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Celebrity Endorsements and Sex for Sandwiches

June 19, 2005

Make that a double venti to go. Our culture is ruled by celebrity. The public eagerly consumes news of their red carpet couture, shotgun weddings, irreconcilable differences, rehab, semi-annual arrests for child molestation and current cult crazes. It's breaking news when Mary-Kate Olsen drinks a venti Starbucks non-fat soymilk latte. (She is, after all, consuming calories. Alert the Associated Press!)

Not satisfied with their over-exposure on TV, in film, in the gossip rags, in sports arenas, on concert stages, teleported via satellite directly into our cerebral cortexes, celebrities also endorse a variety of products, further fueling the vicious cycle of celebrity consumerism.

Mark Twain:  the face of flour
Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. Mark Twain's image appeared on packages of flour and cigars in the late 1800's, while Buffalo Bill Cody was used to promote Kickapoo Indian Sagwa and Kickapoo Indian Oil (whatever that is). For a time, Elvis was the face of Southern Maid Doughnuts (fitting); his dear wife, Priscilla spoke up for Crystal Light. The difference is that, today, the money behind the deals has grown exponentially. Endorsement contracts generate a huge amount of income for actors, heiresses, (light) rock stars and, especially, athletes.

This looks convincing. I often find it highly unbelievable that celebrity pushers would actually use/consume whatever product they're endorsing. I suppose that's not the point ($$$$$), but I'd appreciate at least some relevance. For starters, there's Heidi Klum's McDonald's campaign. You'll have to try very hard to convince me that she's pounding down the Fillet O'Fishes (lots of mayo) while waiting for her Victoria's Secret Swimsuit Issue photo shoot to begin. And how much Jell-O do you think Bill Cosby really ate? Lastly, Morgan Fairchild is NOT going to be caught dead in an Old Navy rugby shirt. You can bet Jennifer Love Hewitt's anorexic little ass on that.

Paris Hilton: Carl's Jr. Prostitute

Corporations would use this girl to sell coffins if they thought it would go over well. The media and public are entranced with all that is Paris Hilton. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. If Paris Hilton decides to publicly masturbate in a London nightclub, so be it. She can still sell hamburgers. In the case of Carl's Jr., this press actually helps their cause.

Be careful not to ingest anything, Paris. The commercial, which shows a particularly slutty Paris sudsing up a Bentley in a trés risqué black bathing suit before she bites into a Carl's Jr. burger, has been labeled "soft-core porn" by the Parents Television Council. I could really care less about that. I can also say that this ad is much better than the former campaign run by the fast food chain. Viewers were previously subjected to extreme close-ups of people chomping into huge, dripping sandwiches, accompanied only by smacking/slurping eating noises. Listening to an amplified swallow is not ever going to entice me to enter a Carl's Jr. My point in mentioning Paris Hilton's profit-earning tits is just that. I'M TIRED OF LOOKING AT YOUR TITS, PARIS. I could draw them from memory; they've flopped out so many times. Please put the boobies away.

Has anyone seen my jock strap?

Madonna: The New Face of Versace

Nothing like continued over-exposure for the third straight decade. Last December, Mr. Donatella Versace announced that Madonna would be the model for Versace's 2005 Spring and Summer spread. She received $10.5 million for the session, two years worth of free Versace duds and access to the Versace mansion in Milan. Is that like the Playboy mansion for drag queens?

Madonna reportedly halted the photo session for a half hour in order to bow to her Kabbalah gods and "pray for good fortune." She was just paid ten-and-a-half million -- does she have to rub everyone's nose in it?

Lindsay Wagner: Bionic Cash Cow

Everybody's drinking Diet-Rite Cola!  Even Lindsay Wagner! You may remember her as the Bionic Woman. Or you might remember her as the face of Diet Rite (1960's), Twice As Nice Shampoo (1967), Lotte Chocolate (in Japan 1978), Kinney Shoes (1983), Jergens (1984), Nescafe (1985), Ford (1987 - 2000), High Road to Health, Vegetarian Cookbook (1990) and, most recently, the Sleep Number Bed (2003).

Lindsay Wagner started out in Hollywood as a model and soon found work in commercials and as a Playboy After Dark hostess. Lindsay's big break came when she appeared as tennis pro, Jaime Sommers, on The Six Million Dollar Man. She guest starred as Col. Steve Austin's (Lee Majors) girlfriend. While skydiving, Jaime experienced a tragic Lindsay Wagner:  Bionic Woman accident. Her parachute failed to open and she was seriously injured after plummeting to the ground like a stone. Steve had her rebuilt with bionic parts, thus creating the Bionic Woman. Lindsay scored her own show; the Bionic Woman aired from 1976 - 1979.

After Bionic Woman was canceled, Lindsay joined the ranks of the Lifetime Movie Network proud. She appeared in such films as The Other Lover (also starring a young Shannen Doherty circa 1985), Fighting for My Daughter (with Piper Laurie and Chad Lowe), and best of all, she lent her voice to I'm a number 35! Voices That Care (1991). Lindsay joined numerous celebrities, including Peter Cetera, Bobby Brown, Rick Dees, Mike Tyson, Tiffany, Nell Carter, Harry Hamlin, Gunnar Nelson, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Henry Winkler, who came together to join their voices...in care. Right. I think this marketing concept was already well covered with both We Are the World and Band Aid.

Whatever her current "projects." it's obvious Lindsay Wagner never lost her touch for signing endorsement deals. Her Sleep Number is 35! Just watch A & E late at night and you'll see. The Bionic Woman will never die.

"No" More David Spade

I hate you.  But not as much as you hate yourself.

David Spade has become the "No" Guy for Capital One's "What's in your wallet?" campaign. His snotty shtick has grown so tiresome that it doesn't even look like he's trying. How much do you think he hates himself?

Asahi:  Coffee in a can!

Tiger Woods: Soul for Sale

Wheaties. American Express. Buick. EA Sports. Nike (a five-year $100,000,000 deal signed in 2000). Titleist. Tag Heuer. TLC Laser Eye Centers. Nokia. Accenture. Disney. Asahi "coffee in a can" (yes, the same Japanese company that makes the beer). Net Jets. Upper Deck trading cards. I'm for sale if he wants to endorse me.

In 2004, Woods was the world's top earning athlete with $89 million. He raked in $75 million through his various endorsement contracts alone. Well done, Tiger.

Envision her felating Billy Joel.


Celebrity-hosted infomercials are a slightly different species than the lucrative prime-time spot. Informercials are typically hosted by stars whose brightness has somewhat...dimmed. I'm talking about the Christie Brinkleys and Chuck Norrises of the world who are now pushing the Total Gym home fitness system. Don't forget George Foreman and his Grill, Dionne Warwick's Pyschic Friends, Richard Simmons' Farewell to Fat and Bruce Jenner's PowerWalk Plus treadmill.

Dave Coulier and his sweater
Unless they are hawking exercise equipment that will be recalled a few years for crushing some poor bastard's trachea, the infomercial celebrity's uniform is a sweater or jogging suit so horrendous that even Bill Cosby or Dave Coulier wouldn't have touched in their prime. Oh, and don't forget a little swab of vaseline on the teeth -- keeps the smiles pretty! The Juiceman knows where you live.

My favorites are the people who become celebrities because of their infomercials. How soon we forget Jay Kordich the Juiceman. Remember the Juiceman's eyebrows? Nothing like a tall refreshing glass of carrot-celery-beet juice to get the train moving. The Juiceman loves his juice. And what a, er, golden tan. It's stunning.

Jay needs to take a breather from the nitrous.

Florence Henderson wears dentures!  Ha ha! Until this country becomes communist, companies will continue to seek out fresh celebrity faces to front their products. It's only a matter of time before Brittany Murphy supplants William Shatner, Priceline Florence Henderson as the spokeswoman for Polident. Until then, the world will continue on its set course; William Shatner will croon about discount airline tickets and I will sleep soundly at night.

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