Celebrity endorsements that are remembered for all the right, and wrong, reasons

November 16, 2018

Celebrity Endorsement

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at some of the longest-standing sponsorship deals in sport. Now we’ve turned out attention to celebrity endorsements.

Back in the 2000s you would see teen-pop icon of the time, Britney Spears, endorsing Pepsi and this trend has continued and grown over the years alongside the rise of social media. Social media provides an outlet for people to see what their idols are up to and to keep up to date with celebrity gossip. Companies have evolved their marketing strategies to ensure they use the right famous face for their brand. Brands have seen the benefits the influencer method can have - providing access to new markets, often younger markets, by signing up a celeb to endorse their brand.

Adding a famous face to an advert can help it become more memorable to an audience and consumers can feel more connected to a brand if its products are promoted by a celebrity they admire or relate to. Subconsciously people believe that purchasing a product that’s promoted by a celebrity they admire, will allow them to emulate the celebrity’s desired traits or attract similar people into their lives. They will associate the celebrities’ success, beauty, athletic skill etc. with a particular product.

We’ve listed some celebrity endorsements that have become memorable for all the right reasons, and some that are for the wrong reasons…

Pepsi – Kendall Jenner

In 2017, Kendall Jenner, part of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, created an advert with Pepsi -  immediately receiving backlash. During the two and a half minute advert, the reality TV star and model gives a can of the drink to a police officer during a protest as a peace offering. Crowds’ cheers and the officer smiles.

However, the advert was criticised as many believed it trivialised demonstrations aimed at tackling social justice causes, suggesting that protestors and police would get along better if the former were kinder and being insensitive with regard to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Pepsi pulled the advert in under 24 hours after its release and said: "Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologise. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.”

Kendall Jenner also said she never meant to offend anyone. Pepsi and Kendall Jenner have both faced previous backlash with Pepsi pulling an advert in 2013 for Mountain Dew that was criticised for portraying racial stereotypes and appearing to make light of violence toward women. Kendall’s video for Vogue in 2016 resulted in uproar and general hilarity after professional ballerinas accused her of being "disrespectful" to artists who devote their entire lives to the dance form.

Maybe this wasn’t the right celebrity endorsement and message portrayed in the advert.

Adidas – David Beckham

Despite retiring from football, David Beckham is still earning big money due to signing a lifetime endorsement deal with Adidas in 2003 which was worth around $160.8 million.

By associating with such a successful and popular footballer, Adidas looked to drive sales and create brand exposure. Beckham is a man who other men want to be, and a man many people want to be with. Portrayed as the family man, along with former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham they’ve built the Beckham empire, ‘Brand Beckham’.

Beckham has grown his empire by working with many brands, including H&M, Breitling, Gillette, Armani, and Sainsbury’s to name just a few. He makes millions selling his name and image and this has helped him move from a football player to businessman, something he’s excited about and proud of, according to a CNBC report from 2017.

Adidas have used the partnership to launch new products including its 2017 relaunched Predator Mania boots – a must have on the field for any Noughties child - to mark Beckham’s 41st birthday. He was also given his own logo by the sportswear brand in 2004.

Beckham is said to play a central role in the design process with iconic features from his career appearing on football boots he designs with Adidas with Beckham saying: “When I look back on the best moments of my career, the one defining theme of them all is the Adidas Predator. It has always been there, helping me play my best when it mattered most. That's why when Adidas offered me the chance to design an updated version of the boot for on-pitch, in the cage and on the street, I absolutely jumped at the chance.”

With Beckham drawing in over 51 million followers on Instagram and over 52 million followers on Facebook, there are plenty of people seeing Beckham wearing the latest Adidas gear. A perfect collaboration.  


Nike – LeBron James

Keeping up the sports theme, American professional basketball player, LeBron James, signed a deal with one of the biggest sportswear companies in the world in 2003 – Nike. It’s reported that he was paid $90 million to endorse Nike for seven years. In 2015, they signed a lifetime endorsement deal - with the terms never reported.

What we do know is Nike has never agreed to a lifetime deal before signing with James and Nike said the deal: “provides significant value to our business, brand and shareholders."

Thanks to the partnership with the NBA player, Nike saw a sales increase of $340 million from 2003-2010 when James was signed to them. Nike has made 13 versions of James' signature shoe, and annual sales in 2015 for his line reportedly topped $400 million.

Even in the 2013-14 season when James didn’t wear his LeBron 11 shoe due to its fit, it still sold well for Nike. In fact, Nike has made more versions of James' shoe than for any other athlete outside of Michael Jordan.

And LeBron James loves the partnership too, with his business partner, Maverick Carter, saying: "LeBron and I have been in love and obsessed with Nike since we were kids. Having built a totally innovative global business with them has truly been a dream come true. We are so excited to be taking the business to an entirely new level. For LeBron, he's thrilled to know he's a Nike guy for life."

What’s better than being paid to work with a brand you love and earn money for wearing their products?!


Chanel No. 5 – Brad Pitt

Perfume brand, Chanel No. 5, is renowned for working with some of the biggest stars over the years but it is the partnership with Brad Pitt that stands out for all the wrong reasons. Pitt made history as the first male spokesperson for the fragrance, however, his ad was not well received.

Chanel reportedly paid Pitt $7 million for his part in the advert and whilst Chanel reported the commercial as a success due to increasing its brand awareness into the men’s market as well as the women’s market - it was made a mockery of by some.

Due to the ad being in black and white and its script, it was spoofed by many people from Conan O'Brien to 'Saturday Night Live'.

Maybe this wasn’t the best ad Chanel could produce. There were so many missed opportunities, especially as this was the first male celeb to formally promote the brand.


Continuing on from the celebrating endorsement them, next we’re looking at product placements before putting our sponsorship and creative teams to the test to see which deals are memorable. Keep up to date with ECHO on our website, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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