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The term prominence (from Latin : prominentia  = the outstanding; from pro minere ) is mostly used in everyday life to denote the entirety of outstanding personalities , but can also neutrally mean the extent of individual public awareness acquired, as always, and then not related only to people, but also to places, for example. The word has only come into use in German since the beginning of the 20th century and represents an equivalent to the literally synonymous term eminence , which is traditionally limited to addressing high Catholic dignitaries.

As celebrities or colloquial celebrities [ ˈpr Prommɪs ], celebrities or VIPs (English abbreviation for V ery I mportant P erson) are primarily those people who are known for their public appearances. Often celebrities are actors , musicians and other entertainers who are widely reported in the press . Even politicians or athletes may be prominent. In more recent organizational theory and management research , it is assumed that CEOs of large companies also achieve wide public awareness. In addition to individual celebrities, collective celebrity is now also being researched by assuming that entire companies can become prominent.

Legal, right to privacy

Public person is a legal term in German, Austrian and Swiss civil law that is used in the case law on various laws to delimit the right to privacy from public reporting by the media. Comparable is the " person of contemporary history " who z. B. is mentioned in the German Art Copyright Act and in the Stasi Documentation Act . (See also paparazzo ).

Inflationary use

Pseudo-celebrities or (based on B-Movie ) B-celebrities - in Switzerland based on the Cervelat also Cervelat celebrities -  are counted in everyday language as people who have been caused by public scandals , spectacular television appearances or other events - often only for short time - causing headline-grabbing attention without gaining any prestige . They are hardly known internationally, but are only known in special circles or through individual events or programs. Lesser known people who are more likely to attract attention because of a title of nobility or through affairs with celebrities are also counted as B celebrities .

TV formats like Germany is looking for the superstar , Big Brother , I am a star - get me out of here! or scandals exaggerated by the media generate such a high number of allegedly prominent people that there is increasing talk of "C-celebrities", "D-celebrities" to "Z-celebrities", i.e. people whose celebrities are perceived as even more fast-moving and insignificant is called that of the so-called B celebrities. Classical activities or characteristics that could establish real celebrities are hardly recognizable here, never existed, or they were long ago, which is especially true for the candidates for Ich bin ein Star - Get me out of here! is often the case.


The characteristics of "celebrities" are often beauty and sportiness (physical strength), which distinguishes them from the otherwise common modern characteristics of the social class (income, professional prestige, education), but not from prehistoric stratification characteristics. They are often marginalized in studies of social structure .


Some celebrities do, among other things, product advertising , advertise for fundraising campaigns , in election campaigns or take part in looking after the troops .

For the celebrity, this can be beneficial:

  • Corresponding contracts are often endowed with money. Advertising contracts can also become the main source of income.
  • Commitment to (supposedly) charitable projects has a positive effect on the image of the celebrity, especially if this is done on a voluntary basis .
  • People who used to be better known can bring themselves back to mind.
  • Occasionally, people only gain prominence through such actions.

It can also have disadvantages:

  • The celebrity may become dependent on related income.
  • A negative image of the celebrity can be transferred to products, organizations and promotions. To prevent this, contracts are terminated, income is lost, and the celebrity can disappear from view.
  • A negative image of a product, an organization or a campaign can be transferred to the celebrity.
  • Free riders use the familiarity and image of celebrities, e.g. B. by advertising without their consent, for example with their picture.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Prominence  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: prominent  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Linguistically related to the Latin mentum chin and mons mountain
  2. ... like the German equivalent of Highness to the High Nobility , from which the prince-bishops once came.
  3. A well-known example is the professional golfer Tiger Woods . He lost some high- value advertising deals after details from his private life became public (see Tigergate )
  4. Example: the Bundesliga soccer coach Jürgen Klopp stopped his advertising activities for ERGO Insurance after the press reported in 2011 that this company had organized at least one sex party for particularly successful salespeople

Individual evidence

  1. Boorstin, DJ (1961): The image: A guide to pseudo-events in America, New York, p. 61.
  2. ^ Philipp Hermanns: Organizational Hubris - Rise and Fall of a Celebrity Firm using the example of CargoLifter AG. Kölner Wissenschaftsverlag, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-942720-33-5 , p. 61 ff.
  3. Headline "C- to Z-Celebrities" for Celebrity Big Brother 2013