Celebrity endorsements are one of the most effective and memorable advertising tactics. Whether they bring a forgotten celebrity back into the spotlight or showcase one of our current favorites, there is no denying that when celebs talk, we listen. While a coveted beauty endorsement is the norm in Hollywood, some of these endorsements, to quote the famous Ray Charles Pepsi campaign, “Make you go uh-huh.”
Rock Has to Do “Butter” Than That
Like punk rocker Johnny Rotten, who was once a paid spokesperson for Country Life Butter in his native UK, the Prince of Darkness picked up the title of Prince of Spreadable Butter Substitute in 2006. Following in the illustrious career footsteps of Fabio and blazing a trail for rock ‘n roll butter enthusiasts everywhere, Ozzy Osbourne became the pitchman for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Truth be told, it was the audience who couldn’t believe what they were watching.
Won’t Somebody Think of the Drunken Elephants?
In 2007, socialite Paris Hilton decided to use her notoriety and baby voice for good. With all of the war, famine and disease in the world, there was certainly no shortage of organizations to which Paris could lend her infamous name. So, what did she choose? Always the animal lover, Paris chose to speak out against binge-drinking elephants in northeast India.
Before you judge, it should be mentioned that it isn’t uncommon for elephants in this region to drink intoxicating brews made of fermented rice or fruit and go on drunken rampages. These rampages have resulted in the loss of both elephant and human lives and have seen a recent upturn in frequency. Sangeeta Goswami, head of People for Animals, went so far as to say, "I am indeed happy Hilton has taken note of…wild elephants in northeast India going berserk after drinking homemade rice beer and getting killed." In fact, just weeks before Paris endorsed elephant sobriety, four elephants actually electrocuted themselves on one such binge. She might not be winning a World Conservation Award anytime soon, but let’s face it, every little bit helps.
And the Oscar Goes to…The Ice Cream Man?
Winning an Academy Award might earn you respect and the admiration of your peers, but it doesn’t necessarily earn you cash. Actor Benicio Del Toro won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and the hearts of women everywhere for his portrayal of Javier Rodríguez in 2000’s Traffic. Del Toro continued to garner critical praise for his performances in gritty, hard-hitting films like 2003’s 21 Grams and 2008’s Che, so it seemed slightly curious when he chose the role of ice cream pitchman as his next professional endeavor. In 2010, Del Toro took to the small screen to hawk Magnum Gold ice cream bars. Once you look back at the history of Oscar winners and commercial endorsements, however, his decision seems a little less unusual.
Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie and Kate Winslet are all proud purveyors of both beauty and fashion houses while Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro and Kathy Bates have hawked Pepsi, American Express and Direct TV, respectively. Even George Clooney, multi-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner, and arguably the biggest star in the world, is a pitchman for Nespresso Coffee in the UK. One such commercial even co-stars fellow Oscar-winner John Malkovich.
Whether it’s Bob Dylan strutting down the runway for Victoria’s Secret or Betty White extolling the virtues of Snickers, celebrity endorsements are a huge part of pop culture. It’s at once confusing and entertaining, but most of all, it’s here to stay.