Celebrities who bite the hand that feeds them
Sep 5th 2008 8:00AM
Updated Sep 5th 2008 12:42PM
One of the key benefits of being a celebrity in our celebrity-conscious culture is the endorsement deal. Just for being famous -- talent not required -- you can land a deal worth millions. It's an extremely simple transaction.
But of course, as A-Listers (and the occasional B-Listers) are wont to do, they screw things up. And we're not talking about celebrities who get involved in drugs or get caught in some morals violation that gets them booted out of their contracts. We're talking about simple slip-ups where the paid spokespeople are not putting the good money they're being paid where their mouths are.
Here's a number of stars who just had to ruin a good thing:
Back in January, Rachael Ray reportedly had a hissy fit when an assistant handed her a Dunkin Donuts coffee to drink between takes of a Dunkin Donuts commercial. According to a food blog, the domestic diva reportedly demanded that someone "bring me MY coffee" before continuing. All was well in with the world when someone handed her a Starbucks café. That wasn't the only Ray-Dunkin controversy of the year: in May an online advertisement was pulled after conservatives complained that the scarf she was wearing was too similar to a kaffiyeah, once popularized by late PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Back in 1986, the Beef Industry Council of the Meat Board and the Cattleman's Beef Board signed Cybil Shepherd and James Garner as celebrity spokespeople for their $30 million PR campaign to promote meat. In theory it was a great plan. But they ran into a PR nightmare when Garner underwent heart surgery (guess he like that red meat a bit too much) and Shepherd admitted that she didn't eat meat.Also see the gallery version of the full list.
You would be hard pressed to find a young star who is photographed more frequently than Paris Hilton. Besides both being a blonde tabloid fixture, she has her own line of shoes, Paris Hilton Footwear. Not that she is photographed wearing them often, which apparently no one told her is part of the idea of being a celebrity with your own shoe line. If Paris (whose shoes, like her own foot come in size 11) never bothers to wear their own brands, why should anyone else?
Last year, Sean Combs signed a deal with London-based Diageo, a beverage brand that includes Ciroc Vodka that could reportedly earn him $100 million. But while in London, according to a British tabloid, the hip-hop impresario blew some $164,000 on 17 magnums of Moet Rose, six magnums of Dom Perignon champagne and plenty of Sputnik vodka. However, Diddy should read the deal's fine-print, which could limit his Brat Pack-like lifestyle. According to a Diageo spokesperson his deal includes "the commitment to promoting responsible decision-making when it comes to drinking."
Jennifer Aniston doesn't endorse many products, so when she signed a lucrative deal to promote Glaceau Vitaminwater it became major news. So when a 7-story billboard ad appeared on Sunset Boulevard, featuring the former Friends actress and stated that, "I love the reflection of water (but what I drink is a reflection of me") there was plenty of chattering in the blogosphere. Soon after, a tabloid reported that Aniston was back to smoking Marlboro Lights – which reportedly drove Brad Pitt crazy – not exactly the lifestyle choice that Glaceau promotes.
During the 2002 World Cup, David Beckham – a long-standing deal Pepsi spokesman – caused a lot of flack when he appeared on a special edition Coke bottle (Coca-Cola was a sponsor of the English squad), which was far more interesting than the English team's performance (they lost to eventual champs Brazil in the quarter-finals). There were plenty of hard feelings between the soft drink rivals. "We're surprised [Coke] put one of the world's most famous Pepsi drinkers on the neck of a Coke bottle," quipped a Pepsi spokesperson.
When Lindsay Lohan was photographed in late 2007 carrying a pack of Ariva nicotine gum, it was reported that she has signed a five-figure endorsement deal. It seemed like perfect timing for the wild child actress, who reportedly was suffering with a cash shortage. But when she was photographed smoking while vacationing on the Italian island of Capri; Ariva denied any business dealings with Lohan.
As one of the world's most glamorous – and most photographed – women, every fashion move made by Angelina Jolie is news. So it came as some surprise when the actress-turned-activist signed an endorsement deal with conservative designer St John in 2006. "I am a working mother who has set goals to accomplish a lot in this world. I want my wardrobe to be beautiful, sexy and comfortable -- all at the same time. St. John is all of those things," Jolie said. While she wears St John's in a line of high-profile black and white print ads, she doesn't wear the designer often on the red carpet; at January's Screen Actors Guild Awards she wore a Hermes gown and then at the Cannes Film Festival, the Oscar-winner dazzled photographers in a green Max Azaria dress. Guess they're not that comfortable after all.
When Britney Spears' 2-year, $7 million dollar endorsement deal with Pepsi ended in 2003, the pop tart had yet to experience her protracted and well-documented fall from grace. In that respect, the company that claims to be the choice of a new generation was well ahead of the curve. But perhaps PepsiCo knew something that the rest of us didn't; according to one tabloid report, while attending a rehab center, when Spears could only drink soda or water, she revealed her penchant for Coca-Cola – reportedly downing two dozen cans a day.
Once upon a time Martina Hingis was an endorser for Italian sneaker maker Sergio Tacchini but after a few injury-plagued seasons in 2001 she filed a $40 million lawsuit against the company, blaming them for her damaged feet. Although the suit was dismissed by a Manhattan Supreme Court judge a year later, the damage was done: in May 2008 the company, which has outfitted kicks for tennis champs like John McEnroe and Pete Sampras, filed for bankruptcy.
Teri Hatcher was sued for $2 million by Hydroderm last year when the cosmetics company accused the Desperate Housewives star of failing to live up to her contract. Hydroderm claimed in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that Hatcher talked up CityLips lip gloss (made by Hydroderm's competitors CityLips) when she should've been spouting about them. But Hatcher left them pouting when she counter-sued and the case was settled out of court.
Oscar-winner Charlize Theron was also accused of breach of contract by Swiss timekeepers Raymond Weil, who said the South African-born actress was seen wearing – gasp! – a Dior watch! According to the lawsuit, filed in February in New York, Theron was supposed to wear only Raymond Weil watches 24/7 365. The company wanted their "substantial funds" returned.
Jessica Simpson was the face of ProActiv after signing a $3 million endorsement deal but she enraged her new corporate bosses when she attributed her glowing skin to competitors Accutane back in 2005. Don't worry; all ended well when Simpson re-upped her deal and stopped all that Accutane talk. Now, the singer-actress has nothing but praise to say about Proactiv. "I'm passionate about Proactiv because it worked for me and gave me so much confidence." Right.