getty images collage
getty images collage

9 Bizarre Celebrity Product Endorsements

getty images collage
getty images collage

We know it's hard to believe, but some celebrities will do anything for a buck. That sometimes means signing on to promote a product that has absolutely nothing to do with their public personas. Here are nine examples of especially bizarre product endorsements. 

1. Joe Namath // Beautymist Pantyhose

In 1974, Super Bowl MVP and New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath shaved his legs and put on Hanes Beautymist pantyhose for a national commercial. “Now, I don’t wear pantyhose," Broadway Joe said in the TV spot. “But if Beautymist can make my legs look good, imagine what they’ll do for yours.” The commercial was considered risqué and controversial at the time, but sales of Beautymist pantyhose skyrocketed, and Namath became an in-demand spokesman. 

In 1999, Namath told Newsweek he was game from the moment he saw the concept. "They came with ad storyboards to our office, and I got a laugh out of it," he recalled. "When they get up to me, I'm wearing green shorts and a football jersey … I just said, 'Let's go with our gut feeling. It's humor. I can handle the heat.' And it was a lot of fun, though when I looked at it, my stomach turned. I didn't like anything about the way I looked.”

2. Bob Dylan // Victoria's Secret

In 2004, viewers were bewildered when a Victoria's Secret commercial featuring rock icon Bob Dylan aired during American Idol. The lingerie company had already used Dylan's music in previous ads, and one day, CEO Les Wexner asked him if he'd like to be in a commercial himself. Funny enough, in a 1965 interview, Dylan was asked what might make him sell out. His reply: "Ladies' undergarments."

3. Muhammad Ali // d-Conn Roach Traps   

In the late '70s and early '80s, at the height of his popularity as boxing's Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali agreed to endorse d-Conn Roach Traps. He was featured in television commercials, in print ads (which featured the line "I think they are beautiful. ‘Specially since my picture is on the box!") and on the boxes of traps themselves.    

5. and 6. Penelope and Monica Cruz, Helen Mirren // Nintendo

In 2012, Penelope Cruz and younger sister Monica appeared in a commercial for New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS XL. The advertisement featured some good old-fashioned sibling rivalry as the actresses raced through the video game as Mario and Luigi. Penelope lost, and had to keep up her end of the bet by cosplaying as the mustachioed Mario. 

Helen Mirren appeared in a series of commercials for the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus in 2010. "Nintendo insisted they wanted Helen and no one else," a friend of Mirren's told MSN News. "They wanted an older, more attractive woman to show that the Wii isn't just for children." 

7. Snoop Dogg // Norton Antivirus

In 2010, cybersecurity company Norton Antivirus launched a hip new ad campaign called “Hack Is Wack” featuring Snoop Dogg. Snoop called on his fans to film themselves rapping about hacking, identity theft, computer viruses, and cybersecurity. All videos were available on the Hack is Wack website before Norton Antivirus took it down later that year. The winner of the contest got the chance to meet Snoop Dogg’s management team—but not the rapper himself—and the opportunity to have Snoop Dogg rap on their song. Although the contest and marketing campaign was a complete flop, about 200 videos were submitted for consideration. 

8. Mikhail Gorbachev // Pizza Hut

In 1997, Mikhail Gorbachev appeared in an internationally televised commercial for Pizza Hut. The TV spot featured the Soviet Union's former president enjoying a pizza with his then-10-year-old granddaughter Anastasia, while a dining room full of Russian Pizza Hut patrons talked about the president's legacy. The statesman agreed to appear in the spot to help fund his Gorbachev Foundation, an international research organization. 

But why Pizza Hut? Apparently Gorbachev believes in the power of pizza to bring people together. "It's an important part of life," he wrote in a statement. "It's not only consumption, it's also socializing. If I didn't see that it was beneficial for people, I wouldn't have agreed to it."  

9. Brad Pitt // Chanel No. 5

In 2012, Brad Pitt had people all over the world scratching their heads after he appeared in a strange commercial, directed by British filmmaker Joe Wright, for the women's fragrance Chanel No. 5. “No. 5 is the most iconic fragrance of our time, and Brad Pitt is the most iconic actor of our time,” Chanel CEO Maureen Chiquet explained to Vanity Fair. “Women in every culture love No 5. No matter where you are, No. 5 is there.” 

The commercial sparked a ton of Internet parodies and memes, but nothing seemed to faze Pitt, who defended the TV spot. "I've been overseas, so I've been blissfully protected [from the backlash]," he told Access Hollywood. "I haven't [seen the parodies], but I say absolutely fair play, fair play. I kind of liked it … I respect what they do. They do some really quality things."

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)
How Frozen Peas Made Orson Welles Lose It
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)

Orson Welles would have turned 103 years old today. While the talented actor/director/writer leaves behind a staggering body of work—including Citizen Kane, long regarded as the best film of all time—the YouTube generation may know him best for what happened when a couple of voiceover directors decided to challenge him while recording an ad for Findus frozen foods in 1970.

The tempestuous Welles is having none of it. You’d do yourself a favor to listen to the whole thing, but here are some choice excerpts.

After he was asked for one more take from the audio engineer:

"Look, I’m not used to having more than one person in there. One more word out of you and you go! Is that clear? I take directions from one person, under protest … Who the hell are you, anyway?"

After it was explained to him that the second take was requested because of a “slight gonk”:

"What is a 'gonk'? Do you mind telling me what that is?"

After the director asks him to emphasize the “in” while saying “In July”:

"Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry. There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with 'in' and emphasize it. … That's just stupid. 'In July?' I'd love to know how you emphasize 'in' in 'in July.' Impossible! Meaningless!"

When the session moved from frozen peas to ads for fish fingers and beef burgers, the now-sheepish directors attempt to stammer out some instructions. Welles's reply:

"You are such pests! ... In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?"

Why would the legendary director agree to shill for a frozen food company in the first place? According to author Josh Karp, whose book Orson Welles’s Last Movie chronicles the director’s odyssey to make a “comeback” film in the 1970s, Welles acknowledged the ad spots were mercenary in nature: He could demand upwards of $15,000 a day for sessions, which he could use, in part, to fund his feature projects.

“Why he dressed down the man, I can't say for sure,” Karp says. “But I know that he was a perfectionist and didn't suffer fools, in some cases to the extreme. He used to take a great interest in the ads he made, even when they weren't of his creation.”

The Findus session was leaked decades ago, popping up on radio and in private collections before hitting YouTube. Voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche, who voiced the erudite Brain in Pinky and the Brain, based the character on Welles and would recite his rant whenever he got the chance.

Welles died in 1985 at the age of 70 from a heart attack, his last film unfinished. While some saw the pea endorsement as beneath his formidable talents, he was actually ahead of the curve: By the 1980s, many A-list stars were supplementing their income with advertising or voiceover work.

“He was a brilliant, funny guy,” Karp says. “There's a good chance he'd think the pea commercial was hilarious.” If not, he’d obviously have no problem saying as much.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
iStock
iStock

If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios