It may have come a little late for Tiger Woods, who found many of his endorsement deals dropped like a ton of bricks amid the never-ending revelations of his countless infidelities, but a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll survey found three-quarters of Americans (74%) say when a celebrity endorser gets involved in a scandal, it doesn't impact the way they feel about the brand or brands they endorse. Just over one in five (22%) say they feel worse about the endorsed brands.
But the golf great is just one of many spokespeople who was summarily dumped for embarrassing the brands they were paid handsomely to promote. Continue reading to see other, surprising -- sometimes shocking -- circumstances that led to similar contract terminations.
23-year-old swimming star Michael Phelps apologized for his "regrettable" behavior and "bad judgment" after he was photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe, but Kelloggs decided to drop its lucrative endorsement deal with the Olympic gold medalist anyway.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, O.J. Simpson was the classic all-American football player. Hertz car rental service began to air ads starring Simpson in 1975, hoping to capitalize on his natural charm and charisma. After reports of domestic abuse surfaced in 1992, however, the relationship between Hertz and the charming Simpson was quickly terminated.
Chanel is the epitome of class, and has been for nearly 100 years. So in 2005, when model Kate Moss was filmed allegedly snorting cocaine, she was dropped as the face of the label. Burberry and H&M also quickly dropped campaigns starring the supermodel. Maybe it wasn't the best idea to hire a model famous for inspiring the phrase "heroin chic" in the first place.
If you're receiving loads of cash for endorsing a company, it's probably not a great idea to sue that company. Case in point: Martina Hingis. Tennis player Hingis was a celebrity spokesperson for an Italian sneaker and tennis-gear company, Tacchini. Until she sued them, that is, claiming their gear was responsible for several injuries. Needless to say, Hingis did not represent the company much longer.
Most people would say Michael Vick lost his superstar status when charged with animal cruelty, but in fact, his star began to dim even before reports of dogfighting surfaced. Following several bad-boy incidents, such as a middle finger salute to Falcons fans and a failed drug test, Vick's contracts with companies like Nike and Coca-Cola were not renewed. And the animal cruelty conviction certainly didn't help.
Throughout her career Madonna has been famous for stirring things up. Her "Like a Prayer" music video was no exception. The video, which aired in 1989, showed the singer getting physical with a saint and developing stigmata. Pepsi, who had just signed a $5 million deal with Madonna, was not pleased. The company quickly dropped commercials starring the singer, and canceled all of her future appearances.
Kobe Bryant was a fan favorite when he first started playing basketball for the Lakers. Winning the 1997 Slam-Dunk Contest only solidified his high-flying reputation. At the top of his game, Bryant represented a number of brands, from McDonald's to Nike. His star began to fall, however, after he was arrested on rape charges in 2003. Bryant was dropped soon after the arrest, from campaigns for Nutella and McDonald's.
Rap lyrics have long been known to contain controversial material, and Ludacris' music is no exception. In 2002, Bill O'Reilly claimed that the rapper's lyrics glamorize "life of guns, violence, drugs and disrespect of women," and urged people to boycott Pepsi products as long as Ludacris was the spokesperson. Pepsi quickly dropped its deal with the rapper.
If you're a celebrity representing a brand of alcohol, getting arrested for drunk driving is probably not a good idea. You can thank Bruce Willis for that lesson. In 1987, the actor was also arrested for disturbing the peace and assaulting a police officer during a party at his home. The charges were later dropped and so was Willis -- as spokesman for Seagram's.
'Dell Dude' Ben Curtis
Ever wonder what happened to the guy from those "Dude, you're getting a Dell!" commercials? The super-excited Dell Dude, also known as Ben, was busted for attempting to buy a bag of marijuana in New York City. The bag was small, and Ben escaped any major charges. It was not small enough, however, for Dell to ignore. Ben was soon dropped from the campaign.
If you're already a controversial rap star, a sexually explicit dance with a fifteen-year-old probably won't help clean up your image. Take Akon, for example. In 2007, after video footage of him dancing suggestively with an underage girl during one of his concerts made the internet rounds, the rapper was quickly dropped from his Verizon campaign. Maybe next time he'll dance with someone his own age.
In 1988, Eric Clapton's relationship with Anheuser-Busch became a bit awkward when it was revealed that he was battling alcoholism. The rock star admitted to Rolling Stone magazine that he was facing a drinking problem while filming the commercial. By the time it was aired, Clapton was in rehab. The beer company quickly determined that he was not the best role model, and their relationship was terminated.
The Olsen Twins
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been in the spotlight since the ripe old age of 9 months, and with superstardom comes a fair bit of controversy. The twins' "Got Milk?" ad was dropped after Mary-Kate entered rehab for a "health-related issue" (reportedly an eating disorder). It seems the "Got Milk?" folks did not believe Mary-Kate was an appropriate role model for young girls while supposedly battling anorexia. Go figure.
Comedians are known for making controversial statements, but even the funniest comic can go too far. Take Whoopi Goldberg, for instance. After a double-entendre filled speech about President Bush, the comedian found herself out of a job. Slim-Fast decided not to air Goldberg's commercial, citing the fact that her tirade "offended some consumers." Goldberg did not apologize, instead stating that "just because I'm no longer in those spots, it doesn't mean I will stop talking."
The Beef Industry Council hoped to drum up some publicity by casting celebrities in their commercials. However, after spokesman James Garner had quadruple-bypass surgery (presumably thanks to artery-clogging burgers and steaks) and spokeswoman Cybill Shepard let it slip that she does not eat meat, the Council decided to cast ordinary, non-famous meat-eaters in their commercials.
Top celebrity spokesperson fiascos