When Hollywood stars added shock value with controversial ads
Deliberate or otherwise, several celebrities court controversy because of the commercials they choose to be a part of
Controversies are a part and parcel of a celebrity's life. Recently, Nicole Kidman, who has served as the UN Goodwill Ambassador for women since 2006, recently became the face of Etihad Airways and courted controversy. In a statement, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) has criticised Kidman for her association with the company, citing reports that Etihad has fired women for becoming pregnant and forced flight attendants to live in confined compounds.
"We urge you, on behalf of the women and girls that you spoke of so eloquently (on International Women's Day), not to play a part in promoting Etihad Airways, a company that imposes abusive labour practices on its female employees and whose sole owner is a government that stands against the very world that you imagine,"the statement read. The actresses' spokesman remained unavailable for comment. Time and again, several celebrities' choice of ads has landed them amidst controversies. We tell you about few of them:
The Keeping up with the Kardashians actress along with her sister Kourtney starred in a commercial of diet pills and claimed that the pills helped them lose weight. A few months later, four customers claimed that Kardashian sisters were making false claims and demanded five million dollars in damages for the deceptive marketing. According to these customers, the diet pills' main ingredient, caffeine, was not recognised as a safe or effective weight loss product by the Food and Drug Administration.
Perhaps painting your face brown and speaking in an offensive accent is not the best way to sell chips. In a commercial for a potato chip brand, Kutcher appears as four different characters — a fashionista, a stoner, a biker and a Bollywood producer. In the part where he plays the Bollywood producer, Raj, the actor talks about his dating virtues in a sing-song accent with his face painted brown and the chips brand is not promoted at any point during this segment. The makers and the actor received a lot of backlash especially from the Indian- Americans and eventually the ad ran without the Indian segment.
Swift is not a controversy's child but in 2011, a mascara ad she was a part of was pulled because of excessive photoshopping. The National Advertising Division (NAD) didn't appreciate the ad's implied claims that buyers "would get lashes like those depicted in the advertisement and that the lashes depicted in the photograph were achieved solely by using [the mascara]…without post-production enhancement." To the controversy, the representative of the product that Swift was endorsing said, "As soon as we were aware that the NAD had concerns, we voluntarily discontinued the advertising."
A soft-drink company pulled a 30-second commercial featuring the rapper Ludacris after his lyrics in the ad were said to glamourise a "life of guns, violence, drugs and disrespect of women". The controversy resurfaced after the drink brand decided to run commercials featuring Ozzy Osbourne who is known for explicit lyrics and profanity. Eventually, an agreement was reached which resulted in the drink brand donating $3 million to Ludacris' foundation and other inner city charities. The company offered to re-shoot some of Ludacris' ads, but the rapper declined.
Fanning created quite a stir in June 2011 over her ads for a perfume brand. Reason? The ad had Fanning sit with an oversized perfume bottle placed between her legs. It was deemed "sexually provocative" by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority and subsequently banned in England. When asked if she was shocked or was expecting such a result, the actress had said, "I was shocked! If you want to read something into a perfume bottle, then I guess you can. But it's also like, Why are you making it about that, you creep? I love Marc and trust him, and we just laughed about it."
The Baywatch Star's ad for a animal welfare organisation sparked huge debate. The advertisement showcased Anderson clad in a bikini with her body labelled with words associated with cuts of meat. While she promoted vegetarianism, it was criticised for being "sexist".
Her advertisement against domestic violence in 2009 for Women's Aid was too 'violent' for TV and hence was banned. The 'disturbing' ad showed Knightley being kicked by her violent boyfriend. Charities that worked towards curbing the menace branded the decision by the ad approval body, "pathetic", arguing that, in banning the advert, it is shielding the public from the reality of domestic violence. Knightley, however, refused to comment on the matter.
Mendes appeared in an apparel brand's ad in 2008 and like several other advertisements of the same brand, became the talk of the town. The ad was banned in US networks because it was too racy and showed 'a little too much' of her nipple. The supermodel however was proud of the ad and said that she is loved the fact that it was banned. She said, "That means the ads are totally what the brand is known for, totally provocative and a little controversial."