Including celebrities in endorsements and television advertisements can certainly help market a product and increase its performance dramatically. The star power of certain actors, singers, and other notable personalities can help sales skyrocket. However, sometimes poor decisions and casting the wrong celebrity can be made. Other times, the advertisement itself can become questionable for a variety of reasons, and the commercial can become a total flop. Check out some of the most questionable celebrity commercials to have aired.
Beyonce – Heat Fragrance Commercial
Beyonce released a fragrance called Heat in 2010 and subsequently appeared in a television advertisement to promote the new fragrance. The commercial features the songstress lying around her bed without any clothes on as well as strutting around in very revealing outfits. It was even deemed far too inappropriate for daytime television in the United Kingdom. The advert was not played on British television broadcasts until after 7:30 PM, so as to avoid exposing children to the commercial.
Eva Mendes – Calvin Klein Secret Obsession Commercial
Calvin Klein is one brand that is definitely known for its questionable print and television commercials. Eva Mendes appeared in both the print and TV ads for the fragrance Secret Obsession, which would eventually be banned from televisions because it was considered to be too provocative to be played on TV. When asked about her ad being banned, Mendes responded: That means the ads are totally Calvin, totally provocative and a little controversial.”
Keira Knightley – Domestic Violence Commercial
In 2009, actress Keira Knightley appeared in a very serious and gritty TV campaign that was intended to raise awareness about domestic violence as well as raise money for the Women’s Aid charity. The advertisement showed her being physically hurt repeatedly and suffering through domestic abuse. Although the ad was meant to be a powerful reminder that this is a reality for many women, many broadcasters felt the need to censor many parts of the advertisement when playing it on TV.
Madonna – Truth or Dare Fragrance Commercial
Pop star icon Madonna has ventured out of the music industry several times. She has explored acting, writing, and even released her own fragrance in 2012. It was called Truth Or Dare, and Madonna herself appeared in the television ad created in order to promote the perfume. While the singer is known for frequently pushing the envelope, that did not stop the ABC network in the United States to completely ban the ad for the perfume for daytime television broadcasting, and agreed to show the ad only after 9PM.
Ashton Kutcher – PopChips Commercial
In a 2012 ad campaign for snack brand PopChips, Ashton Kutcher was featured as several different characters, which included one character who was an Indian Bollywood producer called Raj. He was painted in brownface in order to achieve a darker look and he even adopted a fake Indian accent. Many people in the Indian-American community were outraged by Kutcher, a white man, portraying an Indian man, which led to PopChips issuing out a public apology, claiming that they did not intend to offend, but instead to amuse.
Kim Kardashian – Carl’s Jr. Commercial
Social media queen and reality personality Kim Kardashian is no stranger to controversy. In fact, nearly everything Kardashian touches is criticized. The same goes for the TV advertisement she appeared in to promote restaurant chain Carl Jr.’s new grilled chicken salad. Much like Kardashian, the restaurant chain has had its fair share of criticism for its advertisements. The Kim Kardashian commercial sparked a lot of controversy due to its potentially racy nature, as it featured Kardashian eating the salad while in her bed.
Paris Hilton – Carl’s Jr. Commercial
Paris Hilton, much like Kim Kardashian, is almost synonymous with the word controversy. Carl’s Jr. began the trend of using attractive socialites to promote their food in advertisements in 2005 with then it-girl Paris Hilton. The advertisement featured Hilton washing her car while clad only in a bikini as well as eating the burger in the bathing suit as well. The advertisement was not approved to be played on television broadcasts in New Zealand, as it was banned by the Commercial Approvals Bureau before it had a chance to be aired.
Bar Refaeli – Go Daddy Commercial
Israeli model Bar Refaeli was featured in a 2013 advertisement for Internet company GoDaddy, which was featured as one of the many highly expensive advertisements that were played during the 2013 Super Bowl. The advertisement saw Refaeli kissing actor nerdy-looking actor Jesse Heiman, in an advertisement that was called “Perfect Match,” citing the company’s ability to synthesize “sexy” and “smart.” This is why the model and actor were chosen, but the choice was criticized by many. Other people were offended by the fact that the ad focused primarily on kissing.
Alec Baldwin – Capital One Venture Card Commercial
Capital One teamed up with actor Alec Baldwin in order to create an advertisement series that would always end with their signature tagline: “what’s in your wallet?” Baldwin’s commercials were very popular, however Capital One came under fire for continuing to use Baldwin in their advertisements after he went on a Twitter-rant that many people considered to be homophobic. People were quick to criticize Baldwin for not severing ties with the actor and continuing to feature him in subsequent advertisements.
Tiger Woods – Nike Commercial
In 2010, professional golfer Tiger woods was featured in a television advertisement for sports brand giant Nike. In the ad, Woods is completely silent. The audience can only hear the voice of his father, questioning Woods, saying things like: “I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And, did you learn anything?” The reason why the advertisement was questionable was because Woods’s father passed away in 2006, so it was a bit unnerving to hear a disembodied Earl Woods speaking to his son from beyond the grave.
Uma Thurman – Schweppes Commercial
In a 2011 television advertisement for beverage company Schweppes that was aired in France, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill actress Uma Thurman portrays a woman who is lounging in a nightgown about to be interviewed by a young and nervous journalist. As he approaches her, she tells him that she enjoys Schweppes at home and even sometimes in a taxi and with strangers. The suggestive nature of the conversation has sparked some controversy, and many also stated that Thurman’s acting was not her best.
George Clooney and John Malkovich – Nespresso Commercial
American actors George Clooney and John Malkovich are featured in a European Nespresso television advertisement. The advertisement raised some eyebrows because it featured George Clooney being hit by a piano and then emerging in Heaven. There, he meets “God,” played by actor John Malkovich. Due to the sensitive nature of religious themes, the ad was highly criticized. However, the criticism was limited to Europe, as the advertisement was not aired in the United States at all.
Chris Farley and David Spade – Direct TV Commercial
In a 2009 advertisement for Direct TV, a scene from the film Tommy Boy that features David Spade along with Chris Farley. The only issue that people took with the advertisement is that Chris Farley had passed away in 1997. The advertisement featured David Spade reenacting his role superimposed into the original scene, but with a line that related to Direct TV. People were outraged and called the ad insensitive, tasteless, and said that they took advantage of the late Farley.
Brad Pitt – Chanel No. 5 Commercial
Chanel decided to change things up and hire a male face for the first time to shoot an advertisement for a fragrance. Naturally, it seemed that Brad Pitt would be a great choice for this new move. However, it seems as though creatively, the marketing team dropped the ball since many viewers of the ad called it very bizarre. In the ad, Pitt faces the screen and recites poetic lines that do not have much to do with Chanel or perfume.
Mary J Blige – Burger King
Mary J. Blige featured in a commercial for Burger King – however it was not a success. The leaked advert featured Mary J. singing about a fried chicken wrap to her own song “Don’t Mind”. The singer faced considerable criticism and backlash as many claimed she played right into the hands of stereotypes of African-Americans. Mary J. was left devastated and later apologized saying she it was never intended and she would never want to offend anyone of her own culture in such a way.
Taylor Swift – CoverGirl
It’s most girls’ dream to star in a CoverGirl commercial, however all didn’t go according to plan for Taylor Swift. Although she seemed like the perfect choice for the advert because of her natural beauty, that didn’t shine through in the ad. She faced criticism and backlash after the public argued that it had been too heavily airbrushed and gave a false reality of beauty. CoverGirl discontinued the advert and the print version was also taken down from billboards.
Tyler, The Creator – Mountain Dew
PepsiCo had to remove an online ad that featured Tyler, the Creator, who starred in a commercial for Mountain Dew. The commercial showed an old lady having to pick out a criminal from a line up of only black men. Notably, the police officers are all white. The advert faced severe criticism and backlash after many noted the obvious racism in the commercial. It was quickly taken down, but Tyler, the Creator later stated that it wouldn’t change the way he created his art.
Julia Roberts – Lancôme
The gorgeous Pretty Woman star, Julia Roberts’ starred in an advert for Lancôme but it didn’t go according to plan. The advertising watchdog were overwhelmed with complaints from the public who claimed that the star was heavily airbrushed and didn’t truly represent the Lancôme brand. Eventually the commercial was pulled and the company was accused of misrepresentation and exaggerating their products. The U.K totally banned any advertisements being shown or published in magazines and on billboards.
Jennifer Hudson – Weight Watchers
Since her days on American Idol Jennifer Hudson has come a long way. She’s acted, become a reality TV judge herself and even won an Oscar. However, her commercial attempt for WeightWatchers was met with disbelief and criticism from fans. Although her weight loss is nothing short of amazing, fans were left upset at her making weight loss appear easy. Many also found the commercials annoying and did not enjoy her repetitive signing. Oh dear, maybe next time Jennifer can do a better job!
Paris Hilton – Carl’s Jr.
Paris Hilton, heiress to a fortune and granddaughter of the founder of the Hilton Hotels has had success with many of her projects. However, sadly her commercial attempt was not a success. Paris was seen strutting around in a very tiny bikini, washing a car and eating a burger. Many saw the advert as extremely provocative and it was disliked by viewers. The ad was eventually banned and TV stations promptly stopped showing it after receiving complaints.
Shannen Doherty – Education Connection
Shannen Doherty has made millions from her acting and directing endeavors, which is why fans found it hard to believe that she starred in an Education Connection commercial. Many fans complained it was low-budget, cringeworthy and were unhappy that Shannen was claiming to receive a degree from the college. People felt it was an obvious money making scheme and were disappointed by the advert. It is also reported that figures did not increase after the commercial was released – we are less than impressed.
Jerry Seinfeld – Windows
Jerry Seinfeld was paid a whopping $10 million to star in the Windows commercials and fans were less than impressed. The adverts were extremely confusing with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, with one of the ads showing the pair in a shoe store, trying shoes on and just generally being less than funny. The whole commercial was a flop and it certainly didn’t entice very many people. Many were left questioning what on earth the commercial had to do with Windows, computers or anything technologically related at all.
Sylvester Stallone – Instone
Stallone has always been mad on fitness, so not many were shocked when he decided to bring out his own brand of supplements. He called the product Instone and even starred in his own advert for the product. The commercial was extremely strange with Stallone just preaching on how to work out properly. Fans were also disappointed as the commercial never even mentioned what the product was. Eventually, Instone collapsed and the company went out of business. Thankfully, Stallone’s acting career has been more successful.
Nicholas Cage – Sankyo Pachinko
In 2010 Nicholas Cage went to Japan and starred in commercials for Sankyo Pachinko – a Japanese game. The general reception was not favorable of Cage’s adverts – many thought they were strange, boring and found his signing absolutely awful! Cage’s piano playing was also less than impressive. Ultimately, the commercials were not so successful and seen to be very random. Since then Cage has not appeared in any more commercials for the company. Luckily, he has his acting skills to fall back.
Kendall Jenner – Pepsi Commercial
Kendall Jenner was recently featured in Pepsi’s newest commercials. Pepsi is known for having iconic celebrity advertisements, which in the past have included ads with Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. However, many people felt that Jenner’s advertisement completely missed the mark and was even called racially insensitive by many. The ad features Jenner as a model who leaves her modeling job to join in on a peaceful protest and later hands a Pepsi soda to a police officer on the sidelines.