5 Celebrities Who Shill For Pathetic Junk Food and Drinks

Beyoncé for Pepsi, Jennifer Aniston for Smartwater: Many celebrities shill for products that are worthless, or worse.

January 14, 2013  |

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

Super Bowl season is upon us, and with that time of year comes a slew of new celebrity endorsements on our TV sets and billboards. Last year around this time AlterNet published an article about celebrities with endorsement deals for dubious products and financial services — think Hulk Hogan for Rent-a-Center and Alec Baldwin for Capital One.

This week, in a blog post for the New York Times Mark Bittman wondered why celebrities think it’s acceptable to shill soda — “a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in.”

That made us think it’s time to update our year-old list with an exploration of questionable food and beverage endorsement deals. But first, let’s hear more from Bittman on why he’s so bothered by stars selling their likeness to soda companies:

Some will say that soda is food and that there’s no smoking gun as there is with tobacco. But food provides nourishment, and soda doesn’t. In fact, it packs calories that provide no satiety and directly cause weight gain, and despite the recent Journal of the American Medical Association meta-analysis questioning the link between obesity and early death, we know there is a link between obesity and diseases like diabetes.

Two things can slow down this machine: anti-tobacco-style legislation and public opinion.

There’s one group of people that excels at turning around popular opinion: celebrities. Below are several (among many) stars who we generally like, but whose endorsement deals might not be so wholesome.

1. Beyoncé for Pepsi

Bittman cites a number of celebrity soda endorsers in his Times piece, but he mostly focuses on superstar singer Beyoncé, who is “eager, evidently, to have the Pepsi logo painted on her lips and have a limited-edition Pepsi can bearing her likeness” as part of a larger $50 million campaign pegged to the upcoming Super Bowl. Bittman points out that “unless she’s donating some or all of that money, this is an odd move for a politically aware woman who, with her husband, Jay-Z, raised money for President Obama and supported Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, meant to encourage children to exercise.”

That is an odd paradox, and we all know that Beyoncé is too smart not to have picked up on it. And in a broader sense, given soda’s known health risks, it’s strange that soda endorsements are perceived as some of the more wholesome deals out there; everyone from Elton John to Britney Spears to Cindy Crawford has had one. Is it really just because of the money (which is clearly substantial)? Or is it possible that celebrities don’t think soda is “that bad”?

2. Jennifer Aniston for Smartwater

Smartwater may not be as unhealthy as Pepsi, but it is a pretty big waste of money and plastic bottles.

For the uninitiated, Smartwater is simply bottled water with added electrolytes that allow parent company Glacéau to jack up the price. Electrolytes are important for staying hydrated, but most people do not need them added to their water. On a more fundamental level, the bottled water industry is doing terrible things for our planet by creating an enormous amount of plastic waste.

Perhaps Jennifer Aniston felt better about endorsing a bottled water product than a brand of soda. But guess what? Glacéau is a Coca-Cola company. So even if Aniston didn’t endorse a soda product, she still endorsed a soda company.

(We do have to give it to Smartwater and Aniston for a somewhat clever recent ad poking fun at our celebrity-obsessed culture, and in particular the media’s nonstop speculation about Aniston’s love life and empty womb.)