We know it's hard to believe, but some celebrities will do anything for a buck. That sometimes means signing on to promote a product that has absolutely nothing to do with their public personas. Here are nine examples of especially bizarre product endorsements.
1. Joe Namath // Beautymist Pantyhose
In 1974, Super Bowl MVP and New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath shaved his legs and put on Hanes Beautymist pantyhose for a national commercial. “Now, I don’t wear pantyhose," Broadway Joe said in the TV spot. “But if Beautymist can make my legs look good, imagine what they’ll do for yours.” The commercial was considered risqué and controversial at the time, but sales of Beautymist pantyhose skyrocketed, and Namath became an in-demand spokesman.
In 1999, Namath told Newsweek he was game from the moment he saw the concept. "They came with ad storyboards to our office, and I got a laugh out of it," he recalled. "When they get up to me, I'm wearing green shorts and a football jersey … I just said, 'Let's go with our gut feeling. It's humor. I can handle the heat.' And it was a lot of fun, though when I looked at it, my stomach turned. I didn't like anything about the way I looked.”
2. Bob Dylan // Victoria's Secret
In 2004, viewers were bewildered when a Victoria's Secret commercial featuring rock icon Bob Dylan aired during American Idol. The lingerie company had already used Dylan's music in previous ads, and one day, CEO Les Wexner asked him if he'd like to be in a commercial himself. Funny enough, in a 1965 interview, Dylan was asked what might make him sell out. His reply: "Ladies' undergarments."
3. Muhammad Ali // d-Conn Roach Traps
In the late '70s and early '80s, at the height of his popularity as boxing's Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali agreed to endorse d-Conn Roach Traps. He was featured in television commercials, in print ads (which featured the line "I think they are beautiful. ‘Specially since my picture is on the box!") and on the boxes of traps themselves.
5. and 6. Penelope and Monica Cruz, Helen Mirren // Nintendo
In 2012, Penelope Cruz and younger sister Monica appeared in a commercial for New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS XL. The advertisement featured some good old-fashioned sibling rivalry as the actresses raced through the video game as Mario and Luigi. Penelope lost, and had to keep up her end of the bet by cosplaying as the mustachioed Mario.
Helen Mirren appeared in a series of commercials for the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus in 2010. "Nintendo insisted they wanted Helen and no one else," a friend of Mirren's told MSN News. "They wanted an older, more attractive woman to show that the Wii isn't just for children."
7. Snoop Dogg // Norton Antivirus
In 2010, cybersecurity company Norton Antivirus launched a hip new ad campaign called “Hack Is Wack” featuring Snoop Dogg. Snoop called on his fans to film themselves rapping about hacking, identity theft, computer viruses, and cybersecurity. All videos were available on the Hack is Wack website before Norton Antivirus took it down later that year. The winner of the contest got the chance to meet Snoop Dogg’s management team—but not the rapper himself—and the opportunity to have Snoop Dogg rap on their song. Although the contest and marketing campaign was a complete flop, about 200 videos were submitted for consideration.
8. Mikhail Gorbachev // Pizza Hut
In 1997, Mikhail Gorbachev appeared in an internationally televised commercial for Pizza Hut. The TV spot featured the Soviet Union's former president enjoying a pizza with his then-10-year-old granddaughter Anastasia, while a dining room full of Russian Pizza Hut patrons talked about the president's legacy. The statesman agreed to appear in the spot to help fund his Gorbachev Foundation, an international research organization.
But why Pizza Hut? Apparently Gorbachev believes in the power of pizza to bring people together. "It's an important part of life," he wrote in a statement. "It's not only consumption, it's also socializing. If I didn't see that it was beneficial for people, I wouldn't have agreed to it."
9. Brad Pitt // Chanel No. 5
In 2012, Brad Pitt had people all over the world scratching their heads after he appeared in a strange commercial, directed by British filmmaker Joe Wright, for the women's fragrance Chanel No. 5. “No. 5 is the most iconic fragrance of our time, and Brad Pitt is the most iconic actor of our time,” Chanel CEO Maureen Chiquet explained to Vanity Fair. “Women in every culture love No 5. No matter where you are, No. 5 is there.”
The commercial sparked a ton of Internet parodies and memes, but nothing seemed to faze Pitt, who defended the TV spot. "I've been overseas, so I've been blissfully protected [from the backlash]," he told Access Hollywood. "I haven't [seen the parodies], but I say absolutely fair play, fair play. I kind of liked it … I respect what they do. They do some really quality things."