Popular figures

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sympathizer is primarily a person or group of people who attracts the sympathy of other people or who arouses emotional affection in certain groups of people. The term popular figure but can also refer to institutions, animals, art figures refer (in the broadest sense) and articles that have enjoyed a certain notoriety and popularity.

Popular characters are the main pillars of advertising and public relations and play the central role in the emotional customer loyalty of the advertiser to a target group . The prerequisites for this are on the one hand prominence through high media presence and on the other hand significant popularity. This popularity can be general, but is often limited to certain population groups, for example teenagers, women, certain age groups, certain social classes, people with certain ideological preferences, etc.

Overview of possible popular figures


Entertainers , singers , actors , athletes (including entire sports teams) and politicians are among the personalities who are most often considered to be popular figures and are used as such in advertising .


Animals are tried, often beyond their usual behavior, to use them as sympathizers:

  • As an animal species in itself such as hedgehogs ( nature conservation ), dolphins (adventure vacation), koalas (tourism in Australia) or generally young animals, which evoke protective instincts and positive emotions in the human observer through their child-like pattern .
  • As mascots of institutions such as the polar bears Knut and Flocke (also shown here as a child), the walrus Antje , the white gorilla Copito de Nieve , or the "talking" seal Hoover . In the case of the latter three, the popularity and advertising effectiveness lay in their bizarre otherness.
  • Animal sympathizers can also be found in stories and films, e.g. For example, the dog Lassie , the orca in the Free Willy films and the horse Fury . The emotional connection to the person who is popular is created by the humanized portrayal of the animal: apparently altruistic behavior , a special relationship between the animal and a human (film) partner, mostly children, a story of suffering, etc.

Art and cartoon characters

Popular characters can be portrayed as cartoon or comic characters by emotionally appealing graphic characters . Well-known popular figures from the cartoon world are z. B. numerous Disney characters , some of which are borrowed from fairy tales or legends, or the Mainzelmännchen .


Institutions can also be popular if they promote issues (environmental protection, violence prevention and others) that the sympathizer supports.


Automobiles such as the VW Beetle , the Trabant (Trabi) or the 2CV (duck) can have such a strong emotional sympathy status that they not only represent a product advertisement, but also stand for a lifestyle and carry national advertising.

Popular in literature

Historical, fictional or literary characters from books, plays, film and television such as B. Robin Hood or Harry Potter are also referred to as a figure of sympathy or identification. Special cases are fictional people who, despite their sometimes questionable behavior, still prove to be popular because the reader / observer can emotionally identify with the entirety of this figure and what it stands for. As examples thereof may Huckleberry Finn or Dr. House serve. Figures from the world of fairy tales and legends , e.g. B. Cinderella or Heidi serve as sympathetic identification figures for children and convey morally accepted behavior.

One of the earliest mentions of the term itself can be found in 1902 in The Literary Echo in a review of the farmer's comedy “The Treasure Grave” (CG Reuling) at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin: “The completely boundless superstition stands too suddenly next to the clear common sense that the farmer in everything else shows: We cannot enjoy him as our favorite and at the same time as a fool of a clumsy trickery game. "

Popular figures and advertising

Popular people have a high level of attention because of their prominence, which, according to Georg Franck, represents a “new currency”. This measure can be determined by the number of copies , audience ratings and survey results . The use of sympathizers in advertising makes use of the halo effect : emotions that are felt for the sympathizer are also transferred to this product / concept through their association with the advertised product / concept, whereby customer loyalty is achieved; in addition, popular characters create or increase the recognition value .

In principle, any of the aforementioned types of popular figures can be used for advertising. Either existing popular figures are used or new popular figures are developed, e.g. B. Clementine for detergent advertising, whereby such "in-house developments" can bring greater popularity, z. B. Claudia Schiffer from fashion advertising.

Well-known graphic characters that were designed for advertising purposes are the Lurchi ( salamander shoes ) (shoes; target group children), the HB male (cigarettes; target group smokers) and the Sarotti-Mohr (chocolate; target group confectionery consumers). They can be regarded as the forerunners of later personal brands.

Equivalents of terms in other languages

The term “sympathizer” can cover very different areas in German .

In English there are different terms that can be used very specifically: popular figure is a positive expression for a well-known public figure ; sympathetic figure puts the emphasis on "being sympathetic" and puts the popularity back; appealing figure contains the aspect of "being interesting" and "attracting attention"; crowd-pleaser , the “darling of the masses”, can be understood positively or derogatory; Flagship species is a term for a certain animal species that is used exclusively in nature conservation.

Web links

Wiktionary: Popular  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Definition of the term sympathizer in The Free Dictionary
  2. ^ André D. Kohlhepp (diploma thesis) Association marketing using the example of the acquisition of sponsors by the women's soccer Bundesliga of the DFB (German Football Association) Hessian Administration and Economic Academy Germany (1997), p. 40 ( Die Frauen-Fußball -National team as a popular figure. Suggestions for association marketing of the DFB in the area of ​​the women's soccer Bundesliga ).
  3. In the end just a popular figure ( memento of the original from October 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 24, 2002 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.sueddeutsche.de
  4. ^ Hedgehogs as a popular figure for the nature conservation association
  5. Vacation on the Red Sea
  6. The Koala: Australia's No. 1 popular figure
  7. Christine Garbe, Maik Philipp (ed.): Harry Potter - A literary and media event in the focus of interdisciplinary research , Lit Verlag Hamburg (2006).
  8. Franziska Sick and Helmut Pfeiffer (eds.): Lies and (self-) betrayal - cultural-historical studies in the early modern period in France Verlag Königshausen & Neumann GmbH, Würzburg (2001), p. 122–124: Morally reprehensible figures as popular figures in the work by Denis Diderot .
  9. ^ The literary echo - bi-monthly publication for literary friends, editor Dr. Josef Ettlinger, E. Fleischel & Co., Berlin, 5th year (1902/03), p. 130.
  10. Franck, Georg: Economy of Attention. A blueprint. 1st edition. Carl Hanser, March 1998, ISBN 3-446-19348-0
  11. Petra Schütz: The power of brands - past and present , dissertation in economics at the University of Regensburg (2001).
  12. http://www.rm-werbung.de/?get=31
  13. Kälin Melanie (2006): "Flagship species" as a popular figure in nature and landscape protection. Diploma thesis, University of Wädenswil HSW, Wädenswil.