In their quest to generate more sales, many brands turn to big celebrities to act as brand ambassadors for their products. Going the route of famous endorser is risky enough, but getting the right famous person to play the part can make or break the brand’s sales generating efforts.
Sometimes, it’s not worth it as some endorsements bomb and cause the company a big loss of revenue. This can happen for various reasons. A not-too-well-known brand that gets someone who’s too famous can result in the star overshadowing the brand. As consumers, we’ll know the ads because of the famous face, but we tend to forget the brand behind it. Other times, the company mistakenly chooses the wrong celebrity, whose image is not aligned with the brand’s. And last but not least, there are those celebs who don’t hold up their end of the contract, so the whole fiasco gets dragged into court.
Whatever the reason, getting a celebrity endorser is not always the best way to market a brand because if the deal doesn’t convert to sales, it becomes a total waste of money, time, and effort.
Charlize Theron for Raymond Weil
Swiss luxury watch brand Raymond Weil chose Charlize Theron as the brand’s ambassador for two years, stipulating that Theron had to be seen wearing no other brand of watches than the Raymond Weil brand. However, Theron violated her contract because she was seen wearing a watch by Christian Dior, whose perfume brand she was also endorsing. Raymond Weil filed a lawsuit in 2008, but the case was promptly settled out of court.
Katy Perry for British Hair-Care Company’s Good Hair Day
For $4.5 million, Katy Perry signed a contract to endorse British Hair-Car Company’s Good Hair Day product for two years. She claimed there was an oral agreement to extend the contract for another two years, but the company allegedly backed out. Executives said that Perry’s appeal in Europe had significantly declined and that her endorsement was hurting the brand’s sales. The case was settled with Perry being awarded $2 million.
Kobe Bryant for Nutella and McDonald’s
Back in 2004, controversial Lakers star Kobe Bryant was embroiled in controversy when he was accused of rape, despite being very much married. At the time, he was an endorser of Nutella and McDonald’s, both of whom felt they were choosing the right ambassador: a great role model as an athlete, husband, and father. But the sexual assault allegations grossly destroyed his previously impeccable image and he lost his two biggest endorsement deals.
Beyonce for Gate Five Video Games
Beyonce has enough star power to be able to sell a video game, not one she endorses but one that’s actually about her. She signed a deal with Gate Five Video Games to create a game entitled, “Superstar: Beyonce.” But when the game didn’t come into fruition by a particular deadline, Beyonce pulled out of the deal. Her move put 70 people out of a job and the company took action by filing a $100 million lawsuit against the singer for breach of contract. Before the scandal could get ugly, both parties reached an amicable agreement outside of court.
Sharon Stone for Christian Dior
Aside from being beautiful, sultry, and intelligent, Sharon Stone is also known for speaking her mind. All these qualities of hers were probably what prompted luxury brand Christian Dior to get Stone as a brand ambassador. But the actress’ outspoken nature got her in trouble when she made an insensitive remark about China after a devastating earthquake in the country claimed around 68,000 lives. She said the tragedy was karma for the Chinese’s mistreatment of the Dalai Lama, who was her friend. Dior swiftly pulled out their ads in China, which was considered one of the bigger markets of the brand.
Chris Brown for Got Milk and Doublemint
Back when Chris Brown was the music industry’s up and coming star, he was on top of the world. Songs topping the billboard charts, sold-out concerts, and big endorsement deals for the “Got Milk” campaign and Doublemint gum—he had it all. That is, until he assaulted his then-girlfriend Rihanna and his golden boy image was tarnished. The brands he endorsed had to uphold their wholesome and family-friendly image so they had no choice but to end their contracts with Brown.
Kate Moss for Chanel, Burberry, and H&M
One wrong move and a celebrity’s career can be in shambles, which is one disadvantage of being in the limelight. Kate Moss was a victim of her own immoral actions when in 2005, she was photographed smoking pot and the photos were immediately sold to the media. At the time, she was the face for many big brands like Chanel, Burberry, and H&M but unfortunately for her, they dropped her like a hot potato after the incident. As Moss learned the hard way, none of these brands wanted to be associated with a druggie.
Angelina Jolie for St. John
If upscale fashion brand St. John was as high-profile as Burberry or Gucci, getting a celebrity endorser as famous as Angelina Jolie might have worked. But since it’s a low-profile (though far from mass-produced) brand, Jolie as a brand ambassador completely overshadowed the name in the ads back in 2005 to 2008. This was the time Jolie’s controversial romance with Brad Pitt was making headlines so her overexposure started tarnishing the brand. St. John made a clean break and didn’t renew Jolie’s contract after it ended.
Sarah Jessica Parker for Gap
Perhaps one of Gap’s biggest blunders was getting Sarah Jessica Parker as its endorser from 2004 to 2005. When you think of SJP, the brands that come to mind are high-fashion ones associated with Sex and the City, like Oscar de la Renta or Chanel or Hermes. But goodness, not Gap! The result of the endorsement was a large decline in sales, so it’s a good thing that Parker’s contract only lasted a year. She was quickly replaced by singer Joss Stone.
Brad Pitt for Chanel No. 5
After having beautiful women like Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve, and Nicole Kidman endorse the very feminine fragrance of Chanel No. 5, the brand decided to tread on the edge by getting another enigmatic figure, albeit one from the opposite sex. In a risky move, Brad Pitt became the fragrance’s endorser in 2012 and the campaign was met with widespread criticism, saying the strategy demeaned the perfume’s feminine appeal. Needless to say, the campaign flopped and Pitt’s contract wasn’t renewed.