7 Controversial Celebrity Endorsements

A health advocacy group has called on pop star Beyonce Knowles-Carter to end a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with PepsiCo Inc., saying the singer shouldn’t support unhealthy products.

She’s the latest celebrity to draw criticism over endorsement deals and product lines, joining the likes of Kathie Lee Gifford and Kim Kardashian.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest this week called on Beyonce to rethink her $50 million deal with PepsiCo because consuming sugary drinks like soda has been linked to obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, and other health issues.

Beyonce’s Pepsi deal was announced earlier this month by the soda maker. Neither the singer’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, nor PepsiCo could be reached for comment.

“Your image is one of success, health, talent, fitness, and glamour,” CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson wrote in the letter to the pop star. “But by lending your name and image to PepsiCo, you are associating your positive attributes with a product that is quite literally sickening Americans. We doubt that PepsiCo would spend $50 million unless it was confident that it could recoup many more times that amount…”

“…I imagine that it must be hard for anyone to turn away $50 million,” he wrote.

Jacobson urged Beyonce to donate the money to charity if she continues with the deal, which includes performing during the halftime show at the National Football League’s Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks, juice drinks, and soda comprises the largest source of added sugar in the diets of America’s youth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Beyonce isn’t the first, nor likely to be the last, celebrity to hawk a product that’s been criticized. Endorsements are windfalls for celebs and can boost a company’s bottom line. Let’s take a look at some more questionable products that have gotten celebrity backing:

Kim Kardashian and banned diet pills

The reality TV star has been backing QuickTrim Suppress and Burn diet pills as a way to help lose weight, but the pills were banned in Australia after their effectiveness and safety were questioned.

Kardashian and her sister Khloe also were named in a class action lawsuit this year over their backing of QuickTrim, according to EntertainmentWise.com. The lawsuit claims the dietary supplement is ineffective and unhealthy.

Nelly’s Pimp Juice

The hip hop star sold this version of a non-carbonated energy drink inspired by his song of the same name.

The drink quickly drew the ire of African American groups who said the drink degraded women, said Fox News. Nelly defended the beverage, which is no longer available.

Kathie Lee’s clothing

Kathie Lee Gifford has been blasted more than once for allegedly using factories with horrible working conditions to make her clothing line in the 1990s.

The TV talk show host first pledged to end labor abuse, then several years later more allegations of bad work conditions surfaced. Gifford decried the complaints, saying critics should go after the sweatshops, not her, according to eonline.com.

Then there’s the celebrity endorsement deals the companies later wish they didn’t make.

Sure, companies love their celebrities when regular people like you and me buy their products. The love turns cold when the celebrity does something to fall out of favor – like getting arrested. Here are some cases when the company’s opinions about its endorser turned sour…

Pepsi and Madonna

The beverage company is no stranger to controversy with its celebrity endorsers.

In 1989, PepsiCo paid Madonna more than $5 million to use her song “Like a Prayer” in a commercial aired during the quintessential family TV program, “The Cosby Show.”

The company didn’t view Madonna’s controversial music video for the song before using it in its spot and pulled the ad after a Catholic bishop called for a product boycott, said BusinessInsider.com.

Kate Moss and Chanel

The supermodel lost millions in endorsement contracts after British tabloids printed photos of her apparently snorting cocaine.

Moss lost deals with H&M, Burberry, and Chanel after the Daily Mirror released those photos, the Chicago Tribune said.

Tiger Woods and AT&T

After his publicized sex scandal, pro golfer Tiger Woods lost deals with AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade, and luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer.

Lance Armstrong and Nike

After sponsoring the cycling great for more than a decade, Nike called it quits with Armstrong this fall after a report detailed allegations of doping.

Despite accusations throughout his career, Armstrong denied cheating and pointed to clean drug tests, said the L.A. Times.

After it released the report, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins and banned him from competition.

Nike has been known to hang in there with its tarnished stars – the company stood by Tiger Woods.

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