The year is 1986, and people have become more health conscious, much to the chagrin of the Beef Industry Council of the Meat Board and the Cattlemen's Beef Board. To fight this madness, these Knights of the Beef Table launched their "Beef... Real Food for Real People" campaign, all but calling non-meat eaters fags.
Their spokesman was James Garner, a likable actor who some of you young readers only know as "the old guy in the Notebook." In the ad, Garner uses his kabobs as a metaphor for a healthy all-beef diet.
You know that tomato in the commercial, the one Mr. Garner so callously threw away? Seems he probably should've eaten a few more of those and a few less beef kebabs. In April of 1988, Garner underwent quadruple bypass surgery (that means four blood vessels in his heart were blocked). The Beef Council and Garner tried to blame his clogged arteries on his years of smoking, not the cholesterol-laden red meat he'd been eating. What, did they find a bunch of cigarette butts jammed in there?
Needless to say it doesn't look too great when you're spokesperson nearly drops dead from the very health problem you hired him to gloss over. The Beef Council people and Garner agreed to an amicable split. In retrospect, it looks kind of short-sighted considering Garner is still alive and working today, at age 81. Come on, guys, why not sign him up for a "BEEF HAS MADE ME IMMORTAL!" campaign? What could go wrong?
Martha Stewart, for that two percent of Cracked readers who don't know, is a media mogul known for her cooking, gardening, etiquette, arts & crafts and pure evilness. Ms. Stewart has amassed a rather large fortune, courtesy of various ventures done through her Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia creation (if you didn't believe us on the "evilness" thing, the fact that she put "omni" in her corporation's name should convince you).
The evil didn't bother Kmart, struggling to keep pace with Wal-Mart and Target, as they signed a deal with MSLO to sell the Martha Stewart Everyday housewares collection in 2001. For the first year it worked out well for both parties, as Kmart sold $1.5 billion dollars worth of this shit, and those licensing fees accounted for nearly 25 percent of MSLO's profits.
Well, there was the thing with Stewart going to jail in 2003. She was indicted for securities fraud, obstruction of justice and other charges (including totally stabbing a dude because she thought it was funny). This was even worse news for Kmart than it was for Stewart because, unlike Martha, Kmart was on the brink of bankruptcy. Whoops!
Considering how grim the situation looked, everybody came out better than you'd think. In 2003, Kmart avoided corporate oblivion by merging with Sears, Roebuck and Company. Stewart served five months in jail, where she taught the inmates much better ways to sharpen a toothbrush into a shiv.
Martha Stewart is currently still under contract to Kmart (as well as Macy's), and as of 2007 has a net worth just under $640 million. See? A desperate deal with the devil can pay off, kids!
For more ridiculous celebrity endorsements, check out 8 Humiliating Japanese Ads Starring Oscar Nominees. Or find out about some commercials that were made by people who thought they could win an Academy Award for directing them, in 7 TV Ads That Take Themselves Way Too Seriously.
Or check out some websites that might be borderline retarded for letting us advertise their shit in Top Picks section.