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Rihanna's gig as the face of Nivea is over thanks to a CEO who thinks she's too wild. But she's far from the only big name to give conservative corporations cold feet
You'd think most companies would jump at the chance to have Rihanna as the face of their product, being one of the most talked about pop stars in the world and all. But skincare specialist Nivea has determined the Bahan beauty too raunchy to advertise its white goop. The brand's new CEO, Stefan Heidenreich, has dropped the singer, calling her a "no-go". "I do not understand how to bring the core brand of Nivea in conjunction with Rihanna. Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability," he said. Clearly Heidenreich found Rihanna's hard-partying ways and propensity for mistaking lingerie for actual clothes at odds with the company's rather more dull-sounding agenda.
"Discontinuing the association with her is also good PR for Nivea because it allows them to reiterate the values that they don't feel she aspires to," says Claire Beale, editor of Campaign. "Celebrity endorsements give brands an instant value to tap into and if you associate yourself with a big personality you'll instantly gain credibility with all the people that love that celebrity. The problem is celebrities often don't behave themselves."
While Rihanna's firing might seem somewhat unwarranted, there are plenty of other celebrities who have given good reason to be dismissed. Both Wrigley and the Milk Processor Education Program (that's the "Got Milk?" campaign to you) quite rightly terminated contracts with R&B performer Chris Brown after he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend (yep, Rihanna).
Fashion labels such as Chanel and Burberry quickly deserted Kate Moss after she was caught on camera allegedly snorting cocaine (although the entire industry has since done a U-turn after realising the supermodel is far too valuable to blacklist). Another star who must regret allegedly dabbling in drugs is Michael Phelps, who had a lucrative deal as the face of Kellogg's (despite everyone knowing that the swimmer chows down fried egg sandwiches, omelettes, French toast and pancakes for breakfast, not a sad little bowl of Corn Flakes). After pictures surfaced of the Olympian apparently puffing on a bong, the two soon parted ways.
Infidelity doesn't go down well with big business either. Wayne Rooney was dumped by Coca-Cola and Tiger beer after being caught cheating on a pregnant Coleen, while Tiger Woods' extra-marital escapades cost him not only his wife but deals with Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture and Gillette worth millions (although probably not quite as much as the divorce settlement).
And while cheating on partners is not appreciated by sponsors, celebrities should remember not to cheat on the product either. Just last month Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho had his sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola revoked after he turned up at a press conference sipping on a Pepsi. A can of fizzy drink is usually about 60 pence; this one cost £500,000.
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