Celebs who lost major endorsement deals

Thanks to Jerry Maguire, we all know that an endorsement deal with a big brand is what separates a star from a superstar — particularly in the world of sports. Which is why Michael Phelps losing his Kellog's deal, Ryan Lochte losing four sponsors in a day, and Lance Armstrong having to walk away from a charitable organization he founded were all huge stories. But actors and musicians also get in on the celebrity endorsement game. And some of them have fumbled their deals just as badly as their athletic counterparts. Here are the celebs who lost major endorsement deals. 

Tiger Woods

Yes, we know, who hasn't heard of Tiger Woods well-documented fall from grace, right? It was widely reported that in 2010 alone, Tiger Woods lost $22 million in endorsement deals in the wake of the infidelity scandal that ruined his marriage. But as of January 2017, Forbes reported that Woods was still raking in an estimated $45.5 million from endorsements and sponsorships from companies like Nike, Rolex, and Kowa, a Japanese pharmaceutical company that makes pain medicine. That last one might prove to be particularly problematic in light of Woods' latest scandal — a DUI arrest in which he admitted to "an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications." Which would be like Jennifer Garner getting busted for credit card fraud. As of this writing, Woods hasn't been dropped by any of his corporate partners, be we can't imagine it's going to be much longer before the fallout begins.

Alec Baldwin

For five years, Alec Baldwin was the face of Capital One Bank. He took the already successful "What's In Your Wallet?" campaign and added the star power that turns commercials into lasting cultural reference points. But then in November of 2013, Baldwin was accused of, and eventually admitted to using gay slurs towards the paparazzi during an altercation that was captured on video. The incident was the last of several public scandals Baldwin suffered that year which led him to pen the now-ironically-titled essay, "Good-bye, Public Life," for Vulture.

In the essay, Baldwin details the fallout from what he calls "the TMZ event." "When 30 Rock went into syndication, I sensed that I was going to be on TV for a bit, so I crafted my arrangement with Capital One Bank to fund my foundation for charitable giving. They paid me $15 million over nearly five years. After taxes and accounting fees, I will have given all of it, $14.125 million, to charity. After the TMZ event, Capital One did not renew my contract, although it politely said the two things were unrelated. AT&T had booked me for a paid speech in Orlando—and then canceled. WNYC lost funding for my radio show," Baldwin wrote. He goes on to accept some responsibility for the incident, but ultimately stuck to his position that public life has become impossible for celebrities. Which is true, especially for stars whose reflex insult is to scream "c**ksucking f*g" at the top of their lungs. It's a common problem. 

Charlie Sheen

You're probably thinking, "Wait, companies don't want their brand associated with an unabashed drug and prostitute aficionado? Get outta town!" And though it's tough to picture it now, there was a pre-tiger blood Charlie Sheen whose badboy image was merely limited to domestic violence back then. In fact, it was his 2009 Christmas Day arrest for "an alleged scuffle" with his then-wife Brooke Mueller that caused Hanes to pull the plug on the popular ad campaign Sheen starred in alongside Michael Jordan, according to People. "We suspended the commercials on Dec. 28," a Hanes spokesperson said. "Some were seen on the 25th, 26th, 27th as we could not reach the networks over the holiday weekend."

Amazingly, as Sheen's low points continued to leapfrog through the spring of 2011, advertisers continually reached out to him, eventually resulting in several merchandising and marketing deals, including one with Live Nation which he celebrated by waving a machete at the paparazzi from the roof of their company headquarters. What's the lesson here? We have no clue, and for some reason we feel really depressed now.  

Ludacris

Back in 2002, then-Fox News star Bill O'Reilly launched a successful campaign to get Pepsi to drop an ad featuring rapper Ludacris. According to MTV, after O'Reilly called Ludacris a "thug rapper who espouses violence, intoxication, and degrading conduct toward women," it only took one day for the soft drink giant to shelf the rapper's commercial. Ludacris denounced the decision, saying, "At one time, I helped Pepsi to navigate their product through the inner-city communities that are vital to their sales. Over the past few days I have rethought my approach as to how I do business and retained a team to … take the power back for the good of the hip-hop community. Oh, and [one more thing]: Players govern players. Spectators form opinions." O'Reilly applauded Pepsi's decision, but also said, "Americans should let the merchants of bad taste know that hiring corrupters and incompetents is not acceptable." Of course, that later proved to be the height of irony when multiple high-profile scandals caused advertisers to flee the conservative pundit's show. Which brings us to…   

Bill O'Reilly

After The New York Times exposed quiet settlements that 21st Century Fox and/or Bill O'Reilly paid out to five women over allegations of sexual harassment, advertisers started pulling their support for The O'Reilly Factor. In what was continually referred to as a "mass exodus," over 50 advertisers quickly pulled their ads from the show. The Huffington Post ran a comprehensive list of the companies and their statements regarding their decision to part ways with O'Reilly, like Mercedes-Benz, who called the allegations "disturbing" and also said, "We don't feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now."

After O'Reilly was fired, people couldn't wait to hear from Ludacris, who just had to be out there laughing himself to death, right? Wrong. Well, at least publicly, Luda "went high" instead. "It's not my place to judge Bill O'Reilly the same way that he judged me," the "Area Codes" rapper told Power 105.1's "The Breakfast Club" (via Newsweek.) "That's how I feel about it. It's a lot of maturity and a lot of growth. I've moved on past it. I'm thriving in life right now, and all I can do is hope that Bill O'Reilly settles these issues and learns from whatever mistakes he may have made and also thrives," he continued. Powerful. So, is that what he meant by "players govern players"? Because we still don't get that part.  

Kathy Griffin

What would it take to get a company whose product specializes in helping people poo more comfortably to sever ties with a celebrity? Pretending to decapitate the President of the United States did the trick for comedian Kathy Griffin, whose promotional spot for Squatty Potty was pulled after her ill-advised attempt at making an artistic statement with the help of her friend, photographer Tyler Shields. In their statement regarding the controversy, Squatty Potty wrote, "We were shocked and disappointed to learn about the image Ms. Griffin shared today, it was deeply inappropriate and runs contrary to the core values our company stands for." 

As Business Insider points out, that's a significant shift from the company's previous excitement over their partnership with irreverent Griffin, which included their opinion that "she's the only person who could possibly get away with telling people that they may be literally 'full of s**t.'" Well, she's also now the leading authority on how not to use fake blood, wigs, and masks, so maybe the Halloween Mega Store could use her? 

Sean Hannity

Like his fallen fellow pundit, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News host Sean Hannity faced fleeing advertisers in the wake of his controversial support of a conspiracy theory surrounding the death of former DNC staffer, Seth Rich. Though Rich died in what police have said they believed was a "failed robbery attempt," Hannity and others on the far-right have latched onto a theory that ties Hillary Clinton's campaign to Rich's death over his alleged (though many times debunked) connection to the campaign emails dumped by Wikileaks. Hannity's refusal to back away from the theory, even after repeated requests by Rich's grieving parents, has led to a few of his advertisers to pull their ads from the show.

According to Forbes, "Cars.com, mattress companies Casper and Leesa Sleep, the military financial services firm USAA, and video doorbell company Ring," have all split, but most of Hannity's other advertisers are sticking with him, including Mercedes-Benz, who ditched O'Reilly, but hung in with Hannity, because "we do not pull our ads based on editorial content." So, it's unlikely that Hannity will suffer the same fate as O'Reilly, and we look forward to Mercedes-Benz looking the other way when he starts supporting the Flat Earth Theory and how chemtrails are controlling our minds. 

Rush Limbaugh

It's kind of amazing how advertisers haven't learned the lesson that maybe their money is better spent not financing guys who make a living spouting controversial political opinions. One of the originators of that format, Rush Limbaugh, was also a predecessor of the the mass advertiser exit following his disparaging remarks towards college student Sandra Fluke, whom he branded "a 'slut' and a 'prostitute” in response to her testimony before Congress "in favor of having birth control covered under insurance plans," according to ABC News.

When news agencies started reporting that advertisers were leaving his show, Limbaugh suggested that "as many as 18,000 companies could be advertising on any one of the 600 or so stations that broadcast his three-hour radio program," which led to this thoughtful analogy by the brash talk radio vet: "ABC News, who understands how this works and are purposely misrepresenting it, is out there ballyhooing that we have lost 28 sponsors. Twenty-eight sponsors out of 18,000! That's like losing a couple of french fries in the container when it's delivered to you at the drive-thru. You don't even notice it." So how did advertisers enjoy being compared to Rush Limbaugh's fast food lunch? A quick look at how his 2016 contract renewal compared to his unprecedented one from 2008 is all that's needed to answer that question.

Rihanna

In 2011, Rihanna was featured in a bunch of ads for Nivea, that is, until a new head honcho of the lotion maker's parent company, Beiersdorf, pulled the plug. According to The Daily Mail, CEO Stefan Heidenreich said "The advert starring Rihanna was a no go. I do not understand how Nivea can be brought into association with Rihanna," adding, "Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability." Rihanna responded by posting a photo of Heidenreich to Twitter with the caption, "No caption necessary," which is vague but somehow hilarious anyway. Even more hilarious is the fact that a quick Google search for "Rihanna Nivea ads" shows that she was naked in some of them. So, we wonder which brand value — trust, family, or reliability — the photographer had in mind when he asked her to take her top off. 

Chris Brown

After his vicious 2009 attack on then-girlfriend Rihanna, which left her with "bruises, cuts and what appeared to be bite marks on her body," Chris brown lost endorsement deals with both Body by Milk's Milk Mustache campaign and Wrigley's Doublemint Gum, according to E! News.

The "Kiss Kiss" singer's previously "squeaky-clean reputation" would never reemerge, as Brown would continue to rack up assault charges, probation violations, drug charges, more assault charges, and weapons charges over the next eight years, all of which only ever resulted in Brown serving less than one month in jail and some community service. Considering those relatively light penalties for the assault on Rihanna, not to mention the plethora of other awful, violent things he's done over the years, losing the opportunity to dance around in a milk mustache doesn't seem all that bad. 

Teyana Taylor

You wouldn't think something as petty as a social media beef couldn't lead to a celebrity losing an endorsement deal, but that's exactly what happened when Rihanna and Teyana Taylor went at it via Twitter. It started when Rihanna posted a video of a male friend mocking a previous video Taylor had posted to Instagram. From there, it spiraled into a full blown beef in which Rihanna seemed to indicate that Taylor owed her money, and Taylor suggested that Rihanna had slept her way to the top.

But the real outrage, which sparked a change.org petition to get Taylor removed from her Adidas-Reebok deal, was from her use of the actual leaked evidence photo of Rihanna's bruised and bloodied face from the Chris Brown incident. That photo was superimposed onto a boxer's body, with Taylor's face placed over the opponent, which many viewed as a mockery of the assault Rihanna endured. In a statement to Madame Noire, a rep for the sneaker company wrote, "All I can say is that adidas partners with athletes and artists who blend well with our brand values. We evaluate our relationships with partners based on the values we hold at adidas and we don't condone violence of any kind." Taylor, seemingly unapologetic, responded on Twitter (via International Business Times) with, "Hey haters, imma let yall finish but I had the fastest sellin adidas of all time. #HandsMicBack&WalksOffStage  #Kanyeshrug #ImSleepTho" Nope, she didn't miss the point of what happened there at all. 

Lindsay Lohan

Like in Charlie Sheen's case, it's easy to look back in hindsight and ask why any company would risk putting their profits in the hands of Lindsay Lohan. But major brands like Jill Stuart and ProActiv once shelled out major cash for her endorsement. Amazingly, it was a fledgeling apparel company called Odaingerous that decided to part ways with Lohan amidst her well-publicized fall from grace. According to Radar Online, the final straw for CEO Odain Watson, who retracted the company's reported $500,000 endorsement agreement that would have made Lohan the face of the brand, was Lohan's conviction in the DUI incident in which she struck a truck with her rented Porsche. Watson said, "We held off on our upcoming promotional campaign due to the uncertainty of Ms. Lohan, but have decided to move forward and will soon announce the name of the Odaingerous face and continue the world of living Odaingerously." That's right, a company who uses phrases like "the world of living Odaingerously" wanted nothing to do with LiLo. Ouch. 

Wendy Williams

Remember what we said up there about not understanding how advertisers didn't think they'd get burned by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly? Well, ditto for Wendy Williams, because this is a person who not only lives for gossip, but it is also known for her outspoken (and not necessarily well-researched) positions on everything. According to Page Six, the latter of which caused major show sponsor Chevy to walk after she decided to tackle the issue of racism by musing about why the NAACP exists, and not understanding how "historically black colleges" are a thing. Wow.

Not surprisingly, that did not go over well with Chevy, or perhaps more importantly, as the Love B. Scott blog points out, with Andrea Holmes Thompkins, who as President and CEO of ACE Media Corp likely arranged the Chevy deal, and who also happens to be a Howard University alum. Whoops. Some advice, Wendy. Stick to "spilling the tea" on the Kardashians or whatever, and leave race relations in America to people who have thought about it for more than 30 seconds.