Celebrities and elections: a completely different red carpet

MANILA, Philippines – It’s common knowledge that the Philippines is a country of showbiz. We treat Miss Universe pageants like others would NBA Finals and Oscars. We devote hours of our time to the most recent and past love teams, and we praise any celebrity who has the slightest hint of Filipino in their blood.

Elections are no different as many personalities have dabbled in politics and emerged victorious, for example former President Joseph Estrada (actor), former Vice President Noli de Castro (broadcaster) and Sens. Lito Lapid (actor), Bong Revilla (actor) and Tito Sotto (host/singer).

If not to run, some celebrities publicly endorse candidates during their campaign. In 2004, Judy Ann Santos endorsed Jamby Madrigal’s successful senatorial run, while in 2016 then-rising couple Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla (nicknamed “KathNiel”) backed the Liberal Party ticket of Mar Roxas and Leni. Robredo.

The 2022 election is no different, as celebrity support has poured in for multiple camps – former Pinoy Big Brother host Toni Gonzaga was a consistent outing host for Bongbong Marcos, Sotto’s brother Vic has rallied their fellow hosts “Eat Bulaga” to push his candidacy for Vice President, and KathNiel’s subtle support of Robredo was overshadowed by the huge presence of Angel Locsin, Jolina Magdangal and Vice Ganda.

Celebrity power as a difference

Yet somehow these recent elections seem to stand out from the past participation of celebrities in politics, never have the Filipino people seen such overwhelming support for the candidates chosen to the point that they are become frequent appearances on outings.

Dr Ruanni Tupas, a Filipino scholar in the Department of Culture, Communication and Media, IOE, Faculty of Education and Society at UCL London, says the difference lies in the evolution of celebrity power .

“Celebrities then were celebrities from TV and TV culture. Now they are celebrities from a wider variety of platforms, including different social media platforms,” ​​Tupas told Philstar.com. “It means engagement with voters is more direct and immediate.”

For Tupas, it also means that celebrity power comes from all kinds of people, not just actors and singers, but also online influencers whose followers number in the thousands, if not millions.

But does the impact of celebrity have a huge effect on a campaign? Tupas says it’s a complex assessment.

“Celebrities can help boost the awareness level of certain candidates, although that doesn’t mean it translates into votes,” he added.

Using the 2022 election as an example, the majority of the country’s biggest stars attended Robredo’s rallies while a few went to Marcos – and yet it was the latter who was able to receive over 30 million votes , almost twice as much as Robredo.

This makes the Marcos campaign an interesting case study for PUBLICITYASIA founder Joyce Ramirez, who helped him launch the now popular “BBM” brand that was conceptualized during his 2016 VP and campaign digital of Grace Poe when she ran for president the same year. .

“He’s a man who decided to ignore all the debate and use his limited time to campaign directly to the people,” Ramirez told Philstar.com, also pointing out that the celebrity endorsements still don’t add up. to the mentions of fellow politicians that Marcos had numerous.

The social media and misinformation factor

Tupas says we need to view celebrities as part of a web of enabling or disabling factors that make a politician win or lose, especially as he becomes more involved in discussions about the people he supports.

“Due to the nature of social media-mediated political engagement, we’re also seeing celebrities more engaged in conversations, and even ‘bardagulans,’ about their candidates and the issues around them,” explained You not.

These types of participations, Tupas continues, are also interconnected because they are watched live online. It then comes down to the specific or targeted demographics or weaknesses addressed by the candidates and their famous supporters.

Tupas further explains that disinformation and disinformation have also been mobilized in an organized way that can favor or work against a candidate.

In this respect, the power of celebrities alone is not enough to get people to vote for a given candidate, grassroots campaigns and an organized machinery are essential to its success.

Celebrities are citizens too

A major concern raised is that supporters receive money to attend political outings; the same goes for celebrities, but like the supporters they face, they say they are also volunteers and have not been paid to show up for rallies.

“We can assume that artists, for whatever reason, who appeared in releases did so because their contracts allowed them to,” Tupas said. “We should also consider that a lot of these artists did it because they really believed in the candidates. They are also Filipinos who are invested in the future of the country.”

However, Tupas points out that a number of celebrities did not endorse any candidate and, like those who did, took a calculated risk.

Ramirez explains this by saying that if a political candidate, an entertainer, showed support only to lose in an election, it’s bad for brand equity, credibility, and overall bad for business.

“A lot of these celebrities take advice from amateurs around them who are often biased by their political preferences and that’s why they end up in such a big mess later on,” Ramirez also said.

Support to move forward

With the campaign season officially over, many are beginning to wonder if celebrities who have expressed their outright support for a particular candidate will show the same amount in the weeks or months to come, whether they become victorious or not.

“For those on the winning side, we can expect the personalities to continue to defend and protect their elected officials,” Ramirez said.

As for those who failed, Ramirez’s personal stance is that these celebrities should “keep a low profile for now because it’s no good continuing to make noise if the end result is futile.”

Tupas meanwhile says that if these celebrities were nominated because they shared the same ideals or principles of a given candidate, it automatically follows that they will be actively involved in their cause(s), whatever whatever the final count.

“I’d like to think we’ll see this happen among those who have shown commitment and investment in candidates in recent elections, and who have publicly announced they are doing so as volunteers,” added You not.

Popularity is the key

As a country of showbiz, the deciding factor for an individual in any industry in the Philippines is their popularity, and that includes their participation in elections.

Tupas admits that elections in the Philippines were based on personality, which Ramirez echoes, as a celebrity who runs for public office has a better chance than a celebrity who endorses a political candidate.

“If you want to have the best chance of winning, it’s better to be popular or already widely known than to present yourself as nobody,” Ramirez continued, citing that engaging with professionals who can help steer your image and its brand image as a major boost. .

In this regard, Tupas says that elections are not on a level playing field, as celebrities with enormous star power have the advantage of not starting from scratch and have very high levels of awareness – this which seasoned politicians with a high name can benefit from.

Popularity, for Ramirez, is a combination of many factors such as looks, track record and appeal to the masses – for her, all that is needed to win is the CD market vote. She adds that these plans take time, years even and never overnight.

Speaking of backgrounds, Tupas says they’re important as long as they’re “perceived” as good backgrounds, and that’s how social media comes into play to fabricate stories about candidates and penetrate up to to the privacy of each person’s life.

Discussions for the future

As another election cycle comes to an end, the Philippines awaits the arrival of a new administration whose victory relied heavily on years of machinery that were boosted by the different types of celebrity power they had. in their camp.

This is something that should be taken into account not only for future elections, but also for the way we perceive “power” and the influence of a personality, especially in the Philippines.

“It’s actually more productive to talk about the power of celebrities, rather than celebrities, to move away from our traditional understanding of who celebrities are,” Tupas said.

He reiterates that politicians can wield celebrity power, and in the age of the internet, so do social media influencers and content creators who have nurtured a good following.

These individuals, these current and potential voters, are deeply invested in the personalities they follow and even idolize, as well as the content and images they represent.

The Philippines will most likely continue to revolve around show business, but if celebrities continue to champion and support individuals who align themselves with their principles for a better country for all Filipinos, then there may be hope for the positive influence they will spread.

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