Sometimes having celebrities pitch your products can backfire. Badly. Here are six infamous cases in which celeb endorsements went terribly wrong.
Some celebrity product endorsements are such natural fits that we have a hard time envisioning the product without the celebrity’s face smiling next to it. Think of Michael Jordan and Nike NKE 0.12% , or Brooke Shields and Calvin Klein. Or Fabio and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
Then there are other celebrity endorsements, which attract consumer rage like a moth to a flame. The reasons vary – bad taste, tone-deaf celebrity choice or an erupting scandal. In those cases, the companies usually pull the commercials, issue terse apologies on Twitter TWTR 0.10% and hope nobody noticed.
Well, at Fortune, we noticed. So join us as we take a look at some good celebrity endorsements that went bad.
Actor Rob Lowe was cast in commercials for satellite television provider DirecTV DTV -0.02% in a dual role, as both himself and a less dreamy version of himself. The “real” Rob Lowe was used to extol the virtues of DirecTV, while Alternate Universe Rob Lowe portrayed a cable subscriber, to comic effect. The cable provider Comcast didn’t see the humor, and asked the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau to gently urge DirecTV to take down the ads.
The commercials also inspired the indignation of the International Paruresis Association, an advocacy group for people who suffer from shy bladders, a condition alluded to by Alternate Universe Rob Lowe, who claims to be unable to do his business with other people around. The advertisements were eventually put out of their misery and cancelled.
Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman has endorsed products before, such as Chanel No. 5, but her recent advertising campaign for the United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Airways didn’t go over so well. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants released a statement criticizing the actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Women for appearing in the commercials of an airline that “imposes abusive labor practices on its female employees.”
The actress also received some support. A group of American Airlines flight attendants put up a blog called “An Open Apology to Nicole Kidman from American Airlines AAL 0.67% Flight Attendants,” which apologized for the criticism. “As flight attendants with American Airlines, we would like to personally apologize to you for the behavior displayed by our union president, Laura Glading, this past week,” it said. “Ms. Glading’s attack on your character as a contract spokesperson for Etihad Airways is unwarranted and unjustified.”
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