Bob Geldof
Sir Bob Geldof addresses the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne in June 2014. Getty

Celebrities who promote charities fail to raise awareness of the cause but succeed at making themselves more popular, a new study has revealed.

Researchers asked 2,000 British people to link a celebrity with a list of seven well-known charities and organisations they had worked for, including Amnesty Internation, Save the Children and Action Aid.

But more than two-thirds of those surveyed could not "match up" the famous person to the charity they had helped promote.

Instead of being influenced by a celebrity's presence on a campaign, "most people supported the charities that they supported because of personal connections in their lives and families which made these causes important, not because of the celebrities", said study co-authors Professor Dan Brockington of the University of Manchester and Professor Spencer Henson of the University of Sussex.

"Our survey found that while awareness of major NGOs' (aid organisations) brands was high, awareness of celebrity advocates for those brands was low", the study, which is published today in the International Journal of Cultural Studies, reads.

The authors are careful to note that they do not suggest stars support charities for the purpose of self-promotion, but that this is the unintended outcome of their work.

"Regardless of what celebrities may want in terms of publicity – and the interviews suggest that many would seek to maximise the attentions given to their cause and not to them – it is clear that the celebrity can often do better out of this attention that their causes."

A similar poll in June 2012 of 2,842 people in the UK found that half of respondents took no notice of celebrities in their charity promotion messages and a further 14% were even put off by it.