Have you ever looked at pop culture icons and wondered why certain celebrities appear in ads? Especially when the person has no apparent relationship with the product being sold in the ad. It seems like there is some mysterious force that attracts companies to recruit these stars to be in their ads. What most people do not realize is that these ads try to entice younger viewers into looking at them by displaying pop figures who are popular and controversial. These companies look to get any celebrity that is popular and notorious for controversy into their advertisements just so that young people will recognize it. An ad for Tommy Jeans, with Britney Spears in it, is made solely for young people to be enticed by the popular musician, not the jeans themselves. Similar to a Candies Fragrances ad that has Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra posing together. These ads are using popular icons and the celebrity’s controversial lives to draw young audiences so that the ad will stick out in teenager’s minds.
In the two page Tommy Jean advertisement, the ad is divided into four sections. The third section, starting from the left, has a guitar with the American flag on it and the words “Tommy Hilfiger” in two of the stripes. The first two and the final sections are pictures of Britney Spears singing in a recording studio. She’s wearing headphones, white Tommy top and blue Tommy jeans, in each of the three pictures. The words “Tommy Jeans” are shown across the middle of the pages and in the bottom right hand corner of the ad. Underneath the one of those is the statement “presents Britney Spears “baby one more time” tour.”
Another ad is the Candie’s advertisement, which displays both Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman together as a pair. Rodman is dressed in just a pair of boxers, standing with his hands raised. Carmen, on the other hand, is fully clothed with jeans and short top. She is standing with her one arm wrapped around Dennis with a bottle of Candie’s fragrances. Her head is against his chest while, her other hand slightly tugging his boxers away from his body. The ad is giving the appearance that she is spraying the fragrance beneath his boxers. Obviously the ad is appealing to the sexual controversy between the two stars.
The first celebrity mentioned is Britney Spears, one of the new poster pop stars who Tommy Hilfiger has recruited. This beautiful, brown hair, brown-eyed girl has been singing nationally since she was seven years old. Yet, she just recently gained notoriety as a pop culture diva on her entrance into the pop music world. Britney Spears made a more noticeable impact on the pop scene because of some controversy arising in her career. A Rolling Stone article, which displayed too much skin of a seventeen-year-old girl than society believes should be allowed. She also has been accused of acquiring breast implants to further her career, which she denied weeks after the accusations. Leading the public to believe that she may have been debating on whether or not to tell the truth. This delayed reaction by Spears still creates controversy over the issue of her alleged implants. These events have helped Britney Spears get into the limelight and also increase her record sales. This controversy combined with her singing has made her very popular among teenagers, boys and girls alike. Tommy Hilfiger is capitalizing on her newfound fame by having her appear in their new advertisement campaign.
Although he is not as accepted by the public as Britney Spears, he does share, he does share Spears’ controversial spotlight. Not only has Dennis Rodman been the topic of controversy, but even his relationship with Carmen Electra has been under much public scrutiny. Dennis Rodman is a NBA star with a “bad boy” reputation on and off the court. He had skipped many practices for his Los Angeles Lakers, which is unheard of in professional sports. Sport commentators questioned whether or not he should be allowed to play, while the team ultimately decided that he should not. Rodman has been seen blatantly knocking down cameramen and has been suspended for making physical contact with referees. Not only does his violent behavior and his lack of sportsmanship cause topic for criticism, but his appearance has also raised some eyebrows. Rodman can be is easily distinguished trotting down the court with his green hair and pink fingernails. Or even out in public sporting numerous piercing and women’s clothing. His off the wall appearance combined with his rough game play has made him more noticeable than other basketball stars. Off the court, Rodman continues to be in the public eye by making headlines in many papers. Within the last year he has been to court for numerous incidents of disorderly conduct, ranging from bar fights, to public intoxication, to sexual assault. Adding to his publicity is his references to sex, which he announces publicly without any care of the repercussions. Walk on the Wild Side, which is the second book written by Rodman, mentions him having sex with a transsexual and Rodman stating “I like to fantasize about masturbating while sitting on the bench during big games.” (p. 125) Coinciding with this fixation on making his sex life public, is his affairs with Madonna and Carmen Electra, both of which have also been the topic of controversial issues. Rodman and Electra were married for six months starting little less than a year ago. Some columnists have stated that the couple’s entire marriage is a hoax to draw publicity for the two.
These advertisements use these controversial figures because they are popular in our culture. Britney Spears will obviously attract teenage fans of her music, but will also attract people who have read about her or seen her in the media. Rodman and Electra are also in the middle of media crossfire. Their lives may not have much to do with the ad itself, but it attracts readers who are nosey about the couple’s lives. The advertisement companies are appealing to American’s obsession with celebrity’s lives. This disease which American culture has been stricken with since the sixties, is a vain attempt for Americans to ignore their own problems. By focusing on the imperfections of superstars, we can feel some relief that our own lifestyles and imperfections are not as bad as they seem. This fixation that the media entices leads to celebrities lives being invaded by the paparazzi and by stalkers. This fascination with controversial celebrities also leads to stars like Dennis Rodman, who seems to purposely cause controversy just so he can make some more money. What American needs to do is start minding our own business. Letting celebrities live in peace and to stop letting the media point our noses into what they think is important.