To look at this list you'd think the first step in becoming a veritable Hollywood star is appearing in a promo for Carl's Jr. Sure, a commercial is a coveted gig for any upstart actor, but we're willing to bet big bucks a few of the thespians in the photos ahead cringe whenever this footage resurfaces. The gloriously awkward, the iconic, and the truly surprising… from royals to Oscar winners, here’s a round-up of everybody you completely forgot (or never knew) once promoted junk food.
A young Leonardo DiCaprio is all of us when we’re hangry for ‘fat-free cheese’ and mom says “no, no, no, they’re for your dad, you know he’s watching his cholesterol” in this EPIC commercial from 1989.
Like everything Kristen Wiig touches, her 2017 “Everyman” campaign with Pizza Hut is gold. Portraying a variety of ‘everyman’ characters and personalities, the commercial is actually hysterical.
Before Steve Carrell made it big, he starred in a 1990 commercial for Brown’s Chicken. Watching the ad is like watching a young Michael Scott—which is, of course, a beautiful thing.
A young Cameron Diaz starred in a couple of surprisingly artsy and beautiful Coca-Cola commercials back in the early 90s, as part of Coca-Cola’s “Can’t Beat the Real Thing” campaign. Filmed at the very beginning of Diaz’s career, the ads must have put her on the map; she’d soon go on to star opposite Jim Carrey in The Mask.
Back in 2004, McDonald’s hired the Olsen twins to promote its Happy Meals in France. A CNN Money article from the time reported that McDonald’s French site showed the then-teens and the various branded items, including a pre-Elizabeth-and-James “sac en jean Mary-Kate and Ashley.”
Back in 1996, then 26-year-old Brad Pitt appeared shirtless in a beach party-esque spot for Pringles. The plot line in the commercial is rather avant-garde and undefined, but young Pitt makes it worth a watch.
Another young heartthrob, another bizarre plot line. Young Ben Affleck gets a call on his cellular device—a gadget with an antenna and all—from a mysterious, sultry-voiced woman asking him to pick her up Burger King. Affleck decides he's game. He proceeds to anonymously drop off the Burger King order at an attractive girl’s house (there's a hole in the plot, as we don't know how he's come to know her address) before his dad calls him and summons him home. If this 1989 commercial sounds like somebody's "really weird dream from last night," it probably is, and yet it kind of works.
YUP. Back in 2009, before Meghan Markle was even Rachel Zane on Suits and long before she was a member of the royal family, she starred in a Tostitos commercial. The commercial was called “3 Ingredients” and starred Markle as a grocery shopper pondering which chips to buy for a get-together with friends. Watch the spot here.
Before there was the PR disaster that was Kendall Jenner for Pepsi, there was Ashton Kutcher for Pop Chips. Kutcher did a variety of accents in his 2012 commercial for the snack brand, but the one that drew sharp criticism was his portrayal of Raj, a fictional Indian character. Kutcher wore brown makeup (pardon me, but in WHAT WORLD did anybody think this was a good idea??). The ad was, unsurprisingly, swiftly pulled.
Back in 2008, just four years after the release of Supersize Me, supermodel Heidi Klum promoted McDonald's Germany’s ‘Snack Deluxe’ menu addition in a commercial during which she excitedly eats a chicken wrap.
2004’s ultimate squad goals: Beyoncé, Britney Spears, and Pink all starred in perhaps the most iconic Super Bowl ad of all time. Dressed in epic gladiator-of-the-early-aughts outfits, the trio turned “We Will Rock You” into a power-girl anthem.
Back in 1995, Ringo Starr (yes, the Beatle) dazzled in a commercial for Pizza Hut’s crust-stuffed pizza. As interestingly noted by The Telegraph: “Weirdly, Starr has never eaten a slice of pizza in real life due to severe allergies to onions, garlic, and spices, and can be glimpsed at the very end of his Pizza Hut advert trying very hard not to actually insert a slice into his mouth.” Go figure!
Paris Hilton has been tapped twice for Carl’s Jr campaigns, first in 2005 and then again in 2014. The most recent one shows the hotel heiress her wearing a bathing suit and saying ‘that’s hot’ at the end. #PlotTwist.
Back in 2010, Drake starred in the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign. In a turn of events too crazy not to mention, Drake’s house was actually later robbed in 2017 and the burglar, a 24-year-old woman, was caught wearing one of Drake’s hoodies while enjoying the one thing she stole: A CAN OF SPRITE.created for Sprite’s
As part of Chili’s 2002 promotion of *NYSNC’s “Celebrity Tour,” the band created 2 renditions of the “Baby Backs Ribs” jingle. This commercial—in which the group sings a capella on a stranded island about the fast-casual chain—is a particular gem of early-2000s pop culture.
Tapped as the new face of McDonald's dollar menu back in January, Teigen starred as her best self in a commercial that aired during the peak of award show season. The spot involves a hungry Teigen leaving mid-fictional-award-show to go to a drive-through and order a “they never feed you at those things” meal. Teigen then returns to the award show and to the delight of the fancily dressed people around her, shares her order.
Following Ashton’s bellyflop of a campaign for Pop Chips, Katy Perry was tapped for the brand, appearing in four print ads back in 2012. The ads feature jokes about vampires and fake boobs (“nothing fake about ‘em”) in addition to decently witty food puns (“spare me the guilt chip”).
Harry Styles and Drew Brees debate who deserves to get Pepsi first in this 2012 commercial: someone with a platinum album or a person who's won a Super Bowl. The argument is resolved when a 1D member suggests that Brees can join the band if he lets Harry have the first Pepsi. Compromise!
Back in 1999, a pre-Breaking Bad Aaron Paul starred in a very 90’s (the spike-y hair, the short-sleeve shirt over the long-sleeve shirt, the necklace) Corn Pops commercial.
Back in the mid-90’s, Jane Lynch starred in a hilarious Kellogg’s commercial titled, “Stalking Tony the Tiger.” Though the spot is only 30 seconds, the commercial has largely been credited for kicking off Lynch’s career. The commercial’s director, Christopher Guest, : the cult classic Best in Show.
In one of JLa's earliest acting gigs, she starred as the girlfriend of a Whopper Jr. hamburger in this Burger King spot from way back in the day. (Seriously, how many celebrities have flirted with hamburgers at this point??)
First off, “Must be the honey” is quite possibly the best food pun of all time. Nelly starred in the 2013 campaign of the same name, produced by Saatchi & Saatchi. Ahead of the collaboration, Nelly gave this witty quote to the press: "I've worked with some very talented artists and thought, I think it's about time I work with the Bee."
Tapped as a global ambassador for Pepsi back in 2012, the first commercial in the Nicki-Pepsi collaboration saw a mannequin challenge (before those became an annoying thing two years ago) and a catchy remix to “Moment for Life.”
So, um, this 1996 commercial has a considerably cringe-worthy synopsis to grapple with in 2018: Bill Cosby raps about kids going crazy for grape Jell-O, surrounded by a group of happy children. A young Lindsay Lohan appears in the background.
Back in 1983, Michael Jackson teamed up with director Bob Girardi to remix "Billie Jean" for the Pepsi Generation. The $5 million partnership broke the record for a celebrity endorsement deal at the time. The legendary video boasts 79 million views and counting on YouTube.