Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are among Hollywood's most famous couples. But the pair, known among the paparazzi entourage as "Brangelina," also are among the most influential celebrities when it comes to cause marketing and supporting not-for-profit organizations.
According to a new survey from First Call, a division of sports and entertainment agency Octagon, McLean, Va., both Pitt and Jolie were among the top celebrities or athletes whose actions and causes were cited in responses from nearly 500 executives who either decide or strongly influence how their companies budget their cause marketing dollars. Specifically, Pitt's work in helping to rebuild New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Jolie's association with Unicef and full-time efforts for Unhcr were top of mind among responders.
At the top of the list, however, was Lance Armstrong, whose battle to overcome cancer and subsequent founding and support of LiveStrong drew the most responses. According to David Schwab, managing director at First Call, which specializes in celebrity acquisition and activation, "Armstrong's personal battle with cancer and resulting LiveStrong campaign left a strong impression on the public, reinforcing . . . that personal connections matter.
Jolie was second behind Armstrong. The top 10 also included, in order: Bono (for his work with RED), Tiger Woods (The Tiger Woods Learning Center/Foundation), Bill Gates (for various causes), Pitt, Al Gore (global warming), George Clooney (Darfur), Michael J. Fox (Parkinson's disease) and Peyton Manning (PeyBack Foundation).
Other celebs named in the survey were Sarah McLachlan (ASPCA), Cynthia Nixon (Susan G. Komen for the Cure), Pamela Anderson (PETA), Jerry Lewis (Muscular Dystrophy), Oprah Winfrey (Big Give) and Jenny McCarthy (autism).
As the survey was conducted in July, the list was compiled prior to Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps raising global awareness about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and actress Christina Applegate revealing she had breast cancer and a double mastectomy and actively joining the campaign to find a cure.
According to the survey, 73.8% of those who responded said their personal opinion about a celebrity spokesperson, be it positive or negative, directly affects the perception of the cause marketing campaign they support; while 68.8% said that, as in the case with Armstrong, they are more likely to commit time, money or other resources to an effort if the celebrity spokesperson has a personal connect with the cause itself.