There's nothing new about celebrities lending their name to a product in exchange for a fat wad of cash. Or, less frequently, because it's just out-and-out cool. James Bond will forever by synonymous with Aston Martin and Omega watches. There's even a carefully placed line in Casino Royale where JB corrects Bond-girl Vesper who assumes he's wearing a Rolex which he previously did pre-Goldeneye, as it happens, along with a Seiko for some of the time. But my latest bout of snorting at the telly is due to two celebs lending their name to products for no possible reason other than they would have got a shed load of dosh for doing so. I am referring, fellow viewers, to Victoria Beckham and Range Rover and heaven preserve us Lionel Richie and Walkers "Extra Crunchy" Crisps.
It's taken me a while to work out why I have such a strong reaction to Lionel's Botoxed face advertising Walkers Crisps whereas I merely roll my eyes at Gary Lineker's grinning bonce, but work it out I have. For a start. Gary was probably brought up on Walkers Crisps forming part of his school lunch box just like the rest of us; Lionel, by contrast, would not even call them crisps but (argh!) CHIPS! They so aren't chips. Say it out loud: Walkers Chips. See? Doesn't work. They're crisps. Just cos you yanks have the nerve to call all chips 'French fries' when not even the FRENCH call them French fries, doesn't mean you have to tarnish our good old British definitions. And while we're talking about your misplaced penchant (oops) for all things French, 'herbs' has an H in it. See? The letter just before the E there? They definitely aren't 'erbs'.
Sorry, my rant against Lionel Richie has turned into a pseudo-xenophobic rant against Americans - or at least Americanisations. I will get back to Lionel just as soon as I remind them/you that asking someone 'did you read War and Peace?' is not the same as asking 'have you read War and Peace?' because the former assumes that you should have AND that there was a time limit on doing so. The latter is completely unambiguous. Anyway, back to Lionel. Say You, Say Me is an excellent song. Whether you like him or not, or whether you listen to pop or not, the chances are that you will probably recognise the beautifully simple four-note motif that makes up the chorus. But Mr Rubber Face has chosen to bastardise and abuse one of his masterpieces for the sake of advertising CRISPS and, as I say, a load of cash. I mean, he's one of pop music's global legends and mega-rich to boot, so what the hell...?
Much as I hate to have a pop (ahem) at the no-longer-with-us, but Michael Jackson advertising Pepsi was another such example although at least it's an American company. His hair catching fire due to a pyrotechnics accident during the filming of the commercial, resulting in third-degree burns to his scalp was, of course, absolutely awful (and some say the start of his addiction to painkillers) but if only he hadn't been selling his soul like that...
So, on to the Beckhams. David is at least good-looking enough to get away with making us lesser males feel even lesser by advertising Armani underwear and Police sunglasses...but come on, mate, stay away from those mobiles! That Vodafone one with you holding up your mobile and looking like you can't find the 'on' button is a bit lame. Similarly, Mrs B has put her name to Range Rover, which I suspect she has a hard time driving, never being out of six-inch killer heels. Not only has she put her name to it, but she's also designed the interior of the Evoque range. Range Rover have even given her the title of 'creative design executive' so arguably my ire should be directed at them rather than Posh. I mean, come ON! You wouldn't let Jeremy Clarkson or James May loose on Dolce & Gabbana's summer collection, would you? Richard Hammond...well, maybe.
All I can think of is that the powers that be at Range Rover were strolling around St John's Wood or Kensington one sunny Tuesday afternoon and noticed all the Yummy Mummies driving Tarquin to his fencing class and Tabitha to ballet in their 'Vogue' series Ranger Rovers. And Posh, being a yummy mummy herself (broadly speaking) would therefore be a safe pair of hands. In literal terms, I doubt it; I imagine she is constantly driving one-handed, track-skipping 'Two Become One' on her in-car CD player instead of keeping her pound-sign eyes on the road...
So come on, let loose: which other celebs selling their souls to the advertising world really get your goat?
by Ashley Morrison
Ashley is a blogger, copywriter and editor