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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 06/ 2/2006

The Scales of Celebrity Spokesmanship

By Liz Kelly

"Celebrity spokesperson" usually invokes images of late night infomercials and '70s TV stars -- you know, flashes of Victoria Principal tending her auburn locks with a Flowbee* or Suzanne Somers detailing, in repetitive childlike tones, the glories the ThighMaster.

"It's Suntory time." (AP/Focus Features)

"Celebrity spokesperson" is a stop on the way down from stardom. Think Bill Murray's washed-up actor filming Japanese whiskey commercials in "Lost in Translation." Haven't had a regular job since the "Bionic Woman"? Fear not, you can find your way back into living rooms (of shut-ins and insomniacs) on late night Sleep Number Bed infomercials.

"Celebrity spokesperson" is not to be confused with "The new face of..." as in "Madonna is the new face of H&M." In such cases we understand that H&M is grovelingly thankful to be paying Madonna beaucoup bucks to appear in glossy mag ads.

But there's been a disturbance in the force. In what can only be described as evidence that I watch too much MTV, VH1, E! and TLC, one company has bucked the "catch them on the way down" trend by going after -- and getting -- high megawatt star power to hawk -- wait for it, wait for it -- acne medication.

In the past week, Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson and even P. Diddy himself have looked out, smooth as baby's butts, from my depressingly non-HD TV to tell me about their struggle with acne and their salvation, Proactiv Solution. One can only imagine the payday involved with convincing untouchables like Diddy and Simpson to talk about zits. A few of Proactiv's celebrity testimonials are here.

Celebrity endorsements increase a business's visibility and can provide an exponential rate of return on their investment. Celebrities are seen as trend-setters and can spark a run on anything from purses to haircuts -- remember when everyone was getting Jennifer Aniston's "Rachel Green"/"Friends" haircut? No wonder it was named the most influential haircut of all time and that there is a demand for agencies like Hollywood-Madison Group, specializing in matching up celebrities with products.

What does the endorsement do for the celebrity's image? It depends. When you're George Foreman an endorsement can serve as a vehicle back to the public's attention. When you're Chuck Norris or Christie Brinkley, it is a sure sign of a star flaming out.

I doubt Clarkson's, Simpson's or Diddy's star power will be in any way dimmed by their association with Proactiv and it is kind of cool to see celebrities admit to having human skin, after all. But, who wouldn't, for the right price?

(*Yes, I totally made this example up, but I refuse to write about infomercials without mentioning the Flowbee. So, just for the record, as far as I know, a Flowbee has never even been in the vicinity of Victoria Principal's hair.)

By Liz Kelly  | June 2, 2006; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Celebritology 101, Miscellaneous, Pop Culture  
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But you must understand - the infomercials are all part of Chuck Norris' plan.

Chuck Norris does not tolerate insolence.

Posted by: ChuckFan | June 2, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

yes, the first time i saw the jessica simpson ad, i thought they said, "jessica simpson had a lot of problems with acting in her younger years..." or something along those lines. which definitely kept me watching, at least until i figured out they said acne, not acting. make sure a voiceover with good enunciation is in your contract!

Posted by: lol | June 2, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Leave Lindsay Wagner and Christie Brinkley alone. They were the dreamgirls of my long-departed youth (along with all of Charlie's Angels, Daisy Duke, and Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman).

Also Cheryl Tiegs.

Posted by: Horace | June 2, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

You just couldn't resist putting Bill Murray's picture up, could you? I guess you've shown a lot of self-restraint waiting this long to do it. After all, according to Gene W. you feel about Mr Murray like I do about Lindsay Wagner, Christie Brinkley, Charlies Angels, Daisy Duke and Lynda Carter.

Also Cheryl Tiegs.

Posted by: Horace | June 2, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Good old bill murray. And I do mean old. Even older than me, and I remember him when he started as Chevy Chase's replacment.

And he barely qualifies for celebrity status.

But all that aside. It's funny that he's doing the whiskey commercials and not the acne ones... after all, his face looks like it caught on fire and was put out with an ice pick. OUCH!

Posted by: Ouch | June 4, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Bill Murray is in a friggin' movie!!!
Idiot. OUCH.

Posted by: Ouch, Ouch. | June 5, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

pictures of her zits

Posted by: Jessica Simpson | September 5, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

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