Why celebrity endorsement doesn't always turn out how either party intended

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The Independent Online

NAKED CHEF STILL COOL WITH SAINSBURY'S

Britain's favourite mockney chef signed a £1m campaign for Sainsbury's in 2000. But within months of signing on the dotted line, he admitted that he used independent suppliers for his restaurant, saying "for any chef, supermarkets are like a factory". Rather than dump Oliver, Sainsbury's said that the Naked Chef's ads showed him in "a domestic setting" so his comments did not have any impact on his contract. Then Oliver's trouble and strife, Jools, was caught shopping at rival Waitrose, rather than at her local Sainsbury's.

Nevertheless, Oliver's ads were said to have boosted Sainsbury's fortunes by up to £1bn in 2002, and he signed a new £1.2m one-year contract last June.

BACARDI PUT VINNIE ON ICE

Vinnie Jones's conversion from testosterone-fuelled footballer to international celebrity was kicked off by his role in Guy Ritchie's 1998 Britflick Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Then Jones was signed by Bacardi in 2001 to star in a series of ads in which he featured as a fun-loving barman. But his employers were forced to take a serious look at the $210,000 (£120,410) deal when a drunk Jones reverted to form on a flight to Tokyo in May 2003: he repeatedly slapped one passenger and claimed he could have the whole plane killed. He was fined £1,100 and ordered to do 80 hours of community service for his airborne misdemeanours. Bacardi did not renew his contract in 2004.

JOHNSON LOSES HIS MAGIC TOUCH

Magic Johnson was one of the biggest basketball stars of the late Eighties and early Nineties. His announcement in 1991 that he had been diagnosed with HIV shocked basketball, America and the world. The public's reaction was complicated, too, by the news that Johnson had contracted the virus during an extramarital affair. At the time of his announcement, Johnson had lucrative endorsement deals with Converse, Spalding sports goods, Pepsi, Nestlé and KFC, worth an estimated $12m (£7m). Not one of those companies renewed contracts at the end of his retirement season in 1992. Even his successful 1996 comeback season didn't bring back his former sponsors, and it was not until July 2003 that Johnson secured a new deal, this time with the car manufacturer Lincoln Mercury.

MATERIAL GIRL'S FIZZ GOES FLAT

In 1989, Madonna was not only the biggest female pop star in the world; she was one of the first women truly to cash in on the celebrity endorsement dollar, in a $5m (£3m) deal with Pepsi. Trouble hit soon afterwards with the release of "Like a Prayer". The video featured sexual imagery and references to rape, racism and corruption within the Catholic Church. Conservative America was incensed, outraged Muslims turned against her and the Vatican was infuriated by the portrayal of Jesus as a black man. Then Pepsi pulled a TV commercial in which the song featured, and refused to sponsor her Blond Ambition tour. Madonna is now contracted to Time Warner.

LAKERS STAR CRASHES DOWN TO EARTH

The LA Lakers basketball star sponsored by McDonald's, Nike, Coca-Cola (as the face of Sprite), Spalding, Upper Deck and Ferrero (representing Nutella) in deals worth tens of millions. Then Bryant was brought to earth when he was arrested on rape charges in June 2003 following an accusation by a 19-year-old Colorado woman. Bryant denied the charges, and the criminal case against him collapsed in September 2004, and a subsequent civil case was settled in July 2005. Bryant's image as a devoted family man was tarnished, and his contracts started drying up. McDonald's and Ferrero did not renew their deals: Coca-Cola felt obliged to continue, having signed a five- year $40m (£23m) deal just days before the allegations surfaced.

SEX TEXTS DON'T STOP BECKS

Any other celebrity with a £4m contract to promote Brylcreem might have thought twice about shaving off the blond curtains that made him one of the most recognisable people on the planet - but not Beckham. In 2000, he chopped his locks off.

"There is nothing in his contract to say how he should look," a company spokesman said. "We have no plans to drop him as a result of his haircut." Brylcreem sales suffered an immediate dent of up to 25 per cent as a result.

Then, when the Rebecca Loos "sex texts" scandal broke in 2004, Vodafone thought long and hard about re-signing the England star. But re-sign him it did, to a two-year contract worth more than £1.5m a year. Golden Balls, it seems, can do no wrong.

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