18 Head-Scratching Celebrity EndorsementsPosted by Katie
Celebrity endorsements can be a powerful thing, potentially raising a product's prominence and prestige in the eyes of the buying public. However, things can go wrong as well. When a star lends his or her name to a product, it becomes associated with the celebrity's legacy and body of work -- for better or worse. Conversely, a product with a questionable reputation can actually lower a star's prestige. Whatever the outcome, it's best for both sides to carefully consider the partnership before you end up with oddball endorsements like these.
Ol' Dirty Bastard, Rap Snacks Chips
The late mercurial rapper, known for his erratic behavior, incoherent monologues, numerous arrests and even more numerous aliases (including Dirt McGirt), was also the face of the sour cream and onion flavor of a snack chip called Rap Snacks. Granted, any of the varieties of Rap Snacks (currently owned by rapper/actor Lil' Romeo), which features the images of rappers from Master P to Mack 10 along with positive messages like "Stay in school," "Respect your elders" and "Stay away from guns," is pretty odd. (ODB's ironic message: Think responsibly.)
Mikhail Gorbachev, Pizza Hut
A former head of the Soviet Union and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mikhail Gorbachev switched his focus in 1997 to...pizza? This might seem like a trivial use of his fame, but as the commerical argues, the end of Communism affords people the freedom to eat mass-produced Italian food.
Runner-up: Mikhail Gorbachev, Louis Vuitton:
Pope Leo XIII, Vin Mariani Wine
The popular late 19th century French tonic Mariani, which combined wine with cocaine, was so beloved by Pope Leo XIII that he awarded it a Vatican gold medal and appeared in this ad endorsing it. The ad states, "His Holiness The Pope writes that he has fully appreciated the beneficient effects of this Tonic Wine and has forwarded to Mr. Mariani as a token of his gratitude a gold medal bearing his august effigy." Other famous drinkers of the wine -- obviously a more acceptable product to endorse in the 1800s than today -- reportedly included Thomas Edison and Queen Victoria of Great Britain.
Jimi Hendrix, Hendrix Electric Vodka
Taste was thrown out the window in 2006 when the company Electric Hendrix Spirits began selling Hendrix Electric Vodka, bearing the image of legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix, who died in 1970 by choking on his own vomit after a night of drinking and drugs. In 2009, the drink was pulled from shelves when the makers were ruled to have infringed on Hendrix's trademark, incurring a $3.2 million fine.
Donald Trump, Trump Steaks
High-profile billionaire Donald Trump has had his hand in a wide range of business ventures -- from hotels to beauty pageants to TV shows to golf courses -- but the most unorthodox might be Trump Steaks, which makes the dubious decision to market meat in close proximity to Trump's hair.
Runner-ups: Trump the Fragrance and Trump's Ice Cream Parlor.
Elvis Presley, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Elvis Presley's estate is notorious for licensing The King's image for a variety of merchandise, but one of the more unusual was the 2007 limited-edition Elvis Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which included a layer of banana creme in honor of the late singer's famed love for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches (To be truly accurate, they would've thrown in some bacon flavoring.). The Elvis cups came in three collectible wrappers: young, middle aged and an older Elvis -- noticeably plumper, thanks to all the peanut butter and banana sandwiches that contributed to his declining health before he died.
Sylvester Stallone, Stallone High-Protein Pudding
Healthy living and pudding hardly seem to go hand in hand, but actor Sylvester Stallone begs to differ, offering a high-protein pudding targeting body-builder types. The company that makes the pudding has subsequently been found guilty of stealing the idea and was ordered to pay nearly $5 million in damages to the inventor.
Paula Abdul, Ultimate Voice Coach
Paula Abdul is to singing what Jean-Claude Van Damme is to acting, so why anyone would follow her lead in learning how to sing is hard to fathom. The good news with the CD/DVD set Ultimate Voice Coach is that neither Abdul nor fellow American Idol co-host Randy Jackson do any vocal training on the set. On the other hand, maybe that's why it's been marked down from $45 to $5.98.
Fred Astaire, Dirt Devil
Beginning during the 1997 Super Bowl, a series of commercials manipulating the image of the deceased Fred Astaire to show him dancing with Dirt Devil vacuums (instead of his partner, Ginger Rogers), raised the ire of fans who thought they were in poor taste. Astaire's daughter Ava McKenzie, whose stepmother authorized use of Astaire's image, stated that she was "saddened that after his wonderful career, he was sold to the devil." Fast-forward to the 5:25 mark to see one of the ads:
Runner-up: Diet Coke ad with Elton John and undead Louis Armstrong, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney:
Steven Seagal, Lightning Bolt Energy Drink
Steven Seagal's energy drink touts itself as healthy and packed with energy, two things not usually associated with the out-of-shape, perpetually glum action star.
Runner-up: Not really an endorsement per se, but did you know that Steven Seagal sings and plays the guitar? Sadly, none of his songs revolve around shattering fibulas.
Bill Wyman, Bill Wyman Signature Metal Detector
Bill Wyman was the bassist for the Rolling Stones for 30 years, and what's more rock 'n roll than the metal detector your grandpa uses on the beach in his sandals and black tube socks?
Earl Campbell, Earl Campbell's Smoked Sausage
Who wouldn't want to eat ex-footballer Earl Campbell's smoked sausage?
Kurt Cobain, Dr. Martens Boots
In 2007, Great Britain's Fact Magazine ran a one-time ad featuring the likeness of late rock 'n roller Kurt Cobain in Heaven, wearing just a robe and a pair of Dr. Martens boots. The caption read "Dr. Martens. Forever." Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, was naturally upset, not having given permission for his likeness to be used. In response, Dr. Martens issued an apology and fired the ad agency that created the campaign. Although Cobain's image garnered the most attention, the campaign also featured the posthumous likenesses of anti-establishment rock rebels like Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious (below right).
Vincent Price, Milk
Creepy horror movie icon Vincent Price seems to be an unlikely spokesperson for wholesome milk, especially when the commercial involves children. Tasty, tasty children.
Carlos Santana, Carlos Santana Handbags and Women's Shoes
What does rocker Carlos Santana know about women's shoes and handbags? Women's underwear would be more believable; given the amount that have been fllung at him on stage, he could've just repackaged them for sale.
Joe Namath, Beautymist Pantyhose
In this iconic ad from 1974, the camera pans up a pair of long, pantyhose-clad legs to reveal...Joe Namath?!? The voiceover explains the point of the ad: "This commercial will prove to the women of America that Beautymist pantyhose can make any legs look like a million dollars." Often overlooked is the tacked-on ending shot of a woman kissing the famed quarterback, thus reaffirming his heterosexuality.
Kiss, Kiss Kasket
Rock group Kiss is known for pimping their image on everything from dolls to clocks to comic books, but the pièce de résistance has to be the Kiss Kasket, an actual coffin emblazoned with images of the band members and the words "Kiss forever". No longer available for sale, the coffin retailed for $4,700 and, as suggested by the band's official site, could alternately be used as a "giant Kiss cooler, enabling fans and their friends to enjoy ice-cold sodas and beer served directly from the ice-filled, completely waterproof Kiss Kasket."
Zombie Orville Redenbacher, Orville Redenbacher Popcorn
It's not unusual for Orville Redenbacher to appear in an ad hawking his own line of popcorn (he did so for many years), but by the time this 2007 commercial aired, he'd been dead for 12 years, and the CGI-enhanced body double that showed up in the ad looked like what you'd get if you fused Max Headroom with a corpse.
Bonus: Nelson Mandela Air Freshener
Doubt this is a legitimately endorsed product, but damn, it must smell good!