Celebs Who Lost Major Endorsements Acting A Fool
When will celebrities learn that once they sign on the dotted line for an endorsement deal, they have to walk a fine line and stay out of trouble? These stars found out the hard way, how their personal lives could negatively affect their bank accounts.
A few weeks ago Paula Deen found herself in a public relations nightmare after the transcript of her deposition in a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit leaked. When asked if she’s ever used the “N-word,” the Queen of Butter replied, “Yes, of course.” Although Deen tried her best to deny she was a racist, she was vilified in the media. As the story grew, one endorsement deal after another fell by the waist side. The Food Network opted not to renew Deen’s contract. Home Depot, Walmart, Target and Smithfield all abandoned ship. Once the second highest paid celebrity chef, it is estimated that Deen’s slip of the tongue could cost her as much as $12.5 million in earnings when the dust finally settles.
As cell phones with cameras installed in them became more popular, some celebs were unknowingly photographed. That was the case with Kate Moss. Back in 2005, the supermodel was partying with a group of supposed friends and was caught in the act of snorting several lines of coke by someone with a cell phone. The UK’s Daily Mirror published the photos and brands couldn’t scramble away from Moss fast enough. One of the most sought after models was now losing deals with H&M, Chanel and Burberry. Soon after the photos were published, Moss checked into rehab. Her career was able to bounce back. Forbes ranked Moss as the second highest earning model in 2012 after she took in a cool $9.2 million.
Rihanna came onto the scene as a sweet starlet but as her career evolved so did her image. Soon her bad girl persona became a hit with fans but not so much for Nivea, who hired the Bajan beauty to be the face of their brand. The skincare company decided to separate themselves from the singer in 2012 after deciding her now infamous bad girl image didn’t line up with what the company stood for. “The advert starring Rihanna was a no-go,” said the head of Beiersdorf, Nivea’s parent company. “I do not understand how Nivea can be brought into association with Rihanna. Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability.”
Pop star Madonna has always pushed the boundaries and limits on what is accepted by society. Her resistance to conform and instead express individuality has won over millions of fans. So it seemed like a no brainer for Pepsi to partner with the singer back in 1989, but the company quickly changed its mind after sacrilegious content popped up in her “Like A Prayer” video. Bowing down to pressure from conservative groups and offended Christians alike, Pepsi decided to no longer run their ad which contained the song from the controversial video.
There was a time during his career when Kobe Bryant was considered the heir apparent to his airness Michael Jordan. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar kept his image pristine clean and raked in millions of dollars from endorsement deals alone. But when the NBA superstar was accused of sexual assault in 2003, those deals quickly dried up. McDonald’s rescinded on its $10 million deal. Nutella and Coca-Cola also distanced themselves from Bryant. Although the charges were eventually dropped, it took a long time for Bryant to repair his tarnished image. His wife Vanessa stood by her man.
Throughout her career, Whoopi Goldberg has always straddled the line between funny and racy. In 2004, the comedian/actress took to the stage at a private fundraising event for presidential hopeful John Kerry and poked fun of President George W. Bush, making several double entendres about his name. Although the jokes went over well with the crowd, the folks over at Slim Fast weren’t laughing and ended their campaign starring the Academy award winner. Undeterred, Goldberg released a statement saying, “Just because I’m no longer in those (commercial) spots, it doesn’t mean I will stop talking. While I can appreciate what the Slim Fast people need to do in order to protect their business, I must also do what I need to do as an artist, as a writer and as an American — not to mention as a comic.”
Pepsi has a habit of parting ways with an artist if they feel their image doesn’t align with the brand. Ever since he was released from jail in 2010, Lil Wayne has been on a mission to reclaim the number one spot in the rap industry. Partnering with the New Orleans native, Pepsi decided to use the Young Money head honcho as the face of its Mountain Dew soda. All was well until a few months ago when Lil Wayne made a crude reference to civil rights martyr Emmett Till in a song. Although Lil Wayne publicly apologized to his fans and Till’s family, Pepsi still decided to severe ties with the “Lollipop” rapper. Lil Wayne recently sparked controversy when footage of him stomping on the American flag during a video shoot surfaced.
Charlize Theron is hardly a controversial figure in Hollywood. The blonde bombshell rarely pops up in the tabloids but back in 2006, the Oscar winning actress made headlines when a watch company took her to court. It turns out Theron signed an exclusive contract with Raymond Weil to only wear their watches but when she was photographed rocking a Christian Dior timepiece, a lawsuit was promptly filed. The South African beauty was able to settle the $20 million lawsuit in 2007.
In February 2009, Chris Brown and Rihanna made headlines after canoodling at a pre-Grammy event. A day later, the R&B couple would make headlines following a brutal assault. Losing his cool with the “Umbrella” singer, Brown repeatedly pummeled Rihanna while they were in his car. He also managed to lose a couple of major endorsements as well. Charged with felony assault, the “Don’t Judge Me” singer was promptly dropped by Wrigley’s Gum and Got Milk, who released a statement announcing the split. “The Milk Mustache campaign is taking the allegations against Chris Brown very seriously. We are very proud and protective of the image of the Milk Mustache campaign and the responsible message it sends to teens. Mr. Brown’s ad was launched last fall and is scheduled to end this week.”
Michael Phelps was America’s golden boy back in 2008 after winning eight gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was proud to put Phelps’ image on their cereal box but he soon lost his luster with the company when photos surfaced of the swimmer toking marijuana from a bong in February 2009. After the photos went viral, Kellogg’s distanced itself from the swimmer and Phelps was suspended for three months. Phelps isn’t hurting for money. After retiring from the pool, the most decorated medalist in Olympic history inked a deal with fast food franchise Subway’s.
Lance Armstrong was a force to be reckoned with on a bicycle. The seven-time Tour de France champion defied the odds by returning to the sport after successfully battling testicular cancer. Although he faced allegations of doping throughout his career, Armstrong has always vehemently denied cheating. Finally coming clean, Armstrong admitted that the allegations were true. Brands that once clamored to stand beside the cyclist were now running away from him. Nike, Amheuser-Busch, Radio Shack, Oakley and Trek Bicycle Corp as well as lesser known companies all severed ties with Armstrong. It is estimated that he could lose over $75 million in the next few years alone because of the doping scandal.
Tiger Woods once had one of the cleanest images in all of sports. That is until his then wife Elin took a golf club and assaulted his vehicle as he tried to run away from her. After it was revealed that the one time number one ranked golf player had multiple mistresses (some of them hookers), companies immediately started to head for the door. Tag Heuer, AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette all severed ties with Woods, costing him an estimated $22 million in earnings in 2010. Nike stood by the athlete who reclaimed the top spot earlier this year.
Self-proclaimed king of the South T.I. had the world in the palms of his hands but that all went up in smoke after he was arrested on federal charges of gun possession in 2008. The Atlanta native lost his endorsement deal with car company GM. Following his release, T.I. was given a second chance by several companies but they once again scrambled away like roaches when the “Live Your Life” rapper was arrested again in 2010. Axe Body Spray and Remy Martin both decided to part ways with T.I., who was headed back to prison for parole violation. Recently, T.I. advised rappers to be mindful of their actions if they have endorsement deals. “Endorsements come from corporations and corporations, that’s outside dollars,” T.I. said during an interview. “That means that’s money that you would not normally be making if you were not associated with this brand. So if you gone be associated with this brand, you gonna have to be associated with this brand and have them be associated with pride in whatever it is you do.”
One seemingly innocent act that’s caught on tape can cost an artist millions. That was certainly the case for Akon in 2007. While performing overseas in Trinidad, Akon was videotaped dry humping a concert-goer who came on stage. Although it was supposed to be an 18 and over show, that concert-goer turned out to be only 15 years old. Once the video went viral, telecommunications mega company Verizon pulled out funding for Gwen Stefani’s tour because Akon was her opening act. In a statement released to the public, Akon expressed his sorrow: “I want to sincerely apologize for the embarrassment and any pain I’ve caused to the young woman who joined me onstage, her family and the Trinidad community for the events at my concert.”
Rick Ross has been in the music industry far longer than he’s been famous. After consistently putting out music for over a decade, the Miami rapper finally reached superstar status a few years ago. Wanting to align itself with Ross, Reebok signed an exclusive deal with the portly rapper. But the union would soon come to an end after Ross’ controversial lyrics in a song promoted rape. The sneaker and apparel company was forced to walk away from him after succumbing to mounting pressure from the public. Ross apologized and hoped artists under his Maybach Music Group would take heed from his mistakes. “It most definitely was a learning situation and just for the little homies, just something for them to take away,” Ross said. “That’s what’s important to me, what they take away from it.”