Unfortunately being taken advantage of can happen to the best of us. No matter who you are, at some point someone has most likely benefited from your loss. However with celebrities and such high profile figures in the media, you would think they, of all people, would be protected. Well, apparently not.
Celebrities and the advertising industry go hand in hand like a perfectly snug blanket. Be it online, on television or even on the product itself, a firm friendship has remained between the two. With the star going home with a hefty wage packet and the advertiser churning in the big bucks, it is safe to say that it works and it’s extremely profitable for both parties. Yet, what happens when such a formidable figure finds themselves in a position where they have advertised a product that they had no prior knowledge of ever agreeing to do so? Surely you would probably think that this kind of publicizing was illegal, however, due to various loopholes and legal jargon, it is actually starting to become an enormous problem throughout the world.
Whether it’s the celebrity having no knowledge of the product at all, or purposefully attaching their name to a shady looking business without doing their research, the result is always the same. From deceiving its consumers into purchasing its products, or from deceiving its stars into selling their products, the temptation to do so will also be too powerful to ignore. With the likes of Oprah Winfrey to David Beckham and such high celebs as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, it seems as if no one is safe from the almighty endorsement scam.
12. Garcinia Cambogia – Dr. Oz
Quack Doctor, Dr Oz was slapped on the wrists for promoting the weight loss supplement ‘Garcinia Cambogia’, a tropical fruit that claims to burn fat quickly and help extreme weight loss. Whilst advertising the product on his popular daytime show, Dr Oz claimed that the product itself is extremely credible with numerous accounts of scientific evidence. Later when questioned about false advertising by the chairwoman of Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, Senator Claire McCaskill asked, “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff when you know it’s not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show? … With power comes a great deal of responsibility.” Ouch!
11. Impotence Pills and Condoms – David Beckham
An unaware David Beckham was found to be endorsing two Chinese advertisements, both of which were involved with sex. With a voiceover that states, ‘You want to know how I keep myself hard on the pitch?”, Becks and a number of other stars such as Keanu Reeves and Sean Connery are portrayed as taking the products and using them to the full effect. Another advert featured “David Beckham” condoms that boasted less lead and toxins. Dubbed and endorsed without his consent, Beckham got his lawyers involved, however, due to complex Chinese loopholes, nothing was ever resolved.
10. Raspberry Ketone – Adele
Internet dieting website Raspberry Ketone caused an internet storm when it was revealed that it was making millions off the back of famous starlets such as Adele and Victoria Beckham. Using the fake endorsements, the Raspberry Ketone Diet tricked millions all round the world thanks to its advertisements on Facebook. With tailor made images and comments from the famous figures regarding metabolism and weight loss, the company finally had their internet ads banned when the UK Advertising Standards Authority who stepped in stating that they were misleading. Thankfully other countries began to follow.
9. Super Replicas – Steven Spielberg
A Panama-based company named Super Replicas recently claimed to make foreign and expensive car copies for as low as $20,000. With supposed celebrity endorsements such as Steven Spielberg and TV show Top Gear, the company continued to advertise its claims on YouTube. Offering customers the chance to buy unblemished copies of cars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, for such a tiny amount, audiences immediately became dubious and rightly so. However, others didn’t fare too well, losing thousands.
8. Neurocell Pills – Denzel Washington
Said to “enhance cognitive brain function and neural connectivity, while strengthening the frontal cortex and boosting memory and recall”, Neurocell Pills known as ‘smart pills’ have supposedly been endorsed by the likes of Anderson Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Denzel Washington and even Stephen Hawking. With fake Harvard doctors also doing their best to reassure how great these pills are, Neurocell Pills have been doing the rounds for a while, yet still continues to be able to exploit numerous celebrities around the world.
7. Chez Gabriela Studio – Jennifer Aniston
You’ve got to have balls to go up against the ladies of Beverly Hills, yet salon owner Maria Gabriella Perez did just that. Famous for tending to the faces of Hollywood royalty. Names such as Jennifer Aniston, Liv Tyler, Anne Hathaway and Melanie Griffith would often appear, supporting their favorite facialist. However, she wasn’t as legit as she liked people to think, when it was later found out that she had been skimming the credit cards of her most high profile clients. Aniston later stated, “We had a situation that was not cool, so I sort of just stopped going to her”. Perez was eventually arrested and accused of fraud.
6. Wu Long Tea – Oprah
In 2009, Oprah Winfrey filed a lawsuit against Canadian Jesse Willms for using her image to advertise his ‘nutritional supplements’; in other words, a green tea that assisted those who wanted to lose weight. Making a huge amount of money from the use of Oprah’s face, Willms was ordered to pay a fine, however, in the end he wasn’t actually charged with anything, managing to walk away with a pocket full of cash. Interestingly, the lawsuit also claimed that he had also used the images of Dr. OZ in a previous campaign.
5. Alliance Publishing – Tim Ferriss
Not content with scamming the A-listers, companies have also been known to go for the slightly less famous, in example, Tim Ferriss. Author of the 4 Hour Workweek, Ferriss only discovered he was being used through a twitter follower who had asked him if he had endorsed a sales program that had been sent by post. ‘Alliance Publishing’ was found to be a company that dealt in ‘Infinity Income Dealership’ attaching Tim’s name as a reliable representative. Upon finding out, Ferriss immediately shut it down, yet other authors’ names still remain as authentic delegates.
4. The Toni Braxton Impersonator
Angel Ventura, a concert promoter in Suriname, South America, tried to pull the wool over the eyes of thousands of fans who had bought tickets to watch Toni Braxton perform. Charging fans $53 dollars a ticket to watch the 6-time Grammy winner live, it was then revealed to be a Braxton impersonator named Trina Johnson-Finn. Nicknamed the ‘Phony Toni’ show by the media, fans quickly realized and booed off the Las Vegas entertainer. With Ventura getting away scot-free, Johnson-Finn wasn’t so lucky and ended up in jail with allegations of fraud.
3. Kim Kardashian’s Body
Rearing her head once again, queen of the celebrity endorsement scams, Kim Kardashian was hit by another, this time a Mexican surgeon. Dr. Victor Ramirez, a plastic surgeon residing in Mexico, used a picture of the reality TV star, who has famously denied surgery in the past even getting an X-ray on her behind to prove so, to endorse his skillful services as a plastic surgeon. Unfortunately for him, the voluptuous beauty found out he was just another scam. However, things got worse for Ramirez when it was reported that an Australian woman had died whilst under his care when undergoing buttock implant surgery.
2. Acai Berry – Rachel Ray
Otherwise known as the ‘100 million dollar weight loss scam’, Acai Berry was an online advertising campaign that often used an unaware Oprah Winfrey, Dr Oz (why him again?) and Rachael Ray to endorse their products. Boasting that it will ‘boost your metabolism’ and help you shed those unwanted pounds, Acai Berry proved immensely popular. Yet with no credible sources, bogus endorsements and a huge amount of complaints, the company was eventually shut down.
1. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC – Kevin Bacon
In 2009, Bernard Madoff, the founder of the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was sentenced to 150 years in prison after he admitted that the wealth management part of his business was actually a Ponzi Scheme. With thousands of people affected, he also got his hands on some celebrities that entrusted him with their billions. With celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Larry King and ZsaZsa Gabor all feeling the wrath of Madoff, it was Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick who said it best, claiming ‘they lost hard earned money they thought was in a safe place’.