While discussing new blog topics at the AP headquarters, we thought of a great new series called Ethical Celebrity Profiles. We realize that many actors, musicians, writers, and other famous people are involved in amazing ethical campaigns. They may be famous for their art or money, but some in the spotlight use their fame for good. Since we know of quite a few famous do-gooders, we thought we would feature a few and our first is Coldplay‘s leading man: Chris Martin.

To tell the truth, my interest in Chris Martin had little to do with ethics and everything to do with music. When Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes hit the scene in 2000, they exploded to international fame, going Platinum. This Alternative Rock band made their mark on the US and international scene with their hits Yellow and Trouble and are currently creating their fifth studio album. Since I first heard their music, I have admired Chris Martin, although once I learned more about him my adoration increased tenfold. For not only was he a gifted musical artist and rockstar, but he was increasingly involved in the Fair Trade Movement.

Chris Martin is likely Fair Trade’s best friend, if not its most famous friend. Even though the Fair Trade Movement is growing, it lacks celebrity endorsements in the same way that the Green and Animal Rights Movements have been able to gain. It would only make sense that the first real celebrity Fair Trade spokesperson would hail from the UK, where the movement is incredibly strong. That being said, Martin has been a huge supporter of Fair Trade. Often on stage, he wears an equal sign on his hands, has Fair Trade messages on his piano, and even speaks about the cause during performances.  However small this may seem, it is bringing worldwide attention to a global issue.  Fans of Martin and Coldplay are being introduced to what is likely a new concept for them.

On top of his subtle and not so subtle concert endorsements, he is also heavily involved with Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign. He himself has even traveled to countries like Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico to learn about working conditions and spread the Fair Trade message. He’s also made videos, gathered signatures at shows, and attended international Fair Trade conferences. Some people have called him the Bono of Fair Trade, to which he believes himself to be a “third-rate Bono” and for him, his only cause is Fair Trade. Coldplay first became involved in Fair Trade in 2002,  when Oxfam approached them. At the time, Martin hadn’t any idea what Fair Trade was and what the issues were at hand.  Oxfam sent the band on a trip and their eyes were immediately opened. Martin said this of learning the issues of trade:

But you go on a trip and learn how the importing and exporting of goods around the world works, and you realize it’s a huge crisis. We’ve now seen, firsthand, the problems caused by America dumping rice on Mexico, or Haiti not being allowed to export its agricultural products.”

Since 2002, Martin and his band have worked closely with Oxfam, campaigning during concerts and on their own time as well as their spokesperson, which includes this inspiring video below:

For the Fair Trade Movement, Chris Martin and Coldplay are making waves. They are bringing a fringe cause into the limelight and spreading the message to the mainstream. It is inspiring to see celebrities use their fame for the better and hopefully more of the rich and famous will begin spreading the Fair Trade message. But until then, we have Chris Martin as our Fair Trade front man.  And we are happy to have him!

-Gina Williams

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