30 notable celebrity endorsements
When a company wants to sell you something these days, it needs to do more than just show you the product. It has to create a lasting brand impression. Cute characters like geckos and tigers are great tools for selling car insurance and breakfast cereal, but sometimes brands need more of a human touch to move the sales needle. While some ad agencies are quite content to use generic actors that become emblematic of the brand they represent (Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy and Snapple’s “Snapple Lady” are good examples), the more reliable method is to recruit celebrities who already have a built-in fan base. The bigger the celebrity following, the bigger the reach of whatever product they’re endorsing.
The most famous endorsements create an indelible connection between brands and their spokespeople. The best celebrity endorsers can even become synonymous with multiple brands. Take Michael Jordan—it’s not hard to think about the various companies he endorsed over his legendary career (and well into retirement, too). This list of 30 famous celebrity endorsements features actors, athletes, and entertainers who have parlayed their fame into even greater paychecks by aligning themselves with everything from shampoo to life insurance.
His Airness Michael Jordan has been partnered with Nike since 1984, when the first Air Jordans rolled off assembly lines. The shoe has now 33 editions and numerous re-releases and re-designs with different colors. More importantly, Jordan’s affiliation with Nike launched his own spin-off brand, Jordan Brand, which until recently was the #2 best-selling sneaker company in America.
When Danica Patrick first emerged on the auto racing scene, she was something of a novelty—and that's exactly what appealed to the website domain brokers at GoDaddy. They teamed up with Patrick in 2006, and the relationship lasted for nearly a decade. In a nod to professional symmetry, Patrick joined forces with GoDaddy again for the final races of her career at the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 this year.
Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent, was picked to shill for Vitaminwater when the company saw him holding a bottle in a photo (which, ironically, was an ad for another company). In 2004, Jackson signed a deal with Vitaminwater's parent company, which landed him a minority stake in the business. That ownership percentage converted to major cash (estimates put it close to $100 million) when Coca-Cola purchased the company for $4.1 billion.
Alex Trebek spends most of his days moderating trivia hijinks over at “Jeopardy,” but he also appears in some commercial breaks shilling for Colonial Penn life insurance. Trebek has been a spokesman for the company since 1998, and has also endorsed DirecTV, Emerald Downs Racetrack, and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board.
"Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara has been a popular celebrity spokesperson for years, and Head & Shoulders sounds the perfect fit for her—she claims to have used the product for the past two decades. Her hair has been a topic of discussion of late, so it makes sense for her to work with a hair care brand.
Endorsements often work best when they fit the personality of the celebrity, and that proves true in the case of Matthew McConaughey and Lincoln Motor Company. While McConaughey began his career as a goofy hunk in films like “Dazed and Confused” and “The Wedding Planner,” his evolution into a sophisticated actor in “Dallas Buyers Club” and “True Detective” allowed him to endorse more sophisticated brands like Lincoln, which, in turn, got mocked by Saturday Night Live.
When she was just 15 years old, Brooke Shields starred an ad for Calvin Klein jeans that featured the famous line, “What gets between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” She was no stranger to controversy at that point, having starred as a child prostitute in “Pretty Baby” and a barely clothed castaway in “The Blue Lagoon.” Thirty-seven years after her original 1980 ad campaign, she starred in another Calvin Klein ad at age 52, modeling the brand’s lingerie.
Before his retirement, Peyton Manning was one of the most recognized faces in sports. As an elite quarterback in the NFL, his approachable everyman demeanor made him the highest-paid endorser in the league, with $12 million in endorsements a year. Perhaps his most best-known turn came as a spokesperson for pizza chain Papa John’s. Manning appeared in commercials for the chain, and even owned 31 Papa John’s franchises before selling them in February.
John Stamos started appearing on behalf of Dannon’s Oikos greek yogurt back in 2011, starring in two separate Super Bowl commercials for the brand before Oikos opted to go with Cam Newton instead. The endorsement was a natural match, since Stamos has proudly touted his Greek heritage since his days playing Greek rocker (and best uncle ever) Jesse Katsopolis on “Full House.”
The most sincere celebrity endorsements happen when the celebrity actually uses the product. Oprah Winfrey has openly struggled with her weight for years, so her longtime pairing with Weight Watchers feels uniquely authentic. As an added bonus, Oprah sits on the board of the corporation, and invested heavily in the company. This has made her hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.2018 All rights reserved.