The Worst of Celebrity Endorsements

Someone should have thought this through.


If you’ve used the internet at all in the past month then you’ve probably noticed DJ Khaled has become the latest rapper/producer to jump on the premium headphone bandwagon, and he’s been on his promotional grind non-stop.  Results so far have been mixed; for every impressive Times Square billboard, there’s been 30 Instagram posts of headphones draped around a pair of his shoes, or Fat Joe, or his own neck during those awkward treadmill videos he keeps uploading (We’re glad you’re getting in shape bruh, but making eye contact with somebody while they’re working out is never not uncomfortable).

With Dre becoming Seinfeld-rich from his headphones, everybody with a verified Twitter account  will be calling their agent to arrange some sweet endorsement cash–but they’d do well to remember Newton’s Third Law of selling out: every successful celebrity product has an equal and opposite rip-off; for every Beats by Dre there’s a dozen ‘Monster Ncredible with Nick Cannon’; For every dignified Bill Murray Lost In Translation whisky advert, there’s a hundred where Cristiano Ronaldo massages himself with testicle-sized disco balls, or attempts to promote a product so ridiculous that he’s obviously suspicious of being on a prank show, and does a few kick-ups instead of putting it anywhere near his mouth. 

Here we take a look at the less glamorous side of celebrity endorsements and where they went wrong.

1. Ben Stiller’s Japanese Alcopops

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You’d be forgiven if you assumed this was those fake trailers they made for Tropic Thunder–it’s got all of the stereotypical Japanese-advert flourishes; it’s badly dubbed, over saturated, it references American culture and somebody gets frozen inside a block of ice–but this is a genuine attempt at getting Ben Stiller to push Japan’s version of Hooch. Pretty embarrassing, until you realise it was made in 1999, so acts as proof that he hasn’t aged a day in the past 15 years.

2. Jerry Seinfeld’s Microsoft Commercials

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Microsoft was struggling hard to compete with Apple in the late 2000s; the newly-dropped iPhone was the hottest news of the decade, and the Mac backlash (to be referred to as Maclash from now on) was yet to begin.  Windows Vista needed all the help it could get to try and establish some relevance with a young audience—so how did Microsoft try and do that?  By getting the Normcore OGs Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld to form a comedy double-act and star in a bunch of misadventures presented as adverts.  

We watched all of them twice over and still couldn’t work out what the message was.  Microsoft quickly saw sense, and after two weeks the adverts were pulled and replaced by a campaign featuring Eva Longoria and Pharrell Williams, among others.

3. Ozzy Osbourne Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

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It could be argued that in subverting all anti-capitalist and anti-establishment expectations of himself, Johnny Rotten performed the ultimate act of Punk defiance by appearing in adverts for Countrylife dairy spread.  It wasn’t, of course, not least because Ozzy Osbourne beat him to the chase by appearing in adverts for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter several years before.  

What relevance does the Prince of Darkness have to spreadable vegetable oil? We’re not sure.  Perhaps he buttered the bat whose head he chewed off on stage.  More likely though, is that Black Sabbath’s hipster revival was ten years away yet, and he was probably short of a few quid.

4. Hulk Hogan’s Ultimate Grill

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You think the Hulkster was going to sit by and watch George Foreman hold a monopoly on the retired athlete electric grill market?  Think again, brother.  For a brief period in 2007, Hulk’s 30 minute infomercial ran non-stop on some obscure shopping channel occupying a Sky Digital slot somewhere between and GemsTV.  This meant two things: The product was bound to be crap, but you were only ever 30 minutes away from hearing its theme song.  Yeah that’s right, the grill had a theme song.  

Unfortunately the grill was recalled in 2008 because there was a small risk that it might spontaneously combust.  The Ultimate insult?  The makers of the George Foreman grill actually approached Hulk Hogan as the first choice to endorse their product, but he turned it down—a move which reportedly cost him $200 million.


6. Dipset Sizzurp

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Ever wonder why rappers are so eager for you to get turnt up? It’s because they own most of the liquor brands that they sing about. Rick Ross, Jay Z, P DiddyBirdman, Luda; Lil Wayne even has a range of wine that for some reason isn’t called Lil Wine. COME ON MAN. Never one to miss out on a hustle, Cam’ron and Dipset tried to launch their own premium liquor: Sizzurp.

Where did it go wrong? Sizzurp is the codeine, promethazine and Sprite concoction which is to 90s/00s Houston what Opium was to Victorian England, if you replace Dickens and Our Mutual Friend with Souljah Boy and “Yasss Bish”. Sizzurp is an off-brand version of Alize with very little of the same chemical compounds as Sizzurpexcept purple – and purple isn’t even a chemical. Biggie name-dropped Alize in Juicy, and even that wasn’t enough to make it cool. Finally, the fact that Dipset – proud, upstanding representatives of Harlem – are jumping on a Southern tend to try and cash in just stinks of desperation; the kind of cultural appropriation you’d expect to see at a student union hip-hop night in the counties.

On the plus side, it did result in this promotional video; a bizarre mix of home video and recycled music video footage soundtracked by a way-too-long version of Kanye’s dessert/sizzurp scheme from Through the Wire, introduced by Bun B attempting to market the drink through reverse psychology.

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