There’s no avoiding celebrities nowadays, they seem to be everywhere. Loved and looked up to by millions, all over the world, their popularity means they can have a huge influence over people…and companies have found a way to capitalise on this. Paying celebrities to sponsor and sell their products often produces a huge jump in profits, but it can also have some hilarious consequences. Here are some of the most bizarre pieces of celebrity merchandise. How many would you be willing to pay for?
Famous Food and Drink
Using beloved characters and celebrities to sell food isn’t a new phenomenon, and for many it’s a chance to invest in a favourite product. Many celebs own alcohol companies including Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, and George Clooney. But there are many more celebrity drinks out there that will make you shake your head. Danny DeVito founded a Limoncello company as a result of a drunken interview where he blamed the drink for many of his weirder answers. Another drink to come from the experience of its founder is Lightning Bolt, an energy drink from actor, lawman and martial arts master Steven Seagal. Available in three Asian-inspired flavours, the drink seems to have amassed a cult following among Seagal fans worldwide and is available for purchase online in over 60 different countries.
Most people are aware of Paul Newman’s range of sauces and salad dressings, but did you know singer Kelis and punk rocker Dexter Holland (The Offspring) also have their own ranges? It seems that more celebrities are taking it upon themselves to influence not just how we look, but what we eat. Understandably eager to appeal to their younger fans, many have also put their faces – sometimes literally – on brands of sweets and chocolates. A set of One Direction Pez heads raised over £1800 for Comic Relief.
Weird Web Games
Adding a famous face to a product makes it stand out from the crowd and increases its appeal. In the saturated market of digital gaming, this can make all the different. Pro-athletes like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have lent their names to sports video games and celebrities Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry have mobile apps names after them. But those games are at least linked to their respective fields. Sometimes a celebrity pops up in a game with no explanation, except that they are so popular that their face will sell anything! Online slot machines try and appeal to a range of clients by offering designs across a range of different niches. Having famous people on the slots apparently gives players an added incentive to choose these machines over others.
Buying band t-shirts has been a major part of music fandom since the 1960s, but some of the items available today are downright weird. Beyonce, Rhianna, Cardi B and Taylor Swift all sell clothing tagged with their lyrics or famous quotes, but One Direction’s Zayn Malik has taken this trend to new levels of crazy. To publicise his new album, Icarus Falls, Zayn’s online store is selling, amongst other things, t-shirts showing the singer battling zombie and alien invasions. Although it tries to channel a retro vibe, it’s not exactly up there with classic album t-shirts like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
So many celebrities today have released perfume, aftershave or deodorant ranges that it’s almost become compulsory. But why stop there when there are so many other products in our bathroom that could be sponsored? Teen pop stars seem to be amongst some of the keenest celebrities to sell their faces without thinking about the products. Justin Bieber once sold a range of travel toiletries urging you to ‘get that Bieber smile today!’ And if a travel tongue scraper isn’t enough for you, you could also get his branded tooth flossers to keep your pearly whites white.
Strange Sports Stars
The shelf life of an athlete is relatively short, with many retiring from their sports before they hit their 40s. While they’ve often had plenty of time to save up, endorsements and sponsorship deals can provide extra income once their playing days are over, or even provide an extra boost while they are starting out. Did you know that once upon a time you could buy fish fingers with David Beckham’s face on the box?
One of the most famous weird celebrity merchandising moments has to be when George Foreman, the former Olympic medal-winning boxer, became the face of a table-top grill.
We’re used to it now, and his ‘lean, mean, grilling machines’ are commonplace in many households, but when they first hit the market it was one of the stranger pairings out there.
It’s easy for a celebrity to put their name to an existing household product or use clothes and accessories to promote their personal brand. But a few have taken it even further and decided to push a product that seems to defy all expectations of weirdness.
The rock band Kiss are famous for their loud music, unusual fashion sense and distinctive stage make-up. But in 2001 lead singer Gene Simmonds took rock’n’roll merchandising to new lows when he unveiled the Kiss Kasket; a coffin decorated with iconic band imagery.
They went off the market in 2008 but if you’re planning on spending eternity rocking with the greats, you can still find them in online auction sites.
Kiss aren’t the only rock stars to launch unusual products. Bill Wyman, bassist for legendary English band The Rolling Stones, has his own range of metal detectors, while another English group, Mötorhead, sell quite possibly the least metal drink ever – Shiraz! Their branded wine comes in red and rosé and is available from several national online retailers.
Savvy or Sell Out?
Not every celebrity is committed to hawking their image for extra cash. Many have invested in a side-project because it is something they are passionate about – like Terrence Howard’s range of gluten-free foods – or maybe they are trying to use their image to raise awareness – anyone remember when JLS promoted their own range of condoms? But having seen some of the products on this list you can’t help but wonder what on earth the celebrities involved were thinking when they signed on the dotted line.