8 stars whose endorsement deals went sour

Scarlett Johansson's not the first star to see significant blowback after an endorsement. Here are seven more

Topics: slideshow, Scarlett Johansson, Oxfam, Justin Timberlake, Wal-Mart, sodastream, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Editor's Picks,

8 stars whose endorsement deals went sour

Scarlett Johansson’s hardly the first star to see controversy bubble up over an endorsement.

The generally agreeable “Her” actress found herself forced out of a charitable-ambassador gig as an unexpected political controversy bloomed over a product she endorses. She’s one of a number of celebrities who signed on to an endorsement deal hoping to get some face time on TV and a little cash on the side and ended up losing face and fans. Take heart, Scarlett — some of these stars were able to get over the complications that teaming up with a corporation can throw one’s way.

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    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Scarlett Johansson for SodaStream

    It’s old news by now -- Johansson gave up her ambassador work for Oxfam as it conflicted with her endorsement of a product manufactured in the occupied West Bank territories. It’s a rare black eye for a generally P.R.-conscious movie star -- whose Super Bowl ad (banned from the air for mocking Coke and Pepsi) had been treated initially as a P.R. win, and whose Oxfam work had helped cast her in a socially conscious light.

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Kristin Davis for Ahava

    Scarlett’s such a Charlotte! Before Johansson, the “Sex and the City” star was also let go by Oxfam for her 2009 endorsement of a makeup line manufactured in the West Bank. However, she was only suspended by the charity -- and it was the makeup line that gave her the boot. Davis maintained she was unaware of the conflict.

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Beyoncé for Pepsi

    The Pepsi endorsement has historically been somewhat cursed -- Beyoncé’s only the most recent victim. Her lucrative deal came in for much criticism by anti-obesity advocates, especially in light of the pop singer’s own work for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Before Beyoncé, there was Ludacris (canned by the soft-drink manufacturer after Bill O’Reilly urged a national Pepsi boycott over rap lyrics), Madonna (let go over the content of her “Like a Prayer” video) and Britney Spears (spotted drinking Coke during her endorsement period).

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift for Wal-Mart

    OK, so they aren’t quite full-throated endorsers -- but these are just two of the many celebrities whose appearances at Wal-Mart shareholders’ meetings is the contemporary equivalent of appearing on TV ads in Japan. Stars are well-compensated for flying to Arkansas to sing and to lecture Wal-Mart employees about just how humane and worthy a corporation is Sam Walton’s -- and many keep footage of their appearances offline. This isn’t a scandal -- but it should be!

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Kat Von D for Sephora

    The makeup chain had to apologize in fall 2013 after it released the celebrity tattoo artist’s diffusion line of makeup -- including a lipstick named, for reasons obscure, “Celebutard.” It wasn’t a good look -- but Von D’s products, despite the flap, are still available at the Sephora website.

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Lance Armstrong for Nike

    The list of celebrities who’ve gotten a public boot from their endorsements following controversy is long and predictable. Everyone from Kate Moss to Tiger Woods has seen their bank accounts take a hit following negative media exposure -- but not all lost their place at a charitable foundation formed in association with an endorsement deal. One almost feels bad for Lance Armstrong, whose Livestrong Foundation was underpinned by the myth of his natural athletic prowess, and whose revealed steroid use raised Nike’s ire.

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    Kiefer Sutherland for Jose Cuervo

    Kiefer Sutherland, beloved “24” star, is the quintessential action hero and male archetype. He’d be the perfect pitchman for an alcoholic spirit -- if he hadn’t already done jail time for drunk driving and, later, attacked a fashion designer after the Met Ball.

    Stars whose endorsements turned sour

    The Kardashians for Kardashian Kard

    The three Kardashian sisters have given their names and likenesses to liquor brands and to Sears, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary when, in 2010, they vouched for a prepaid debit card that featured monthly fees, a $1.50 withdrawal fee, and a $1 fee just for checking your balance. After it was criticized as predatory, the sisters distanced themselves; only 250 people signed up for the doomed product.

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Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

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