The celebrity and entertainment landscape is constantly evolving and the rise of the digital era is ushering in more platforms, voices and content at a faster pace than ever before. In this report, we place a spotlight on three celebrity trends that have been impacted by the digital wave – authenticity, activism and eSports.
This report is one in a series that will explore topics and trends that have caught our attention. Please enjoy!
Authenticity has become key to celebrity equity, and celebrities are finding new ways to engage with their fans on more platforms than ever to deliver a personal experience.
- Celebrities have a wide array of platforms for reaching audiences such as a streaming show (David Chang’s Netflix series Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner), Podcast (Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert), YouTube channel (Will Smith), short videos (TikTok star Loren Gray) and video games (Keanu Reeves in CD Projekt Red’s upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077) to name a few.
- Control is everything. Celebrities such as Nicki Minaj have seized on opportunities to create the ultimate celebrity experience for maximum engagement with fans. Nicki’s live streaming radio show Queen Radio features her takes on a variety of personal and hot topics that feel real and unscripted. She also uses the platform to promote new music and products, interact with her legion of fans known as ‘The Barbz’ on-air and chat with celebrity friends who stop by. There is zero doubt that you’ve entered her world.
- Delivering a more personal celebrity experience does come with risks. Thanks to social media, fans and critics are quick to call out celebrities for perceived inauthenticity or controversial comments/opinions. Another challenge is keeping up with the fast pace with which content is being produced to stay with or ahead of the pack, or risk falling victim to the content black hole.
Celebrity activism is on the rise. Platforms to amplify celebrity voices are widely accessible and help to bring greater attention to important causes, but also open up the possibility for criticism.
- Celebrities and activism have always gone together. Today, social media and digital platforms have given celebrities even more opportunities to impact the discussion on hot-button issues.
- Fighting for a cause further adds to the authenticity factor that is important for today’s celebrity, but it also presents the possibility of alienating a fan base or worse yet – a complete loss by way of the “cancel culture.” Social media has given a megaphone to a new generation of critics who are quick to judge any perceived mis-step. Today’s politics have created such a hyper-partisan environment that it’s nearly impossible to avoid offending someone. Sure, celebrities have more opportunities to make their voice heard, but navigating those waters is far more dangerous as well.
- Rising pop star, Billie Eilish, displayed her climate activism with a short video on YouTube titled Our House Is On Fire that also featured actor Woody Harrelson. Eilish also frequently posts on social media about the reality of the climate crisis with videos emphasizing that time is running out. Her popularity among teens impacts a demographic that can be hard to reach, particularly for politicians.
- Bill Nye’s efforts to inform and change the world cross over multiple platforms such as Netflix, with his series Bill Nye Saves the World, his podcast Science Rules! With Bill Nye and the viral video of him setting a globe on fire on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
- Of course, there are still celebrities like Jane Fonda who roll up their sleeves and forego the digital activism with a more public showing. Fonda’s ‘Fire Drill Fridays’ public protests in Washington D.C. for climate change led to her being arrested four times.
eSports moves closer towards the mainstream, drawing top celebrity and brand partnerships and turning star players/personalities into new celebrities.
- We’ve all seen the growing viewer and ad-revenue numbers circulating around eSports, but the sport still remains on the fringe of mainstream acceptance. That being said, the combination of the social media generation, gamer access to live streaming platforms and major brand/celebrity endorsements have been key to the continued growth of eSports both domestically and internationally.
- BRANDS: Major athletic brands Champion, Nike, Adidas all have partnerships with professional teams. Viewers have access to live streams via mega brands Amazon (Twitch), Microsoft (Mixer), Google (YouTube Gaming) and Facebook (Facebook Gaming). ESPN and Turner offer eSports programming.
- ATHLETES: The gamers and personalities themselves are growing in recognition. The Fortnite game has made celebrities out of gamers such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins who will be a guest on season 3 of Kevin Hart’s Cold as Balls talk show and DrLupo who is one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential people on the Internet. YouTube gaming personalities are immensely popular as seen by the subscriber counts for personalities PewDiePie (102 million) and Markiplier (24.6 million).
- EVENTS: Who says eSports can’t compete with the major sports? The 2019 League of Legends World Championship had viewer counts close to 100 million, rivaling Super Bowl viewership numbers. The Fortnite World Cup winner cashed out with $3 million in prize money, which is higher than the $2.07 million that Tiger Woods took home for his 2019 Masters Tournament win.
- CELEBRITIES: Athletes and Hip Hop artists are the most visible celebrity influencers helping to drive eSports forward. eSports has benefited from the attention brought by celebrities such as Drake (viral video of him playing Fortnite with Ninja, co-owner of eSports organization 100 Thieves), The Weeknd (investor in eSports organization Overactive Media and will create content specific to eSports) and Shaquille O’Neal (investor in eSports organization NRG and does promo work for the company’s Overwatch team).
As the most comprehensive resource for celebrity marketing, E-Score clients can easily sort celebrities based on consumer ratings of celebrity authenticity, activism, endorsement power, fan passion and more than 50 other attributes. In addition, E-Score Brand tracks dozens of eSports games, leagues, sponsors and related brands. Contact your E-Score representative for more information.
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