareness campaigns or other related promotions has been around for some time. As with other important causes, celebrity endorsements can attract both attention and needed dollars for ecological issues and the organizations that address them. The challenge is in finding the right person to reach a particular audience and deliver a message that resonates.

At one end of the spectrum are the serious and dedicated celebrities who genuinely give considerable time and effort; people like Ted Danson or Leonard DiCaprio. From there it travels down a sliding scale of both gravitas and extended involvement. But not to be cynical of their participation; it's not necessarily a self-serving exercise on their part. There hasn't been shown a strong correlation between a celebrity's attachment to a cause and a marked increase in their box office draw or CD sales or television ratings. So, credit where credit is due for their commitment.

Oceana has been waging an ad campaign for sea turtle protection using some of today's celebrities that can connect with a younger audience. Not younger as in children, but more targeted to the "Post-Boomers" and "Gen X" crowd, the next generation in line to inherit the burden of addressing ecological issues. Here are two PSA (public service announcements) Oceana produced, one with actress Kate Walsh and one with comediennes Rachael Harris and Angela Kinsey. Each PSA has a different flavor or tone; each has a different level of information presented both in words and in images. Each is trying to connect with different audiences.

Kate Walsh Wants to Save Sea Turtles from Oceana on Vimeo.

Rachael Harris and Angela Kinsey want to 'Get Turtles Off the Hook' from Oceana on Vimeo.

Of course, the nagging question with all celebrity endorsements is whether they generate any real results on behalf of the cause or issue at hand. Do they simply generate additional funding for an organization? Does that equate into real action and quantifiable results? Having been involved in media communications for many years, I know that it is often difficult to establish a "cause and effect" with public awareness promotions. It's part calculated science and part art form.

There's no doubt that sea turtles - all species of which are threatened with extinction - need protection. But you must first start with broad public awareness which, in turn, can support organizations who, in turn, work with governments and businesses to initiate protective measures. To do that means connecting with the people - the young and the old, the silly and the serious, the knowledgeable and the ignorant - anyway you can.

See more of Oceana's sea turtle campaign at their website.

No comments: