Craziest Celebrity Endorsements
While the paychecks in Hollywood are undoubtedly gigantic, the truth is that the cost of the celebrity lifestyle is rising rapidly. It’s not enough for celebs to shoot a blockbuster movie, TV show, or music video and go home. Now, celebrities must be constantly engaged in a cycle of promotional activity in service to the massive studios that bankroll their A-list lifestyle.
In order to make more liquid cash and diversify their portfolio, many celebs are turning to endorsements. Whether it’s appearing in a TV ad or just subtly shilling for a service on social media, celebrities have embraced product endorsements as an additional source of revenue. Some make sense, but others are clearly just in it for the money or need to hire a better agent.
Here are some of the craziest products that have been endorsed by celebrities.
Rap Snacks – Various
One of the strangest companies that managed to rope in not just one but a whole cabal of celebrities to endorse their products is Rap Snacks. Rap Snacks was a snack company whose flavors were all associated with different rappers. Yung Joc, Migos, and Fetty Wap were just a few of the mid-level rappers who hitched their star to the Rap Snacks bandwagon.
Rap Snacks was founded in 1994 by an entrepreneur named James Lindsay. Although Lindsay built a profitable business, his small company eventually hit a wall because they couldn’t afford to sell larger amounts of product. Also, they were charging the same amount for much smaller bags compared to multi-national chip companies like Frito-Lay and Humpty-Dumpty.
Polaroid – Lady Gaga
Whether she’s recording, acting, or even just posing on the red carpet in a dress made of meat, Lady Gaga knows how to sell herself as a brand. She doesn’t conform to popular style, she invents it. Even though she’s got her own creative team dedicated to her style and looks called the Haus of Gaga, Mother Monster sometimes collaborates with other brands to questionable results.
One of the most well-known celebrity endorsements of the last 10 years definitely has to be Lady Gaga’s collaboration with Polaroid. In 2010, owners of the Polaroid brand announced a multi-year “strategic partnership” with the singer. Gaga’s most memorable contribution to the Polaroid line was her GL20 Camera Glasses, which went to market with limited success.
Charmin – Kim Kardashian
Family-friendly brand Charmin used to rely on a family of cuddly animated bears to sell their product. That was until 2010. Charmin recruited reality TV royalty Kim Kardashian to serve as a spokesperson for their newest publicity campaign. This campaign saw a set of 15 bathroom stalls installed in bustling Times Square during the holiday rush. Kardashian was on hand to cut the ribbon to the sparkling new restrooms, which were installed near that famous square on December 1, 2010.
At the time, it looked like this campaign was as much publicity as Kardashian could manage. This was in the early years of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, well before her famous marriage to Kanye West.
ICDC College – Lil’ Romeo
With tuition costs rising higher than ever, it’s understandable why some students would want to stay home and attend college online rather than shelling out thousands of dollars a semester for on-campus tuition and living costs.
ICDC College is one of the thousands of online colleges operating in the United States that offer Associate Degrees. Plus, they are clearly in the market for new students because they went all-out with their publicity budget and hired former pint-size rapper Lil’ Romeo as a spokesman in 2013. Although it sounds like he was speaking from the heart, the commercial was awkward and shows that he’s a much better rapper than he is a public speaker.
Pringles – Brad Pitt
Even though Brad Pitt has more recently starred in supermodel-laden commercials for Acura and Heineken, a real student of advertising would remember his ill-advised stint as just one of a few hot guys in a Pringles commercial in the ‘90s.
In the commercial, a tanned and shirtless Pitt is stranded with a few friends when their convertible suddenly starts smoking. The hapless guys — who are rolling around their car in a way that’s eerily similar to the gas station scene in Zoolander — are stranded with no gas or chips left. Well until a car of hot girls rolls up beside them, chips in hand.
The commercial is so ‘90s it hurts.
Facial Fitness Pao – Cristiano Ronaldo
North Americans often have a hard time understanding the ethos behind Japanese TV commercials. While we can’t really comprehend the marketing behind them, the bouncy music and cheesy grins are infectious.
One of the biggest celebrities to rep a Japanese product is soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the newest face — or, more accurately, mouth — of Facial Fitness Pao. Facial Fitness Pao is a fitness gadget that fits in your mouth and is reported to give you a younger-looking smile. Although it looks ridiculous and the claims that it works for 94 percent of people seem dubious at best, it’s gotten a lot of buzz because of the Ronaldo ad campaign.
Hot Pockets – Snoop Dogg
The rise of legal recreational marijuana across North America has been slow, but advertisers have been quick to hop on the bandwagon. One of the companies that is making the most out of their connection to stoners is Hot Pockets. The company seems proud to acknowledge that their products are disproportionately consumed by people under the influence.
Their most popular spokesman to date is Snoop Dogg. Snoop stars in two advertisements, both based on popular songs including “Drop It Like It’s Hot” — changed to “Pocket Like It’s Hot” for the ad. The second ad takes the form of a bizarre and wonderful four-minute music video featuring Snoop, Kate Upton, and Larry King.
Honey Nut Cheerios – Nelly
Another rapper who recently jumped into the food business is Nelly, who shot a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios in 2013. In the ad, he gives the brand’s popular bee mascot a makeover, autotunes his voice, and encourages him to trade in his former catchphrase for a new one inspired by his classic song “Must Be the Money”.
Both the cereal and the singer are peak millennial nostalgia, so it makes sense that General Mills would tap the rapper to get involved in a new ad campaign.
Sour Patch Kid – Method Man
Another sentient cartoon spokesman that got a recent rap upgrade is the little Sour Patch figures.
The Sour Patch Kids appeared alongside Method Man in a TV spot in 2011. In the ad, Method Man rapped about the fact that he can’t seem to get away from sentient Sour Patch candies. The candies populated his house ever since one of his crew spilled a bag all over his living room.
The ad was for a new game called World Gone Sour. In the game, players are shrunk down to candy size and have to battle both candy and humans on their quest to victory.
PopChips – Ashton Kutcher
One of the most dubious and ill-advised celebrity advertisements was the Ashton Kutcher PopChips TV spot that aired in 2012.
In the ad, Kutcher plays a variety of characters who are all looking for the most delicious thing in the world. Unfortunately, one of the characters was a Bollywood producer named Raj, who Kutcher played with thick brown makeup. The public outcry was so intense that the ad was pulled from the air.
Fortunately, Kutcher’s career didn’t suffer as a result. However, it’s likely that he thought a bit more seriously about his endorsements after the resulting public scrutiny.
Heinz Ketchup – Matt LeBlanc
Another ad that screams “early ‘90s” is the Heinz Ketchup campaign that began in 1987 starring Matt LeBlanc. At the time, LeBlanc wasn’t even a celebrity as the ad was his first major role in any form of media.
The ad featured a young, tousled LeBlanc coolly tossing a ketchup bottle in the air. He would then pose it open over the ledge of a building while he jauntily made his way downstairs to buy a hotdog. The payoff of the ad involved LeBlanc hiding the hotdog behind his back to catch the perfect splash of ketchup from the rooftop bottle, then whipping it out from behind his back and taking a big bite.