Why Some PR Stunts Fail

Celebrity-led brand stunts can be a hit or miss. From Ryan Reynolds’ funny Twitter takeover to Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi disaster, they can go either way. However, there is a way for brands to find success and avoid disaster. Brands need to remember that success is not guaranteed. 

Careful planning and consideration of all factors can help increase the chances of a positive outcome. But even the biggest stars can fail if the approach is inauthentic, irrelevant, or insensitive.

Authenticity is key

When a celeb truly embodies a brand’s values, sparks fly. A great example is Ryan Reynolds’ playful Twitter antics perfectly mirroring his comedic persona for Mint Mobile, or Emma Watson’s genuine passion for sustainability shining through in her Patagonia campaign.


Uniqueness is king. Everyone remembers Beyoncé’s surprise “Lemonade” album drop with its accompanying visual masterpiece or the head-scratching-yet-iconic humor of Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln commercials. Different is good.


Stay fresh by tapping into current trends. Cardi B’s unfiltered Uber Eats reviews leveraged her social media power and resonated with audiences seeking real opinions. Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s Hello Bello capitalized on the demand for natural baby products, a choice that aligned with their own parenting values.


Interactive elements create buzz and boost reach. Interactive elements can create a buzz and amplify reach. Consider Kylie Jenner’s social media savvy, which has helped her build a massive following and engage her audience in innovative ways. LEGO’s “Build With Me” campaign featuring celebrities like Chris Pratt encouraged families to play along, building brand love through engagement.

Emotional connection

Humor, heartwarming moments, or social impact can forge lasting bonds. George Clooney’s Nespresso partnership highlighting clean water access went beyond just coffee, striking a chord with audiences on a deeper level. Pink’s collaboration with CoverGirl celebrated diversity and female empowerment, showcasing the brand’s values and connecting with a wider audience.

Inorganic fit

Inauthentic partnerships erode trust. Everyone saw Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad using a can of soda to connect with protestors. It was deemed one-deaf and insensitive and it backfired spectacularly. Likewise, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop products often face accusations of being overpriced and lacking scientific backing, raising questions about her genuine endorsement.


Constant celebrity endorsements can become predictable and lose their punch. Kim Kardashian’s endless stream of sponsored posts risks audience fatigue and skepticism about her true interest in the products.

Negative publicity

Scandals or controversies can taint both brand and celebrity. Pepsi’s tone-deaf ad and Kendall Jenner’s involvement drew major backlash. Similarly, celebs promoting dubious detox products often face accusations of exploiting health concerns for personal gain.

Hype without substance

Many celebrity clothing lines criticized for being overpriced and lacking design innovation fall into this category. Celebrity fragrances often face similar criticism for being generic and unmemorable.

Exploiting social issues

Using sensitive topics for marketing can be offensive and backfire. Celebrities promoting unproven weight loss products or miracle cures often face criticism for preying on insecurities and exploiting vulnerable audiences.

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