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Brands have always been a company’s most important asset. Brand managers need to select celebrities as brand endorsers who can represent their respective brands in the best way possible. But not all celebrities fit with all brands. Managers can spend months finding the right fit for their brand, reflecting what the brand represents and still get it wrong. Celebrity endorsements are really an expensive strategy for brands. From the buyer’s perspective, customers tend to purchase from someone they trust, relate to and idolize. A celebrity can persuade the buyer to click ‘purchase’ when they might’ve hesitated. Despite the advantages, any mistake committed by the endorser can negatively portray the brand’s image. Thus, the celebrity’s image can also harm the brand. It is a risky business if the partnership between the brand and the celebrity is not consistent or if the celebrity is misbehaving. It can deteriorate the overall brand’s image and all the marketing efforts done by them.

Sometimes, the brand can also be at fault by making false promises or giving the wrong message in their advertisements. If a celebrity is too big, they might overshadow your brand and the main focus will be on the celebrity rather than the brand in the minds of the consumers. Another problem can be if the celebrity is endorsing two brands. If you know that your products and services can offer a robust value proposition, then the voices of celebrities can ensure that your customers hear your message. Let’s illustrate a few rather unfortunate incidents of celebrity endorsements:

1) Pepsi and Madonna

The first in the list is the infamous Pepsi Ad featuring Madonna. Pepsi has always been known as a company that loves its celebrities be it Michael Jackson or Kendall Jenner. Back in 1989 when “cola wars” was at its peak they chose Madonna as their saviour to represent them. They paid her a whooping sum of 5 million USD to use her as the face of their brand and her song “Like a Prayer” for an advertisement campaign. The TV ad she featured in was called “Make A Wish” and was non-controversial and contained scenes depicting family values. Pepsi decided to present the Ad before the press. The plan was to run the Ad around the world on the top-rated evening TV shows in some 40 countries. Pepsi had expected that around 250 million people would see the ad’s premiere. The song released next day, and was quite contrasting to the Pepsi ad. In the video, the action begins with Madonna running from the sound of police sirens, falling to the ground and then entering a church for sanctuary. In flashback sequences, we can see that Madonna has seen a rape and stabbing of a woman by a white man. The first objections were raised by Rev Donald Wildmond of the American Family Association , He threatened to have his AFA Journal’s 380,000 subscribers boycott Pepsi until the company bowed to his demands. Then a Catholic bishop from Texas, Rene Gracido, added his voice to the fight, calling Madonna’s video offensive. He too called for a boycott of Pepsi and its other businesses — Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The protest began to grow. The album Like a Prayer was later censored by the Vatican. The major fault of Pepsi was that they didn’t see the video before signing the contract.

2)Oprah Winfrey And Microsoft Surface

If you want to give your product a kickstart just feature Oprah Winfrey in an advertisement with the product! That's exactly what Microsoft did with their first tablet, the Microsoft Surface. Oprah said that the Microsoft Surface Tablet was one of her favourite things in 2012. On her website she wrote, "The Surface, Microsoft's first tablet, feels like a Mercedes-Benz to me, people!"

No doubt Oprah's support of the tablet helped increase Microsoft's profits... until the media found out that she made a small mistake on Twitter. With a following as huge as 14.8 million she tweeted, "love that Surface!" But there was just one problem with her message; the Tweet was sent from Oprah's iPad!

Apple users rejoiced and were very happy that Microsoft’s product promotions were coming from apple products. Some thought that it was not so wrong, since Microsoft tablet did not support Twitter. However this led to criticism for Microsoft for not supporting Twitter.

3)TVS Jupiter and Amitabh Bachchan-

TVS Jupiter launched a campaign with Amitabh Bachchan to advertise scooters. The Company had started a 360 degree campaign #Zyadakafayda. The Vice President said about the campaign that “TVS Jupiter customer, is a family man who wants the best for his family members and will go that extra mile to ensure that his decision is the right fit for them. Today, the consumers are discerning and believe in exercising the luxury of choice, especially in terms of purchase decisions, as opposed to following the herd.” Bachchan reassures his customers to ‘KhudAazmaiye’ their purchase and claims that TVS Jupiter will be their perfect choice of requirements. One of the ads, uses words like ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Brihaspati’, which means prosperity. The brand firmly targets ‘the middle class’ and ‘the working class’. The advertisement and the branding strategy do not align with the brand endorser. Hence, the overall campaign was a failure as it could not appeal the audience. Clearly, they couldn’t establish the connection between an every product being sold for the masses and the demi-god asking them to buy it.


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