When looking at a celebrity’s net worth, the millions of dollars placed next to their names make it look like they hit it big at the box office, a Billboard chart-topping hit, or a championship at a sporting event, they are rolling in cash. But actually, a large portion of these celebrities’ money comes from corporate endorsements rather than from earnings from their day jobs.
Brands will pay these celebrities millions of dollars for endorsing their products and services to draw in customers and bring in more profit. Companies know that investing in these celebrities is going to be an excellent investment, especially if those A-listers are the hottest ones right now or if they’re known for having cultivated a good reputation for a long time. These companies also know that when they want someone to sell something, they need to do more than just market it. It has to create a lasting brand impression.
Scroll down to know about some of the iconic celebrity endorsements of all time:
1) Nike and Jordan Brand (Michael Jordan)
NBA legend Michael Jordan’s partnership with sports brand Nike began in 1984 when he was just starting for the Chicago Bulls. That year also, Nike launched the first Air Jordan. The shoe now has 33 editions and several re-releases with different designs and colorways. More importantly, His Airness’ affiliation with Nike also allowed him to launch his own subsidiary brand, Jordan Brand, which has appeared in numerous “best sneakers” lists.
The former Bulls great has made over $1 billion from his partnership with Nike alone.
In addition to his iconic affiliation with Nike, Jordan also has had a longstanding partnership with clothing brand Hanes since 1989. In 2019, Jordan celebrated his 30th year representing the company.
2) Jell-O (Bill Cosby)
Before catapulting his name in the world of television in the 1980s, comedian and celebrity endorser Bill Cosby first became a popular spokesperson for advertising from the 1960s. He endorsed various brands – from Coca-Cola to Ford Motor to Texas Instruments. But his work with the gelatin and pudding maker Jell-O is the most enduring and iconic. His warm and fatherly image has helped provide a believable endorsement of the products he endorses. In 2002, Cosby’s stint with Jell-O was regarded as the longest-standing celebrity endorsement in US advertising history. He has endorsed Jell-O products since the 1970s.
Cosby’s work with Jell-O brought him another honor in 2011 – an induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He was one of the first African-Americans to appear in the US as a product spokesperson.
3) Diet Coke (Taylor Swift)
Taylor Swift has been featured in Diet Coke ads since 2013, and the collaboration is rumored to have brought the pop princess a mind-boggling $26 million! Diet Coke has launched a number of memorable campaigns. One of them is the “Stay Extraordinary” campaign which shows Swift penning a new song while sipping on a Diet Coke. Another campaign features Swift being surrounded by adorable cats. This particular campaign coincided with Swift’s transformation from a country music darling to a legitimate pop star.
4) Lancôme (Isabella Rossellini)
Actress, model, author, and activist Isabella Rossellini represented the ideal beauty of the 1980s through her iconic association with the French luxury perfume and cosmetics brand Lancôme.
Rossellini is no stranger to show business, as she is the daughter of Swedish actress and Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini. She began her acting career in the 1970s, but she was somewhat of a late bloomer in modeling, which she started when she was 28.
In 1982, Rossellini began her partnership with Lancôme and went on to become the company’s international face for 14 years. During her stint with Lancôme, she endorsed and sold everything from the brand’s iconic Trésor perfume to anti-aging creams. Rossellini’s contract with Lancôme was quite lucrative (it was rumored to have brought her around $2 million a year), making her one of the highest-paid models at the time.
In 1996, when she was 43, Rossellini was dropped by Lancôme as being “too old.” But in 2016 – 20 years later – Rossellini was hired again by Lancôme as its global brand ambassador. She was 63 years old at the time.
5) Nike and Rolex (Tiger Woods)
Another superstar sports player on this list is golfer Tiger Woods, whose brands he has endorsed include Nike and Rolex.
Woods first teamed up with Nike in a $40 million deal when he turned pro in 1996. Just four years later, Woods shattered records when he signed a $100 million contract to continue as a brand ambassador for the next six years. In 2006, Nike extended Woods’ contract for another eight years for an estimated $20 to $40 million annually and renewed it for the final time (for an undisclosed sum) in 2013. Nike stood by him through his 2009 adultery scandal and a period where he suffered injuries that affected his career, even though other brands (such as Gillette) dropped him.
The star golfer also inked an endorsement deal with the luxury watch brand Rolex when several other brands dropped him following the media exposure of his adultery scandal and divorce. Following the deal, Woods wore Rolex watches on and off the golf course and appeared on the company’s print advertisements. Although his performance has steadily declined, Woods has maintained his affiliation with Rolex.
6) Pepsi (Britney Spears)
In 2000, Britney Spears signed a highly publicized endorsement deal with Pepsi, bringing her $8 million. Following the deal, the one-time teen pop star recorded numerous singles and filmed a variety of commercials.
During her four-year stint with the beverage brand, Spears released a couple of promotional albums as well. Her Pepsi commercials frequently appeared in top slots on television, including major sports events like the World Cup.
Following Spears’ tenure with Pepsi, it was followed by a slew of other pop stars that worked for the company, including Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and Nicki Minaj.
At the peak of her career, Spears endorsed a wide range of products, from Skechers to Polaroid. She was also involved in the iconic “Got Milk?” campaign, encouraging Americans to drink more milk.
7) Adidas (David Beckham)
English soccer superstar David Beckham is one of the most recognizable athletes today. He has capitalized his name and image by having inked endorsement deals with several blue-chip companies, including Adidas, PepsiCo, Armani, Calvin Klein and H&M. Still, his association with Adidas is by far the most famous – and also the most lucrative.
Adidas hired Beckham in 2003, the same year when he moved to Real Madrid. He signed a lifetime contract with the sports brand, guaranteeing him a whopping $160 million, plus percentages of profits on all of his branded Adidas products.
8) Pepsi (Michael Jackson)
These days, $5 million is not much. But way back in the 1980s, that was a record-breaking figure for an endorsement deal when Michael Jackson signed a contract with Pepsi.
Following the success of his Thriller album, Jackson became an in-demand celebrity. He had already turned down a $1 million deal from Coca-Cola. Pepsi managed to snap the King of Pop up by brokering a deal with Jackson’s estate. Following the deal, Jackson’s iconic silhouette was featured on every Pepsi can. The beverage company signed a second, $10 million contract with Jackson in support of his Bad album and tour through 1987 to 1988.
In 2018 – nine years after Jackson’s death – he was heavily featured in Pepsi’s 2018 “Pepsi Generations” campaign.
9) Nike (Cristiano Ronaldo)
Football legend Cristiano Ronaldo signed a lifetime contract with Nike, reportedly worth around $1 billion.
Ronaldo’s association with Nike began in 2003, the year when he also started suiting up for Manchester United. The Portuguese sports icon then moved to Real Madrid in 2009. At the time of the deal, Ronaldo had sported more than 60 various Nike cleats over a 13-year period. Currently, Ronaldo has been playing for Manchester United again since his return to the English football club in August 2021. Prior to his return to Manchester, Ronaldo last played for Juventus.
10) Nike (LeBron James)
But Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the only star athlete who signed a lifetime deal with Nike. In 2016, NBA superstar LeBron James inked a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike, becoming the company’s first-ever lifetime signing. The deal was reported to be worth around $1 billion, the same amount as Ronaldo’s contract with the same sports brand.
This is not surprising, as James was a clear money-maker for the brand, which sold around $340 million worth of his signature shoes.
James’ affiliation with Nike began in 2003 when he signed a seven-year contract that guaranteed him $90 million. Then he inked a new contract again for an undisclosed sum. In 2020, he was ranked in fifth place in Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes in the world.