Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Advertisements: From Hollywood, for Our Eyes Only

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Advertisements: From Hollywood, for Our Eyes Only

Article excerpt

Jennifer Aniston escapes the unwanted attentions of legion admirers using her Barclaycard, Kim Cattrall gets intimate with a cup of Tetley tea and Ray Liotta sips on a Heineken. These days, US film stars are as likely to pop up on our small screens during the ad breaks as they are to appear in our cinemas. Does this mean that they consider the UK to be an important market that they're just dying to get a piece of? Hardly. Their willingness to be seen endorsing even the most unglamorous products this side of the pond is a sure sign that they consider the UK to be a showbiz backwater.

In the past, American stars have confined their--frequently highly embarrassing--endorsement exploits to Japan. This phenomenon has been chronicled for the past ten years on the cheeky website www.japander.com, where fans can see huge box-office names prostituting themselves for a few extra greenbacks. Stars caught in the act include Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Sharon Stone and Jennifer Lopez, but the site reads like Hollywood's Walk of Fame and everyone who is anyone is there (except, funnily enough, Tom Cruise). So well-known is the practice that it was sent up in the film Lost in Translation, in which Bill Murray's character goes to Japan to promote a Japanese whiskey.

According to Brian Dubin, senior vice-president at the William Morris Agency, stars can net between $1m and $5m for a single overseas ad campaign. But the ads are made on condition that no one will see them outside the country for which they were made. Websites that have tried to expose the endorsements of Meg Ryan and Leonardo DiCaprio have been threatened with legal action. Al Soiseth, Japander's founder, received a stern letter from DiCaprio's lawyers accusing him of "wrongful use and misappropriation of our client's name" after Soiseth put one embarrassing endorsement up on the site. …

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