Don’t Wear Our Clothes! Failed Celebrity Endorsements
Abercrombie & Fitch is pleading with Jersey Shore’s The Situation to stop wearing its clothes in public. Celebrities and brand names have long had a cozy, mutually beneficial relationship, with designers rushing to snag the stars’ seals of approval. But sometimes famous products and people are not so eager to have their names associated with certain personalities. From the Abercrombie case to Cristal champagne’s rejection of Jay-Z to Obama’s spurning of Ludacris, see nine endorsements that didn’t fly.
Celebrities and brand names have long had a cozy, mutually beneficial relationship, with designers rushing to snag seals of approval from stars. But sometimes famous products and personalities are not so eager to have their names associated with certain personalities. From Abercrombie & Fitch’s rejection of The Situation to Cristal Champagne’s diss of Jay-Z, see nine endorsements that didn’t fly.
Wagner Az / Pacific Coast News The Situation and A&F
With celebrity often come expensive gifts and swanky brand endorsements, but in the case of the cast of
, Abercrombie & Fitch is begging—nearly pleading—that they Jersey Shore stop wearing its line. The apparel retailer is offering Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, a cast member famous for excessive partying, drinking, and promiscuity, a “substantial payment” to wear just about anything else. “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image,” an A&F spokesman said in a statement. “We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.”
Francesco Bellini / AP Photo Snooki and designer-bag brands
Snooki, another Jersey Shore cast member, was also targeted in a bit of a scandal involving designer purses. While Snooki may be the cast’s most entertaining breakout star, given her arrest and shocking slug to the face by an ex–gym teacher, luxury lines want nothing to do with her. Designer-purse brands are going so far as to stock the reality star with—not their own merchandise, but competitor brands. This aggressive tactic was meant, in essence, to set the record straight: Snooki is not synonymous with style.
Kendra Wilkinson and Olive Garden
Kendra Wilkinson expressed her love affair with Olive Garden, an Italian restaurant chain famous for its tagline, “When you’re here, you’re family.” In 2008, Wilkinson said Olive Garden was better than any restaurant in Italy, but her free publicity was not exactly welcomed. A former Playboy cover model, Wilkinson starred in the reality show The Girls Next Door as one of Hugh Hefner’s three live-in girlfriends, making her the antithesis of traditional “family values.” Executives at Olive Garden were uneasy about discussing the matter, calling it a “complicated issue for the brand.” Nevertheless, Wilkinson stayed true to form when she instigated a contest for the hottest waitresses of Olive Garden, awarding a nude Playboy spread to the winner.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo Barack Obama and Ludacris
While running for the presidency in 2008,
Barack Obama condemned a song released by the rapper Ludacris that praised the candidate and bashed competitor Hillary Clinton as “irrelevant.” In the lyrics of “Politics as Usual,” Ludacris says Republican candidate John McCain doesn’t belong in “any chair unless he’s paralyzed.” Obama called the lyrics “outrageously offensive,” despite his otherwise positive relationship with the hip-hop artist: “While Ludacris is a talented individual, he should be ashamed of these lyrics," an Obama campaign spokesman told the AP.
Hillary Clinton and O. J. Simpson
Which is worse—being called “irrelevant” by an influential rap star or receiving an endorsement from a suspected killer and convicted felon? After
Hillary Clinton’s public slam by Ludacris, she received an unsolicited endorsement from O. J. Simpson during her 2008 presidential bid. Did it hurt her campaign? Well, it probably didn’t help. Nevertheless, Simpson and the Clintons go way back. The former football great’s acquittal in the most famous case of “getting away with murder” aired the same night as President Bill Clinton’s 1996 State of the Union address.
Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo Jessica Simpson and Chicken of the Sea
In perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring questions ever posed in all of
MTV history, pop star Jessica Simpson asked, “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?” referring to Chicken of the Sea tuna. The mystifying remark inspired a series of parodies and criticism, causing the canned-fish distributor to settle the matter once and for all in 2003. On a personalized tour of the factory in San Diego, the company VP explained the origins of the brand to Simpson, to which she responded: “I will be a consumer forever.”
Rachael Ray and Dunkin’ Donuts
Talk-show host and cookbook author
Rachael Ray was accused of being a terrorist sympathizer when she sported a scarf in a 2007 Dunkin’ Donuts ad similar to one popularized by the late Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasir Arafat. Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin pushed for a boycott of the ad, calling the scarf an accessory of “Muslim terrorists.” The Dunkin’ Donuts management complied with the request and took down the video: “Absolutely no symbolism was intended,” the senior VP of communications said in a statement. “However, as of this past weekend, we are no longer using the online ad because the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee.”
Lindsay Lohan and Ariva Nicotine Gum Joe Corrigan / Getty Images Jay-Z and Cristal
Jay Z is known for rapping about the finer things in life, but when a luxury brand of champagne belittled his support, Jay-Z fired back. In the song “ Hard Knock Life,” Jay-Z raps: “Let’s sip the Cris and get pissy-pissy.” Champagne Cristal’s managing director was asked in 2006 if Jay-Z’s association with the brand would harm its reputation, to which he responded: “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.” Jay-Z said the comment was racist and led the hip-hop nation in boycotting the brand.