10 Famous Spokespeople Who Blew It Big Time
Having never been the spokesperson for a famous brand, I could be wrong in assuming it’s a pretty cherry gig. Especially for those who aren’t playing a character and are instead getting paid to simply be themselves, we figure as long as you are able to stay out of the public eye in a negative way, you’re pretty much set. The following list of both celebrities and average Joes turned mouthpieces clearly didn’t get the memo. Let’s see how many you remember.
Jared Fogle (Subway)
OK, so it’s kind of hard to forget someone like Jared Fogle, whose weight loss story has been Subway’s bread and butter for the last 15 years. His recent fall from grace is certainly shocking, though, especially to those who’ve considered him their champion in the fight against obesity. Sadly, July 7th, 2015 may have changed all that forever, as the longtime spokesman’s home was raided for child pornography by the FBI, causing Subway to suspend their ties with him for the indefinite future. Fortunately for Fogle, this raid may simply be in connection to Russell Taylor, the executive director of his Jared Foundation who arrested and charged with similar crimes back in April. Fogle severed ties with Taylor immediately following said arrest, which says to us that this time around may just be a matter of authorities following up. Still, whether or not Fogle is charged with any crimes, this mishap will certainly taint the brand regardless. And we all know what happens then.
Michael Phelps (Kellogg Co.)
While we’re on the subject of Subway spokespeople, it would seem even Olympic gold medalists aren’t incapable of screwing up their endorsement deals. Just ask Michael Phelps. While Subway didn’t actually drop the swimmer as a sponsor when he was photographed hitting a bong back in February 2009, they did remove him from their website and delay his TV ad which was supposed to air around the same time. That said, Phelps didn’t get as lucky with Kellogg’s, who had signed him to a very lucrative deal after he declined a similar offer with Wheaties. While most people wise up after an incident such as this, Phelps actually made matters worse in September 2014 when he was arrested for DUI for a second time in only 10 years. Many sponsors went on to drop him yet again, but none were nearly as high end as the one he’d already lost due to the previous marijuana scandal. Bummer, dude.
Ben Curtis (Dell)
Oh, when will the famous faces of our most beloved products learn to just say no to grass? You know, that drug that’s actually legal in 23 states now. Anyways, that wasn’t the case back on February 9th, 2003 when Ben Curtis, the actor famous for spouting the line “Dude, you’re getting a Dell,” was caught trying to buy dope on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. While we can’t say for sure that this was the one and only cause for Curtis’ dismissal as Dell’s go-to guy (it was rumored they were looking to move in a new direction anyways), but he definitely should have been smarter about his acquisition of illegal drugs. After all, now he’s just the face of “what not to do when you’re a company spokesperson.”
Vince Offer (ShamWow and Slap Chop)
Everyone remembers Vince Offer, who used to hawk products such as the ShamWow and Slap Chop before his arrest in Miami Beach on February 7th, 2009. After soliciting a prostitute, the pitchman got more than he bargained for when the sex he paid for turned into a tongue-biting session resulting in felony battery arrests for both parties involved. However, no formal charges were ever pursued, and Offer was on his way. But the damage had already been done, and even though Offer has attempted a comeback by launching new products like his very own InVINCEable kitchen cleaner, many still see him as the guy who beat up a hooker. That’s pretty tough to live down.
Suzy Favor Hamilton (Nike and Disney)
Of course, being an actual prostitute is even tougher to cover up. Such was the case with former Olympic athlete Suzy Favor Hamilton. Very few spokesperson scandals wind up being as juicy as this one was, so buckle up. Training since she was 9 years old, Hamilton went on to make a name for herself as one of the country’s best middle distance runners, securing a spot in three Olympic Games. As it would come to be known in December 2012, however, it was the other name she had made for herself as $600-an-hour Las Vegas call girl Kelly Lundy that would be her undoing. Exposed by website The Smoking Gun, she was forced to admit that she had been leading a double life as an escort for the past year. This resulted in not only brands such as Nike and Disney revoking any association with her, but also the Big Ten recalling her status as female athlete of the year.
Phil Hardy (Congressman Raul Labrador)
Anyone else think this list is getting a little depressing? If so, we’ve got good news: here’s a much funnier story. That is, if you don’t happen to be former spokesperson for Republican Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador and total horndog Phil Hardy. Sure, Hardy himself may not have been especially famous, but the situation which ended up costing him his job certainly was. After watching an especially raunchy Super Bowl ad back in February 2013 for “2 Broke Girls” featuring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs pole dancing to “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Hardy simply couldn’t contain his excitement. So much so that he accidentally tweeted the above statement on his boss’ Twitter page. Oops! Even though he had worked for Labrador since 2010, he was still promptly fired. Apparently the congressman didn’t “likey Broke Girls” nearly as much as he did.
Paula Deen (The Food Network and Smithfield Foods)
Racism isn’t taken lightly by most, and that’s something television personality Paula Deen learned in about the hardest way possible back in June 2013. After she was taken to court for alleged racial and sexual discrimination against former employees, she admitted to having used “the N-word” in her past. This didn’t sit well with many of the brands she was in business with, including but not limited to the ones mentioned above. Several public apologies later, she seems to finally be getting back on her feet. However, if she intends for her comeback to stick, she needs to continue to walk a tight rope and keep a close eye on her public image or she may find herself ruined once and for all.
Rob Schneider (State Farm)
When Time is straight up telling celebrities who are anti-vaccination to “shut up,” then maybe it’s time to shut up. Sure, they are primarily referring to actor Jim Carrey in the link provided, but they mention Rob Schneider as well, whose anti-vax stance got him nixed as a face of State Farm back in September 2014. While Schneider felt his right to free speech was being infringed upon when his “Copy Guy” ad was pulled from the rotation, State Farm rebutted by saying that the negative attention his stance on the subject was receiving is what forced their hand, not simply what he was saying. In any case, we’re pretty sure we all had our fill of The Richmeister back in the ’90s.
Gilbert Gottfried (Aflac)
Insurance companies sure can pick ’em. If that sarcasm doesn’t read well, then allow us to expand on the matter: outspoken comedians don’t make for good spokespeople. Maybe do a little research on the person you’ll have endorsing (or in this case, shouting) the name of your company before you hire them and you can avoid the controversy they are bound to cause. When it comes to comedian Gilbert Gottfried, 9/11 jokes (extremely NSFW) weeks after the event took place were a strong indicator that he’d say something incredibly insensitive during a disaster. Sure enough, when an earthquake/tsunami combo rocked Japan on March 11, 2011, the funnyman didn’t disappoint (depending on who you ask) and he was terminated immediately. Good thing Japan only accounts for around 75 percent of your business, eh AFLAAAC!?
Lance Armstrong (Livestrong Foundation, everything else)
We debated who to end our list on between Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong, but ultimately had to go with the latter once we realized that unfaithful sports stars are a dime a dozen. When it came to Armstrong, however, it was a bit more devastating as well, especially to his faithful followers. Upon the USADA’s 2012 report detailing the highly regarded athlete’s doping regimen through the years, every brand from Nike to Trek Bicycles gave Armstrong the ol’ heave-ho. To paint a better picture, that’s around $150 million in future earnings. He even had to step down as chairman of his own foundation. But in the end, it wasn’t a total loss. After all, there is such a thing as disgrace insurance for his former sponsors. Cue rimshot.