Tom Brady might need a Hail Mary to get guys to buy Ugg boots

By David Kiefaber on Tue Dec 7 2010


Tom Brady's quest never to pay for clothes again continues with his agreement to shill for Ugg boots for men. The global campaign will launch next year, and the New England Patriots quarterback is being called on to endorse an entire line of casual footwear, outerwear and accessories. Considering he already speaks for Under Armour (which he partly owns) and plays football every so often, Tom's a busy man. And it's a good thing he's used to a hectic schedule, because making Uggs palatable to men again will not be easy. They may have started out as a men's brand, but their densest market share is clearly ugly boots for women. And since I'm not sure there's a huge percentage of men who want to be Tom Brady (beyond their fantasies about his wife, anyway), I'm curious about who the target audience will be. Football fans? Urban sophisticates? Sitcom dads? The half of New England's population that doesn't want him to die in a fire? Speaking of, I wonder what being the face of Uggs will do for Brady's Q-rating. Hearing him say things like "I have worn and loved the Ugg brand for a long time" might turn some men against him from the get-go.

Hollywood A-list actors can't hide their overseas ads any longer

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Dec 2 2010

Once upon a time, A-list American actors like George Clooney and Brad Pitt starred in ads that were intended to be seen only overseas, a practice that lined their pockets but didn't ding their personal brands at home. Over time, we all figured out how it worked. Conan O'Brien had some fun with the concept in a meta Super Bowl spot for Bud Light, and before that, Bill Murray gave us the Lost in Translation spin. Nowadays, anytime a celeb shills for a product, we're all likely to see video evidence of it immediately, even if we're not the target. Case in point: Julia Roberts plays a mute and radiant Venus in a new Italian commercial for A Modo Mio coffee. Since I don't speak Italian, I'm guessing from the context that she likes the brew enough to smile, laugh and wink in response to a taste test. For a reported $1.5 million payday, she's pretty convincing. It's no Alec Baldwin and mom strolling through Wegman's, but it'll do.

Leslie Nielsen perfected the bumbling fool in TV commercials too

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Nov 30 2010

Surely you recall Leslie Nielsen's commercial career. (Insert worn-to-a-nub yet still somehow funny joke from Airplane here.) The beloved actor, who died Sunday at age 84 after starring for six decades in movies and TV, traded on the bumbling persona he perfected in the Naked Gun franchise and Airplane for a series of spots for They're fun to watch, if only to be reminded of his perfect mix of authoritarian straight man and goofy pratfall master. The star of dramas like Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure earlier in his career, Nielsen found his stride as a comedian in the '80s, which led to endorsements like Dutchtone. He'll surely be missed.

Alec Baldwin does awkward yet charming TV spots for Wegmans

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Nov 24 2010

Many of us prefer to think of Alec Baldwin these days in his 30 Rock/Jack Donaghy context, unleashing a barrage of cutting quips that keep Liz Lemon and The Girlie Show gang on their toes. (And I mean this as opposed to, say, his stint as The Marrying Man.) But even a big TV star has to pay the bills (he's a divorced support-paying man now, after all), so Baldwin is shilling for the northeast-based grocery chain Wegmans. It seems his mom, Carol, is a fan, a fact that Baldwin mentioned during a David Letterman appearance not long ago. Wegmans picked up the reference and used it to recruit Baldwin and the family matriarch for a series of commercials that are pedestrian, kind of awkward and yet charming all at the same time. That's a good hat trick even for the Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. See a second spot here.

Beyoncé's Heat fragrance commercial proving too hot for some

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Nov 18 2010

What could be better than launching a celebrity perfume with a splashy ad campaign just before Christmas? Having that ad banned by the TV standards police. Pop singer/actress Beyoncé Knowles stars in a smokin' hot commercial for her already strong-selling new cologne called Heat. (The spot sizzles, literally, with plumes and everything.) It's set against her version of the sultry standard "Fever." The U.K.'s Ad Standards Authority, whose members have apparently never seen a music video, deemed it too racy for airing during the day, when kids might see it, but OK for after 7:30 p.m. The product is rolling out internationally, and the ads are just seeing the light of day (or not) in some territories. The perfume's marketer, Coty, said the ad is "sexy chic," like its inspiration, and isn't "overtly graphic or explicitly sexual." And she's not nekked, folks, so settle down, Coty said. The bottom line is that the controversy is great free publicity, and Knowles has never looked more gorgeous. Women may want to know how they can get cleavage like that as much as they wonder how the perfume smells, but either way, they're thinking about Heat.

Is your endorser prone to bad behavior? Get disgrace insurance

By David Kiefaber on Thu Nov 18 2010


As companies rely more and more on celebrity endorsers, the risk of their spokespeople going spectacularly off the rails becomes more prominent. And while celebrity train wrecks make great headlines, they're terrible for PR. But since it's apparently impossible to pull back on the constant media scrutiny that celebrities live under, vulnerable brands are literally insuring themselves against bad publicity with "disgrace insurance." Now, disgrace claims have existed for a long time, but they have a much higher corporate profile now, thanks to guys like Tiger Woods and their very public misbehavior. For brand marketers, disgrace insurance policies cover the costs of having to restart an ad campaign, money that would otherwise be lost when the company has to jettison its star player. And according to Lloyd's, premiums fluctuate based on how likely the celebrity is to cause trouble. Not every company sees the need for disgrace insurance (some brands, like Gillette, kept Tiger Woods, if you recall), but there are plenty that do, and they're screwing up a teachable moment here. Expecting rich, attractive people who live in a world of yes to never misbehave is unrealistic, and the pressure this places on people who already have privacy issues is absurd. This could, and should, lead into a discussion about how unhinged Western celebrity culture has become, and that maybe we shouldn't make famous people the focal point of everything we consume.

Sammi from 'Jersey Shore' gets all PMS-y with Betty Crocker app

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Nov 9 2010


Though I hate to trash-talk my own gender, and falling back on an old trope makes it even worse, but I feel compelled to share my impression of a PMS-themed partnership between Betty Crocker and Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola. Why bother to link the deal with "that time of the month" since Sammi seems like she's always on the rag? Fans of Jersey Shore, are you with me? On to the specifics: Betty Crocker, for its Warm Delights chocolate desserts, has launched a free iPhone app called PMS SOS that sends out coupons and gives women pre-packaged excuses for their tyrannical and/or irrational behavior. For guys, there are instructions on how to give foot massages, advice on what to say (or better yet, what not to say) to the women in their lives, as well as pre-written excuses for leaving the house. Hey, couldn't those all apply at any time of the month? There's also a Facebook page that could be used to vent about the horrors of menstruation but will probably have lots of chocoholics raving. Betty Crocker, a brand that will forever be linked to the '50s in my mind, is trying to show a little zeitgeisty humor here. Not a bad idea. But again, Sammi? I think it'll take more than a Molten Chocolate Warm Delight to sweeten that sour puss.

Andrew W.K. set to host the Most Interesting Show in the World

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Oct 21 2010

Instead of the suave and debonair Most Interesting Man in the World, we get hard-partying metal head Andrew W.K. as host of The Most Interesting Show in the World. I would've voted for the former, but he might've been a little understated for such an event. He's so darn charming, though! Heineken, pumping its Dos Equis beer, has created a live stage show with illusionists, dancers, escape artists and other Cirque du Freak-like attractions. It's heading to 17 cities this month and next, with the musician/performance artist/motivational speaker at the helm. Andrew W.K. is no stranger to brands, with his version of the famous Kit Kat commercial jingle under his belt. Check out the video to see what's in store, and don't expect to see the host in a dapper suit. You can always go here for that.

These days, literally anyone in film or TV can launch a product

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 21 2010


Celebrity brands and products pop up all the time, from Lee Iacocca pasta sauce to Donald Trump's Vodka (he doesn't drink, and his brother died from alcohol-related health problems, but that didn't stop the Donald) to Celine Dion's and Beyoncé's perfumes. After all, what are personal brand names good for, beyond making money off them? But just how far down the food chain is too far when it comes to trying to capitalize on fame?
  This week, Mad Men costume designer (OK, she is an Emmy Award winner, but still) Janie Bryant is launching a line of "retro-chic" nail polish called Nailtini, available at Duane Reade and QVC, among other outlets. Bryant says the colors (Stinger and Bourbon Satin among them), as well as the brand name, are inspired by cocktail culture. A day earlier, we saw a pitch for a fragrance being launched by casting agent Susan McCray, "who discovered talented gems such as Shannen Doherty and Melissa Gilbert while casting for Michael Landon's shows, including Little House on the Prairie. Mrs. McCray's 'life after Hollywood' is just as fascinating as her time in Tinseltown, as she is fulfilling her lifelong dream of launching her own luxurious fragrance line, Nightfall." McCray has a Web site,, and a podcast in which she tries to capitalize on her Rolodex. Her latest guest is accordion legend Frank Marocco.
  What's next, a karaoke machine launched by the third associate director on American Idol? Island tours led by the gaffer from Lost?

Brooke Shields set to recline comfortably in La-Z-Boy campaign

By David Kiefaber on Tue Oct 19 2010


La-Z-Boy is courting women with an upcoming ad campaign starring Brooke Shields, who will be the face of the furniture manufacturer's drive to show that they make stuff besides recliners. And it's a full range of stuff we're talking about: La-Z-Boy is trotting out sofas, modular pieces, love seats, leather upholstery and anything else that's attractive to middle-class housewives. In fact, Shields got picked for being a celebrity mom who's still hot enough to keep La-Z-Boy's faithful male customers hanging around—something the company basically admits outright, although it helps that she's already a spokeswoman for more noble causes like Tupperware's Chain of Confidence SMART Girls campaign. That makes her, and by proxy La-Z-Boy, seem less mercenary about convincing you to buy things from them. Since none of the ads are out yet, there's not much to say beyond remarking on how odd it is that women can sell things like La-Z-Boys but cars are out of the question.



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