When glancing at a celebrity’s net worth, the millions of dollars listed next to their name might make it seem like the instant they hit it big with a blockbuster movie, a big win at a sporting event or make a hit record, they are rolling in cash. Actually, a substantial portion of money that top athletes and media stars in the U.S. make comes from corporate sponsorships, rather than from their actual salaries or winnings.
Brands are eager to land a celebrity spokesperson because sales tend to jump after it’s been endorsed by a star. Having a celebrity represent a certain brand or product can also help differentiate it from the competition. Despite the fact that some celebrities might not always be the best brand ambassadors (Tiger Woods was dropped by several corporate sponsorship deals after news of his infidelity was made public in the mid-2000s,) the advantages and rewards of companies nabbing an A-lister tend to outweigh the risks. In fact, if an advertising campaign is successful enough, consumers will surely remember the product – and ads – long after they have run their course (case in point: we’re all still saying “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!” even though the butter substitute is no longer exactly en vogue). Here are 10 of the most memorable, and not to mention most successful, celebrity endorsements of all time.
10 Britney Spears for Pepsi
In 2001, the pop star earned $8 million from a highly publicized deal with Pepsi. During her contract with the beverage company, Spears filmed many commercials that appeared in top slots on television including major sports events such as the World Cup. Her last commercial with the beverage manufacturer was a group commercial along with fellow pop stars Pink, Beyonce and Enrique Iglesias. Spears’ tenure with Pepsi was followed by a slew of other pop stars that worked with the company, including Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj.
9 David Beckham for H&M
In 2013, soccer superstar David Beckham began to appear in advertisements for European retailer H&M to promote his Bodywear line for the brand. The sexy advertisements showed off a sweaty and intense Beckham sporting skintight underwear, shorts, t-shirts and more. He also starred in an ad for the line that ran during the 2014 Superbowl. The moody advertisements somewhat allow the clothing to take a backseat to Beckham’s physique, a fact that has not gone unnoticed in the blogosphere.
8 Catherine Zeta Jones and T-Mobile
For a time, Oscar winning Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones made more money off of her commercials and ads than any other celebrity. Her highest profile contract was with American cell phone company T-Mobile. She started working with T-Mobile in 2002 when the brand launched in the United States. Soon, she was appearing in endless print and TV advertisements for the company that featured the slogan “Get More.” Her contract with T-Mobile was phased out in 2006 when the company decided to go in a different direction with their advertising. Over the course of her work with them, the ads undoubtedly helped the smaller carrier become a bigger name in the industry. In 2009, she was brought back briefly to do another series of ads for the company. She reportedly earned $20 million during her time with T-Mobile.
7 Nicole Kidman and Chanel
In 2004, Nicole Kidman starred in an a 180-second short film called “No. 5 The Film,” directed by Baz Luhrmann (whom Kidman had worked with on “Moulin Rouge”). The “film,” which highlighted the famous Chanel No. 5 perfume, cost $42 million to make and was financed exclusively by Chanel. The project was “screened” in many cinemas before a feature film began. In the end, it felt a bit more like a long advertisement than an actual “film,” and in 2006, an edited 30-second version of the work ran as a television commercial in the U.S. Kidman was paid $12 million for her participation in the project.
6 Tiger Woods and Rolex
In 2011, the pro golfer signed an endorsement deal with Rolex. This was soon after he had lost five major endorsements in the years prior, following the media exposure of his adultery and a public divorce with his wife. Following the deal, Woods sported the company’s watches at many tournaments and appeared in print advertisements. Although Woods used to be at the top of his game in golf, his performance in the sport has been steadily declining in the past few years. Despite this, Woods has maintained his deal with the luxury watch company.
5 Ellen and CoverGirl
Talk show host and comedienne Ellen Degeneres has been a spokeswoman for CoverGirl cosmetics for several years. At age 56, her fresh, youthful glow is highlighted in the company’s television and print advertisements. For a while, rumors circulated that the company was dropping Ellen as a spokeswoman, but CoverGirl still features her on their website and she recently filmed a television spot for the products with fellow television actress Sofia Vergara. Considering all of the cross-promotion between CoverGirl products and her talk show and the brand new tv spots, it seems Ellen is staying put as one of the many faces of CoverGirl.
4 Fabio for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
It’s one of the most quoted television advertisements of all time: “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” Fabio Lanzoni, an Italian fashion model who appeared on the covers of hundreds of romance novels in the 1980s and 1990s, was a spokesperson for the butter substitute on television in the 1990s. The catchphrase – and name of the product – was always uttered in his distinctly accented voice during the television spots. Fabio has also been the spokesperson for endless other products and commercials, including Old Spice.
3 Jessica Simpson for Proactiv
One-time teen pop star Jessica Simpson has been the face of anti-acne skin care product Proactiv for several years. Her work with the company helped launch and increase the sales of the product. In the advertisement, Jessica appears to have a fresh, clear face, and admits that it was the skin care product that helped her complexion to become clear and glowing after a long struggle with acne. Simpson isn’t the only celebrity spokesperson for the skin care line: the company has hired numerous other stars to speak for their product, and has said that they pay their top celebrities between $2 and $3 million per year for their time.
2 Bill Cosby for Jell-O
The television actor and comedian has been a long time spokesperson for Jell-O products. In 2002, it was announced that he held the record for the longest continuous celebrity spokesperson for a product. In 2011, Cosby was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He was one of the first African Americans to appear in the United States as a spokesperson for products (he has been embraced by many other brands as well). As a spokesperson, Cosby has been commended for his credibility and believability thanks to his warm and fatherly personality, which helps provide an authentic-sounding endorsement of the products he speaks for.
1 Michael Jordan for Nike and Hanes
Over the past three decades, basketball star Michael Jordan has been a familiar face in commercials and print ads for numerous products. Most notably, he has been the spokesperson for Nike and Hanes underwear. In the 1980s, he negotiated a five-year, $2.5 million dollar deal to be the spokesperson for Nike. In 1984-1985, he became famous for his Nike Air Jordans shoes, which were designed for him. He wore the shoes in all of his games and they became a highly sought after product by fans. Fast forward 30 years, and Nike now has a Jordan Brand subsidiary, which produces shoes and clothing. Meanwhile, Jordan has also been the longtime star of Hanes underwear commercials. In 2014, he celebrated his 25th year representing the company.