Celebrity endorsements are not a new phenomenon
— in fact, they’ve been around pretty much as long as celebrities have. People in power figured out long ago that putting a familiar face to a product or service you’re trying to sell gets results, though sometimes it can have the opposite effect on said celebrity. Rat Pack crooner
Sammy Davis, Jr
became a laughing stock back in the 1970s when he appeared in a campaign for Alka-Seltzer: “Plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is.” “Plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is.” But Sammy’s far from being the last celebto sell out for the sake of a quick buck. Nobody can blame an up-and-comer for using an established brand to widen their audience. But when Hollywood A-listers and legends of music start to pop up in commercials for ice cream and underwear, it becomes clear that some celebs will just never have deep enough pockets.
for SodaStream All she did was mix some plain water with
bubbles and add a dash of flavor, yet instead of a refreshing beverage Scarlett Johansson
stirred up a media storm. “Like most actors my real job is saving the
world” The A-list beauty’s eight-year relationship with the charity Oxfam came to an ugly end when she appeared in a commercial for SodaStream against their wishes.
The humanitarian organization was unhappy that their ambassador was supporting an Israeli company that they claim operates illegally in the occupied West Bank. Oxfam said in a statement, that while they, quote, “[Respect] the independence of our ambassadors, Ms Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador. Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream,
that operate in settlements, further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian
communities that we work to support.” For her part, Johansson came out swinging
in an interview with the Observer, saying, “I was aware of that particular factory before
I signed. And it still doesn’t seem like a problem, at least not until someone comes up with a solution to the closing of that factory and leaving all those people destitute.” which is exactly what happened in February 2016 when SodaStream closed the controversial factory – leaving 500 employees jobless.
for Nespresso For over a decade George Clooney has been the face of high-brow Swiss coffee brand Nespresso, a company that manufactures dispensing machines to be used with their coffee pods. While some of the ads have been mildly amusing at best, most have been irritatingly smug, or just plain weird.
As ideas dried up, the company tapped special guests, including
Jack Black, Ian McShane and Danny Devito,
who joined the silver fox for Nespresso’s first-ever US commercial. “Nespresso?” “What else?” “Double. What else?” “Why thank you.” But his long relationship with the brand backfired
on him in 2016, when, according to the Daily Mail, the long term cost of convenient coffee
Researchers fear that as the popularity of coffee pods rises, the discarded packaging will end up in landfills, with experts predicting that the plastic and aluminum containers will take 500 years to break down. This left Clooney — who is outspoken on global warming and appeared on the very first ‘green issue’ of Vanity Fair — in a position where he’s pocketed millions at the detriment of the planet.
Talk about selling your soul.
for Emirates There’s a fine line between parodying your fame and fortune… “How are my little triplets doing?” …aaand just straight up rubbing your elite status in the faces of average Joes everywhere. Jennifer Aniston crossed that line big time with her ad campaign for Dubai-based airline Emirates.
According to Daily Mail, the Friends star was paid $5 million to become the new brand ambassador of the luxury international carrier, whose first class ticket for a round trip from New York to Dubai costs an eye-watering $25,000. The fact that a rich actress was promoting
the jet set lifestyle wasn’t necessarily the problem — it was the way that she did it
that shocked and angered viewers. The ad makes a mockery out of everyone who
doesn’t shell out $25,000 for tickets, painting economy class as a hellish experience — because
there isn’t a lounge or a shower. “There’s no shower?” “No.” “Ha ha ha ha.” “And you have no lounge?” “Ha ha ha. “Why are you laughing like that?” “Ah you’re killing me!” Well, it turns out that showcasing how much it sucks to be poor wasn’t the greatest marketing strategy in the world. As one YouTube commenter wrote, “Snobbiest ad ever.
Talk about first world 1%’er problems.”
for Etihad Airways Kidman’s ad for United Arab Emirates’ state-owned carrier Etihad Airways wasn’t quite as in-your-face about the class-gap when it comes to flying. But Kidman found herself facing backlash over a different issue: women’s rights. The actress clearly didn’t think twice when the super-rich airline came calling with a blank check, though seeing as she had been a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for women since 2006, she really ought to have done her research. “Their goal isn’t to improve on what’s been done before, but totally re-imagine it.” But as it turned out, the brand could have used some reimagining. The story caught fire when the Association of Professional Flight Attendants called for Kidman to step away from the company, claiming that bosses at Etihad have fired female employees for becoming pregnant.
Their statement read, “We urge you, on behalf of the women and girls
that you spoke of so eloquently [on International Women’s Day], not to play a part in promoting Etihad Airways, a company that imposes abusive labor practices on its female employees and whose sole owner is a government that stands against the very world that you imagine.”
for Capital One Alec Baldwin’s involvement with Capital One landed him in the hot seat, mainly because he has always claimed to be such an outspoken critic of corporate greed and champion of progressive politics. When Baldwin showed up at the Occupy Wall
Street protest in 2011 to show his support for those fighting for financial equality,
he was hounded by members of the grassroots movement We Are Change, who wouldn’t let him cross Manhattan Park without answering a few questions.
According to Daily Mail, Baldwin refused to publicly endorse Republican congressman Ron Paul, but he did tell those gathered that the Securities and Exchange Commission are, quote, “totally in the pockets of the banks,” ignoring the irony in the fact that he was currently sitting comfortably in the deep, velvety pocket of Capital One — which received $3.5 billion in the Wall Street bailout.
Baldwin was labelled a “hypocrite” and a “limousine liberal” by critics, forcing him to Tweet, “I donated all of my fee from Capital One 2 arts charities. They have been gr8 partners in my support of the arts.” “What’s in your wallet?”
for Country Life Butter John Lydon was the poster boy of the punk rock movement during the late 1970s, fronting the musically and politically influential British band The Sex Pistols under the stage name Johnny Rotten. As the years have passed, Lydon’s commitment to the punk lifestyle and what his music stood for has repeatedly come under scrutiny. Eyebrows were raised when he appeared on the UK version of reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. But it was his 2008 ad for Country Life butter was the final nail in his punk cred’s coffin. The commercial features Lydon reeling off several reasons as to why he might like Country Life butter, before dismissing them all, claiming: “I buy Country Life because it tastes the
best.” The fading star defended the commercial when he spoke to Camden New Journal about the backlash from fans, asking, “Why are they questioning me? What manual am I supposed to adopt? I’m promoting a British product which I’m very proud of.” And speaking of products celebs are into…
for Victoria’s Secret As the ultimate counterculture icon, it seems inconceivable that Bob Dylan would ever do a commercial for anything. The folk legend has been annoying fans since
the day he first switched to electric guitar back in 1965, but in 2004 he dealt his reputation
its biggest blow to date when he inexplicably appeared in Victoria’s Secret’s “Angels In
Venice” campaign. “I’m sick of love… “I wish I’d never met you.” Why a lingerie line would want to intercut shots of their models with a man old enough to be their grandfather is anybody’s guess, but Dylan got two things out of it — a pay day and some publicity for the memoir he released that year.
As a fan of the man, all you can do is point to the fact that Dylan did actually state back in ’65 that the only thing he would sell out for were ladies undergarments. Decade-spanning practical joke? Or shameless cash grab? You decide.
for Jose Cuervo Kiefer Sutherland is said to have funded his move to LA with some ad work, posing for Levi’s in the 1980s as an unknown. He has admitted to having a strained relationship with his father, actor Donald Sutherland, at the time, and sought to make his own way in the industry. But by the end of that decade everyone in Hollywood knew his name, thanks to The Lost Boys, and Young Guns.
Two-hundred-plus episodes of 24 later, Sutherland is recognized as one of the industry’s most likable tough guys, an image he doesn’t mind parodying for an easy buck. Computer maker Acer took advantage of this with their Aspire Ultrabook commercial, dressing him up like his Jack Bauer character and sending him into supermarkets on the hunt for the ingredients he needs for…cupcakes. “Where’s the icing?” “Icing?” “Icing for cupcakes.” “Oh! It’s ah.. Ah.. right over there.” Not bad, right? But while you can’t blame a young actor for posing in a pair of 501 jeans, or even a successful actor for parodying himself in a fun way, you can blame Kiefer Sutherland for shilling a product that almost ruined his life on numerous occasions.
His 2013 spot for Jose Cuervo tequila plays up the brand’s campaign to always have a story to tell. The actor is shown living the high stakes life — in between shots of liquor. Sutherland has a documented history of alcoholism and public drunkenness, making his decision to appear in ads for something that so clearly controls his life a total deal with the devil. But what does he really think about it? “Just don’t have any regrets. Cuervo.” Kendall Jenner for Pepsi Advertisers will often jump on bandwagons in an attempt to make their product seem as relevant as possible.
But Pepsi admitted that they, quote “missed the mark” with their infamous commercial starring Keeping Up With The Kardashians kid sis
. The ad shows Jenner walking off a photo shoot to join an ongoing street protest, then handing one lucky officer a cold soda — which, according to Pepsi, was, quote, “[to] project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.” But not many people saw it that way, with
advocacy groups like Color of Change firing off at Jenner on Twitter. The reality star has failed to respond to the outrage on social media, though a source close to her told Hollywood Life, “She had such high hopes for it…And now she’s terrified she will never work again or become a laughing stock.” Pepsi pulled the ad and personally apologized — to Jenner.
That’ll probably be the last time she endorses any brands for a while — oh wait — there’s Estee Lauder: “You’ve got enough goin on.”