By definition we celebrate our celebrities. We worship at the altars of their microphones, football boots, cinema screens – or in the case of talentless media candy like Katy Price, Kim Kardashian and that dumb chick from that program about stupid people from Essex – their tits, ass, fake tan and vajazzel. In return for our worship we expect our celebs to continue to regale us with their God given talents – or at least get their tits out. It’s a simple trade off for the most part – we part with our money and senses, they part with their privacy and often their dignity. They get paid lots of money for their part of the deal and there is a tacit understanding between fans and celebs that as long as they remain famous we will faithfully adore them. But then, as if they’re not earning enough money already, greed raises its ugly head as it usually does, and they lead us down the garden path of product endorsement.
So we worship at the feet of our popular icons and they reward our loyalty by betraying us and trying to convince us to buy some shit that they probably don’t even use; ain’t that grand? Of course when I say ‘we’ and ‘us’ I actually mean the rest of the general public – I’m just trying to be polite. I’d hate to think that I purchased some product or service because some famous person smiled on a poster or read from an autocue. I would feel like I right gullible fool, because not only should I know better, I actually do. But it seems that millions of us… you, don’t. And that’s what the advertisers bank on, and it works. You hear the Pied Pipers tune of celebrity endorsement and you dance along to it like subordinate children.
Of course it all depends on what the celebrity is endorsing. Glamorous film stars and style icons suit the glamorous products and brands they endorse – Omega, Rolex, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel – you can be forgiven for believing that the rich and famous use these expensive brands. But do you really believe it when you see Cristiano Ronaldo – one of the highest paid footballers in the world and the vainest sportsman on the planet – driving a Suzuki Swift? You know he wasn’t sporting that car around the streets of Cheshire and Alderley Edge when he was playing for Manchester United.
In the case of sportsmen and women it isn’t too bad for the most part. If a footballer, tennis player or athlete is endorsing the sporting products they actually perform in, then that’s fair enough. But then you see a top class athlete endorsing a fizzy drink or fast food snack and you just know that they’re only doing it for the money.
One of the biggest London Olympics sponsors is MacDonalds. Now does anyone believe that all those sublime Olympic athletes got to the top of their game on a fillet of fish and a Big Mac every day? And what about Ronaldinho and his cola? Do you think a guy who has been voted world footballer of the year twice and is a legend even in the legend-laden history of Brazilian football, would have achieved so much drinking carbonated sugar all day? Did you go out and buy Coca Cola because you believed that it was Ronaldinho’s favourite beverage? Did you, I mean really? I mean I’m not saying the guy doesn’t like a Coke every now and then, or that he took the Pepsi challenge and made a conscious decision to change his choice of beverage (a change that allegedly lost him a £500,000 sponsorship deal) I’m just saying that you have to be some kind of tool… sorry… some kind of fool to change your taste in cola because a famous person drinks something different. But people do. They really do.
I remember when multi-millionaire pop star, sex symbol and Hollywood actor Justin Timberlake was ‘lovin’ it’ for Maccy D’s. Did you really believe that he was lovin’ his burger, shake and fries that much, or do you think it was the six figure endorsement fee? I mean can you see old Trousersnake having those moves if he ate fast food all day? Do you think he wined and dined the likes of Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel in the VIP booth at McD’s off Hollywood boulevard? Of course not. That special treat was reserved for Britney Spears and look what happened there. No; the only celebrity fit to endorse junk food is Elvis.
To tell the truth, if I was a celebrity and some corporation wanted to pay me millions for endorsing their car or carbonated drink I wouldn’t say no. Not because I’m a hypocrite, but because if somebody is damn fool enough to see somebody famous eating, drinking or driving something and then go and copy them, then they deserve to be duped. They say there’s one born every minute, which adds up to a lot of profit for the celebrity endorsers. If all those minute idiots want to eat or drink themselves into an early grave then who am I to argue with the principle of Natural Selection.