For many celebrities, that big ol' shot of fame just doesn't come with enough of a fortune chaser. What else can a poverty-stricken famous person do but turn to the free market to correct such a grievous error? Needless to say, there is no room for shame in the free market. Hence ...
In 2005, Sylvester Stallone started selling his own "high-protein pudding" -- not a euphemism, but actual pudding for building muscle. According to Sly, regular food simply doesn't cut it. You need his magical pudding to become the strongest, most powerful version of yourself. He even shared some of the pudding with Larry King during a live interview, which miraculously didn't end with the two hulking out and wrestling each other on camera.
Now, "a protein shake, but more viscous" isn't a terrible idea. Unfortunately, it wasn't Stallone's. Soon after the brand was launched, Sly's partners were sued by a man who claimed to have invented the muscle-building pudding. For some reason, their defense was "But anyone could come up with that idea -- including us!"
They ended up settling in 2012, at which point Stallone decided he'd stay out of endorsing wacky products forever. And by "forever" we mean "for a year." In 2013, he narrated what we're confidently declaring the most bonkers pen commercial ever made. First of all, it's obvious that they spent so much money on luxury pens that they had none left for decent CGI.
Turns out Stallone himself designed this pen, presumably with help from his goth nephew. After four minutes of inexplicable phrases like "death does not exist without life" and incomprehensible cinematics from a '90s PC game, the pen disintegrates, Thanos-style. That's not something you want a $48,000 product to do, but don't worry -- it then reassembles itself into the shape of an equally insane-looking $60,000 watch. Gotta admit that's a great value right there.
It's one thing to "take back" a word that was used as a slur against your people and reclaim it as your own. It's quite another to try to trademark it and use it to sell T-shirts. That's what Damon Wayans of Clan Wayans tried to do in the mid-2000s. According to Wayans' trademark application, he planned to use the KKK's favorite word on a clothing line and retail store, slapping it all over clothes, books, music, "general merchandise," and even TV shows and movies. Any shopping mall brave/stupid enough to host one of his stores would have ended up looking like a giant 4chan thread.
Justia Corporate Center
Unfortunately for Wayans (and for edgy white teens looking for excuses to be racist), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had a rule against allowing "immoral or scandalous" trademarks, and his application was rejected. But that was in 2005. Apparently we as a nation are now ready for "[N-word] Jeans." In 2017, the Supreme Court struck down the Patent Office's rule against offensive trademarks, based on free speech concerns. And what do you know, on that very same day, someone re-filed Wayans' exact trademark application from 2005 ... just to prevent anyone (including Wayans, it seems) from making money off that word. This actually all sounds like a great plot for a Wayans Bros. movie.
According to the band Korn, "one thing [that] has remained a constant in our daily routine" after almost 25 years of touring is ... no, not hangovers, passed-out groupies, or lovingly cleaning each other's dreadlocks like a family of monkeys. They're talking about coffee. They love coffee so much that they got "together with a roaster and handcrafted [their] very own blend of Koffee" -- with a K, of kourse.
J. Gursey Coffee
To create the blend, members of the band teamed up with West Coast beanery J. Gursey Coffee. The resulting blend encompasses unique fair trade beans such as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Guatemalan Huehuetenago, and Organic Peru, with a toss of Vintage Black Diamond, though it's a huge wasted opportunity that they didn't include any corn flavors in there. In fact, screw coffee. They've been together for 25 years and they're still not selling Korndogs? That is just leaving money on the table.
Anyway, here's a video of the guys from "Freak On A Leash" pretending to make coffee:
Legendary rapper MC Hammer has owned horses, invested in mixed martial arts, and attempted a number of other similarly financially questionable ventures, but his saddest moneymaking scheme probably came back in October 2011, when he started a "deep search engine" called WireDoo. WireDoo was intended to compete with a little company you might have heard of called "Google" (you can Google it if you haven't).
In fairness, the technological advancement that Mr. Hammer pitched was useful, if not already in practice: adding relationship information to search results. For instance, if you searched for a Honda Civic, you could also get information about insurance, pricing, and consumer safety ratings. Or if you searched for "MC Hammer," you might find articles detailing why it's a terrible idea to do business with him. Hammer went looking for private investors, which apparently didn't go so well, considering that he's the one and only "team member" listed when you look WireDoo up.
WireDoo never left beta testing and went offline in early 2012. That is, a few months after the announcement. Luckily, Hammer has maintained interest in the tech community, and continues to look for new investments. And despite not being able to provide you with a revolution in search engine technology, MC Hammer can still ... make a rap video about your next home.
We're guessing this wasn't part of the career plan for the first diamond-selling rapper.
When you think of Ric Flair, the iconic wrestler who walked into the ring wearing fancy robes and bragging about his multiple luxury vehicles, the first words that come to mind are obviously "fiscal responsibility." We're talking about a guy with a loooong history of owing money to everyone from the IRS to his kid's school, and who once gave two different companies the same title belt as collateral for unpaid loans. So it was only a matter of time before he decided to share some of that expertise with you, via an online business venture called "Ric Flair Finance."
Ric Flair Finance
The website promised that it could get you " the money you need to live like the Nature Boy" -- which, if you've been paying attention at all, is something you know the Nature Boy himself can't do (he was evicted from his home in 2011 due to unpaid rent). The idea was simple: You'd select the type of loan you wanted, and Flair's buddies would hook you up with a suitable lender. How did no one think of this before? Probably because, like most of Flair's trademark shenanigans in the ring, this was wildly illegal. Flair's partner never even bothered to get a lender or broker license.
The business existed for less than a year before it was closed down by North Carolina. According to the highly professional wrestling press at the time, this was solely due to the "weak economy." No, we're pretty sure it was the "illegal" thing. Meanwhile, the erstwhile company's site started redirecting curious parties to instructions on how to book Flair for personal appearances (at around $10,000 a pop). Because if anyone really needed financing here, it was Ric Flair himself.
As soon as it became clear that Steven Seagal's name couldn't be used to sell movie tickets anymore, he started using it to sell ... everything else. Aftershave? Yep. Knives, swords, and other assorted pointy objects? Sure, why not. The extremely improbable idea of him as a law enforcement officer? Might as well give it a shot.
One of the most bizarre ad campaigns that Seagal graced with his presence was an Australian beer company's contest, which promised to turn one fan's true life story into a four-minute Seagal "movie." The winning entry was titled Sheep Impact, and featured Seagal as a 26-year-old with a horrifying genetic condition that made him look like present-day Steven Seagal.
The story follows two bros who need to get meat for a party. One of them decides to kill an unfortunate sheep bystander. The other bro (played by Seagal) tries to save the sheep, but a police officer mistakes him for the would-be sheep-killer and pulls a gun on him. At this point, Seagal's character communicates telepathically with the animal and makes it attack the cop, allowing the bros to escape and reach the party.
But then, in the greatest plot twist since Seagal was killed off 20 minutes into Executive Decision, it turns out that the cop was also going to the party, and had the same idea regarding the sheep. Telepathically sensing that his woolly friend is in danger, Seagal disarms the cop with his usual "a hot dog that learned to fight" finesse:
Carlton & United Breweries
Then there's Seagal's ad for his own energy drink, which has the production value and sophistication of a home video made by bored ten-year-olds on summer break. It starts with Seagal's lady friend pouring "hundreds" of cans of the drink (called "Lightning Bolt") into a pool because Seagal wants to swim in it. Then he carelessly tosses the woman into the pool, which is sadly the most realistic part here. Another hot lady appears, this time speaking Russian, and she asks for Seagal's permission to jump into the energy drink pool as well. He says sure, also in perfect Russian ...
... which we guess comes in handy when he's palling around with Putin or shilling for Russian sniper rifles.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature is the Worst: 500 reasons you'll never want to go outside again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Michael Guzniczak is a writer, actor, improviser and recovering lawyer living in Los Angeles. If you'd like to confuse him as much as the rest of Twitter does, feel free to follow @MJGuzniczak. Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuff here. Kel Fabie is on Twitter (@kelfabie), and also writes for 8List.PH. He's a writer/digital marketer by day, and a comedian/magician/mentalist at night, so you never know, you might find a use for him yet.
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