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Got Milk? Coca-Cola Pepsi

Expensive mistakes: When celebrity endorsement deals go wrong


By Gillian West | Social media manager

November 20, 2012 | 6 min read

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”.

O.J. Simpson and Hertz

In the 1970s and 1980s football star O.J. Simpson was the “dynamite spokesman” for rental agency Hertz. During his athletic hey-day Simpson was one of sport’s most marketable names, until allegations of domestic abuse in 1992 saw Simpson dropped from his $550,000 per-year contract. The rental company still cannot escape the irony of its endorsement in light of 1994's notorious car change through California which preceded his arrest for the murder of his estranged wife and her friend.

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.

Kerry packs her bags

Supermarket chain Iceland dropped Kerry Katona from its advertising after the News of the World published pictures allegedly showing her taking cocaine. At the time Iceland said the revelations made it “impossible” for them to continue working with the reality-TV star, commenting: “For most of the time, she has been a successful part of our advertising campaigns, but has also been through some tough times in her personal life. We have always stood by her, as an example of a normal person and mum who has experienced some of the modern-day culture of fame, and how difficult it can be to deal with”.

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.”

Pepsi phases out Britney

Ronaldinho was not the first to seriously hack off a soft drinks brand after being pictured with its competitor. Back in the early noughties pop princess Britney Spears was signed to a multi-million endorsement deal with soft drinks giant Pepsi but despite all the Pepsi she could drink, Britney kept getting snapped swigging on competitor brand Coca-Cola. In 2002 Pepsi began to phase out Britney in favour of new spokesperson – Beyoncé.

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”.

Forgetful Chris loses wife and Nintendo deal

In 2006 Chris Tarrant and his wife Ingrid starred in a series of advertising spots for Nintendo DS Lite consoles and its ‘Brain Training’ offering. The ads showed Tarrant forgetting things such as his wedding anniversary. Shortly after appearing in the ads Tarrant and his wife revealed they had split with the publicity surrounding the marriage breakdown leading to an unprecedented surge in console sales.
Got Milk? Coca-Cola Pepsi

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