It’s no secret that some celebrities make bank by appearing in commercials. From savvy self-marketers like Sofia Vergara, whose endorsements earn her a spot on the highest-paid actresses list every year, to mega-watt Hollywood stars appearing in overseas ads, smart celebrities find ways to pad the bottom line while still maintaining their own brands. We picked out some of the best celebrity commercials to reminisce on.
Sometimes, the opposite happens and now-famous faces get their start in commercials. We’ll be taking a look at some of the best, most memorable—and occasionally most embarrassing—celebrity commercials.
Anne Hathaway & Zendaya for Bulgari
This Bulgari commercial starring Anne Hathaway and Zendaya just dropped, and people are already obsessed with it. Are they in love? Are they magic? Are these the most beautiful jewels I’ve ever seen?
Whatever universe these ladies are living in, it’s one that I want to visit. Fans are already calling on Hathaway and Zendaya to star in a full-length movie together because of this ad. They certainly wear jewels and gowns well, don’t they? While I’m very unlikely to ever purchase a diamond and emerald necklace, I now really want one. Good job, ladies.
Kendall Jenner for Pepsi
This ad was such a massive misstep that Pepsi actually pulled the commercial. Kendall Jenner’s 2017 Pepsi promo appeared to trivialize the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately for Kendall and Pepsi, the internet is forever. Even though they pulled the commercial from the airwaves, you can still watch it online.
The brand offered an apology afterward:
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/pepsi-ad-kendall-jenner-echoes-black-lives-matter-sparks-anger-n742811
Ryan Reynolds for Push Pop
Good luck getting “You Gotta Be Hip to the Pop” out of your head! Before he was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars (and smartest investors), Ryan Reynolds was just a wee Canadian lad starring in this commercial for Push Pop.
Luckily for all of us, Reynolds’ commercial game has gotten a lot better since then. His ads for Mint Mobile—a company he owns, not just represents—regularly go viral. He even got Rick Moranis to come out of retirement to appear in this one.
Margaret Qualley for Kenzo
The moment that I saw this bonkers commercial for Kenzo World, I knew that Margaret Qualley was something special. The actress and dancer displays a range of emotions, from deep sadness to rage to unhinged amusement. It’s a really weird commercial, as you might expect from director Spike Jonze. Qualley would go on to have a small role in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood as well as portraying famed dancer Ann Reinking in Fosse/Verdon. She’s currently starring as Alex Russell in Maid and has just been cast as Ginger Rogers opposite Jamie Bell as Fred Astaire.
George Clooney for Nespresso
You might think that George Clooney’s fortune comes from his string of blockbuster hits. But… you’d be wrong. Clooney’s enduring partnership with Nespresso is one of the most lucrative endorsements ever. He’s made an estimated $40 million from his Nespresso ads since 2006, but don’t think that he’ll shill for just any old company.
Clooney told The Guardian about one role he was happy to turn down:
“I was offered $35m for one day’s work for an airline commercial, but I talked to Amal about it and we decided it’s not worth it. It was [associated with] a country that, although it’s an ally, is questionable at times, and so I thought: ‘Well, if it takes a minute’s sleep away from me, it’s not worth it.’”
Anthony Stewart Head for Taster’s Choice
Before he was Buffy’s mentor, our man Giles was romancing an upper-class lady in this series of Taster’s Choice commercials. What’s interesting about these commercials is that they told a serialized story. It started with Anthony Stewart Head as “Michael” loaning an unnamed neighbor (played by Sharon Maughan) a cup of coffee. Their slow-burn relationship played out over a series of 13 commercials from 1990 to 1997.
Unfortunately, the ads ended on a cliffhanger, and audiences never found out of Michael and his lady love ended up together.
Matt Damon for Crypto.Com
Matt Damon’s ad for the cryptocurrency exchange crypto.com didn’t exactly go over well. Internet commentary was overwhelmingly negative, not just among disgruntled fans on social media but also from financial analysts. Beyond the questionable advice to invest in cryptocurrency, which saw its value plummet over recent months, there’s also the fact that “mining” the digital currency consumes a vast amount of energy. For an actor who previously championed environmental causes to embrace crypto for a paycheck seemed like more than just selling out. It seemed like hypocrisy.
The multi-millionaire Oscar-winning actor encouraged viewers to take a risk and invest in cryptocurrency, likening it to climbing a mountain or traveling into space. “Fortune favors the brave,” he says, but unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily favor crypto investors.
Dean Winters for Allstate
Although Dean Winters was a working character actor in Hollywood before his series of Allstate commercials, his performance as “Mayhem” made him into a viral sensation. Winters appeared as Dennis Duffy on 30 Rock and as “The Vulture” on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He also had a run of 31 episodes on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit over 10 years and a small part in John Wick.
We nearly lost him in 2009, before he became famous as Mayhem, when a bacterial infection sent him into cardiac arrest. He lost several toes and part of his thumb, and he had to spend three weeks in the ICU. The experience left him with chronic pain, but that hasn’t slowed down his career as an actor.
Robin Williams for ‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’
In 2011, Robin Williams promoted Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. That might seem like a random pairing, but Williams was actually obsessed with the game. In fact, he named his daughter Zelda! She appears with him in another commercial in this series, but I adored this straightforward origin story narrated by the legendary actor and comedian.
It’s bittersweet to see his kindly, smiling face now and hear his familiar voice. Commercials really shouldn’t make you cry.
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Matthew McConaughey for Lincoln
If the commercial reminds you of a movie, then you won’t be surprised to learn that it was directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, the director of Drive and The Neon Demon. The stunning cinematography, paired with McConaughey’s laconic narration, gives this ad a surreal feeling. It aired the same year he appeared in True Detective, the series that helped break his goofy “all right, all right, all right” image in Hollywood. These ads were unscripted, so his monologue is straight off the dome:
“Sometimes you need to go back to actually move forward. And I don’t mean going back to reminisce or chase ghosts. I mean going back to see where you came from, where you been, how you got here, see where you’re going. I know there are those that say you can’t go back. Yes you can. You just have to look in the right place.”
Debra Messing for Clairol Natural Instincts
Debra Messing starred in this 90s commercial for hair dye long before she shot to fame on Will & Grace. I distinctly remember seeing this commercial on TV when I was a kid, but I didn’t realize it was Debra Messing until recently. She’d continue to have a relationship with the brand even as her star rose, appearing in a “Nice ‘n Easy” ad in 2000. Even though she’s one of Hollywood’s most famous redheads, Messing is actually a brunette. No word on whether she uses Clairol products to achieve her fiery locks, though.
Danny Trejo for Snickers (with Bonus Steve Buscemi)
Snickers created a brilliant ad campaign with the slogan “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” It opened the doors for a series of incredible commercials with big-name celebrities, including Betty White and Robin Williams, playing against type to show being snacky can make you wacky.
My favorite of the bunch is this parody of The Brady Bunch, where Danny Trejo steps into the role of Marcia Brady. After he turns back into Marcia, we see Steve Buscemi as Jan throwing a tantrum. I don’t know that it makes me want a Snickers… but only because I pretty much always want a Snickers.
Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews for Old Spice
Are you an Isaiah fan or a Terry fan? Isaiah Mustafa made a splash as “The Old Spice Guy” with his smooth-talking commercials for deodorant and body spray. The commercials got increasingly surreal, especially when the two handsome, muscular spokesmen started to battle each other.
In addition to his career as a football player, Terry Crews appeared in the all-too-prescient Mike Judge movie Idiocracy as President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Camacho. He also co-starred on Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the entire run of the series. Mustafa portrayed Luke Garroway in the TV adaptation of Shadowhunters for three seasons, and he has multiple guest-starring credits to his name.