Celebrities are like catnip to companies looking to get their product out to a wide
audience, so it’s no surprise that we see so many of our favorite celebs advertising a
wide range of products. When it’s done well, a celebrity endorsement can bring in
incredible revenues for a company, but when it goes wrong it does so spectacularly.
A misjudged advertising campaign can not only ruin the reputation of the company but
also the celebrity. To the average person these cocked-up campaigns are much more
entertaining, so let’s take a look at some of the worst recent celebrity endorsements.
Rio Ferdinand and the Free Spins
In 2015 former England and Manchester United soccer defender Rio Ferdinand took to
Twitter to tell his 6 million followers about an online casino. At the height of his career
Ferdinand was pulling in a weekly salary of £200,000 and was soon branded a ‘money
grabber’ for his casino endorsement.
The money that Ferdinand received from the endorsement has never been revealed,
but it is thought that it would be a fraction of his former weekly salary. Ferdinand was
slammed for being ‘irresponsible’ as a large percentage of his sizable follower base
Since this debacle, casinos and celebrity endorsements have been few and far
between – a comprehensive list featuring the latest casino bonuses is enough to attract
visitors, meaning celebrities don’t have to risk their reputation.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time that Ferdinand would be in the news for an ill-
judged commercial decision. Just last year he publicly backed Newcastle United’s
notoriously terrible chairman Mike Ashley.
It was later revealed that Ashley – who owns the Sports Direct chain – had just agreed
to stock Ferdinand’s latest leisurewear range.
Rio Ferdinand suggests that Newcastle fans should thank Mike Ashley, the man
that took the club from the brink of the Champions League to the Championship, twice.
Pepsi Lives Matter
In 2017, the Black Lives Matter campaign was in full swing in America and across the
world in response to police brutality against African-Americans. Pepsi were keen to
jump on the bandwagon and show the world just how ‘woke’ they were when they
teamed up with Kendall Jenner to make this incredibly insensitive advert.
The take home from this commercial campaign was that Kendall Jenner could solve
centuries of discord between communities by prancing over to a protest and handing
out Pepsi. Barely 6 months before the advert was released, a peaceful protester in
Baton Rouge was brutally rushed by police officers.
Unsurprisingly Kendall Jenner and Pepsi were widely criticized for this advertising
campaign. They were rightly accused of trivialising a serious issue and trying to take
advantage of it for their own gain.
Kendall Jenner and Pepsi took a bashing online after this advert was released.
Harry Redknapp’s Baking Efforts
In 2018 former soccer manager Harry Redknapp stole the British public’s heart when
he was crowned King of the Jungle in reality TV show I’m a celebrity get me out of
here! Throughout the show Redknapp repeatedly mentioned his love for Jam Roly
Poly’s whenever he was hungry (which was all the time).
Six months after his appearance on the show Redknapp featured in an advert for website
building company GoDaddy. In the ad the King of the Jungle claimed that Go Daddy
had helped him set up his very own Jam Roly Poly business…
It didn’t really make a sense. A soccer manager, talking about Jam Roly Poly’s to
advertise a website building company, it was just weird. But it isn’t the first time that
Harry Redknapp has done something foolish for a couple of quid, like opening a bank
account for his dog in Monaco…
Jackie Chan’s Budget Clothes
Jackie Chan is one of the world’s most famous actors after displaying his Kung Fu
skills in a number of blockbuster films. A man with his status and reputation would surely have been a good choice for a ‘manly, full-throttle’ product, not a defunct British
If you’re unfamiliar with Woolworths, it was once a staple of the British high-street best
known for selling cheap sweets, discounted VHS (later DVDs) and rubbish clothes. In
this bizarre endorsement Jackie Chan and a group of freakishly scary puppets run
around Woolworths looking for clothes to buy for an upcoming party.
At no point in Woolworths history in Britain was it ever a ‘go-to’ place for fashion and
clothes. In fact, telling someone that you purchased clothes from the bargain store
would be akin to social suicide.
That didn’t seem to bother Jackie Chan though, who was obviously unaware of the
strange reputation that Woolworths had in the UK. Unfortunately the advertising
campaign wasn’t a major success for the British chain as it ceased trading just over a
decade after this bizarre advert.
If you’re spending your marketing budget on this, what do you expect?
Jackie Chan loves appearing in blockbuster action movies and shopping at Woolworths apparently.