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Expensive mistakes: When celebrity endorsement deals go wrong

As Churchill car insurance decides to axe Martin Clunes from its ads following a driving ban The Drum takes a look at other stars that have lost lucrative advertising deals.

The Olsen Twins for 'Got Milk?'

Actors, singers, model and sports stars alike have starred in the iconic ‘Got Milk?’ ads, and in 2004 the campaign managed to attract child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who at the time were trying to move away from their ‘tween’ image. At the time the twins said they chose to star in the ads to “help make sure our fans are healthy like us”. Unfortunately some weeks later it was revealed Mary-Kate was anything but “healthy” and was in fact suffering from an eating disorder which saw her checked-in to a rehab facility. The Milk Processor Education Program, who are behind the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign, pulled the ads after two months out of “sensitivity to the current situation”.

Ronaldinho's Pepsi slip up

Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho was axed from his Coca-Cola sponsorship deal after appearing with a can of Pepsi during a press conference at Atletico Minerio. The mistake cost the star £1 million in unpaid earnings as his £500,000 per-year contract was set to run until 2014. After the slip up Coca-Cola’s marketing chief, Marcelo Pontes, called the deal “embarrassing”, telling a Brazilian newspaper it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Cocaine Kate

On 15 September 2005, the Daily Mirror published photos of supermodel Kate Moss snorting “line after line” of cocaine at a recording studio with then-boyfriend and known drug addict, Pete Doherty. Dubbed 'Cocaine Kate' by the press, Chanel, who had used the model since 2001, promptly dropped Moss from their advertising, as did fashion house Burberry who in their statement pointed out that though Moss had “worked successfully” with them they over the years they too would be bringing her endorsement deal to an end. Swedish clothing chain H&M also dumped Moss after “customer complaints”. But seven years down the line it would appear all is forgiven as Moss fronts campaigns for the likes of Rimmel, Dior and Mango.

Rihanna's "too sexy" for family brand Nivea

In 2011 Rihanna appeared in a series of adverts for skincare brand Nivea celebrating the brand’s 100th anniversary. Despite being well known for her sexy outfits, raunchy performances, and even appearing in Nivea’s ads nude, the brand decided RiRi was “too sexy” for its family image and ended its association with the singer. Head of Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf, Stefan Heidenreich told German media: “The advert starring Rihanna was a no go. I do not understand how Nivea can be brought into association with Rihanna,” adding “Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability.”

Tiger Woods and Gillette

In light of his infidelity scandal in 2009, Proctor & Gamble brand Gillette was one of many brands to pull its endorsements with pro-golfer, Tiger Woods. In an email to USA Today at the time, Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg claimed the deal had come to an end naturally, adding “Gillette is ending their ‘Champions’ campaign. That is the reason for it not continuing,” though clean-cut Roger Federer who starred in the ads with Woods was mysteriously retained as a brand ambassador. Woods also lost deals with Gatorade, AT&T and Accenture following the scandal.

Phelps not 'Grrrrreat' for Kellogg's

Kellogg’s ended its contract with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps after photos emerged of the sports star smoking a marijuana pipe. At the time a Kellogg’s spokesperson told the media that Phelps’ “behaviour is not consistent with the image of Kellogg’s”. Phelps also received a suspension from competition and was denied financial support for three months by USA Swimming. A then 23 year-old Phelps said he “accepted the decision” and “understood Kellogg’s point of view”.