11 Times Music Artists Totally Sold Out In TV Commercials

You’ve got a hit song. You’re a pop icon or rock star. You sell out hundreds of arenas across the globe. You have a six or seven figure recording contract and make millions more from touring. So, what’s the next logical thing you do? Sell out in a TV commercial for massive amounts of cash!

Celebrity endorsements have been in advertising for a long time and the ’80s and ’90s were no different (probably even more so!) While some celebrities are quite effective and appear natural, others are quite obviously doing them to make a quick buck using their popularity. Here are 11 instances when artists sold out and used their music to make a quick buck.

Michael Jackson for Suzuki (1980)

I’m sure MJ “loved” the extra cash made from this crazy endorsement. I had no recollection of this commercial and it appears it aired in Japan (notice the awesome Godzilla-style dubbing with Michael’s voice.)

 

Glenn Frey & Don Johnson for Pepsi (1986)

You can tell this commercial aired at the height of Miami Vice style. Not sure why Philip Michael Thomas didn’t want to make some extra coin or why he was replaced by Glen Frey…Don Johnson was a singer, remember?

 

Kool and the Gang for Wendy’s (1986)

My only response to this deep fried sellout is they must have seen the hand writing on the wall about their music career. 1986 was the last year a Kool and the Gang album charted.

 

Madonna for Pepsi (1989)

Did I miss something or didn’t MTV still play music videos in ’89?? Why did Madonna need to pass the offering plate to Pepsi to debut “Like a Prayer?” Guess I missed the burning cross displays at our local grocery store too.

Eric Clapton for Michelob (1988)

Need some extra cash and a boost to your music career? Re-record a 15-year old hit and give it to a beer company. Soon you won’t have to play anymore at rundown bars…well, not right away.

 

Whitney Houston for Diet Coke (1988)

I’m 99.9999999% sure that Whitney Houston DIDN’T do this commercial “just for the taste of it.”

 

New Edition for Coke (1985)

Wow. I hope these boys got paid good money, because I’m not sure how much it would’ve cost for me to dress in those clothes and literally “ride the wave.”

 

Genesis for Michelob (1986)

Apparently Michelob was wanting to own more than just “the night” back in the ’80s. Between Clapton, Genesis, and Steve Winwood, Michelob’s annual employee barbecue must have been a heck of a show.

 

Kenny Rogers for Dole (1987)

Dole gave Kenny Rogers $17 million to become their pineapple cowboy in 1986. With that kinda money, I’m sure Rogers would’ve rode pineapples and ate horses.

 

David Bowie & Tina Turner for Pepsi (1987)

This definitely had to be a low point for David Bowie…why else would he dress like Thomas Dolby and pretend to be the “modern love” of the very successful Tina Turner?

 

Elton John and Paula Abdul for Diet Coke (1990)

How much do you think it took Paula to dance on a large piano in 1990? I mean…sober.

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About Jason Gross 13 Articles
'80s kid and '90s grad. I've been writing and podcasting about 1980s pop culture since 2011 at my Rediscoverthe80s.com website. I collect vinyl, comics, Batman memorabilia, and all things Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.