17 February 2011

Undendorsed Endorsements

It's pretty common to see celebrity images reappropriated to hawk the goods of a small business. In New York, I always loved seeing Jennifer Aniston with the Rachel cut on salon windows and Jennifer Lopez circa Selena on the sign for a jeans store. Oversees, those women are just as popular and remain forever frozen in their mid to late 20s. Joining them in the ranks of the most used are Beyonce and Angelina Jolie. So, it really wasn't surprising at all to see Angie puckering down at me from this sign on the main shopping street in Chisenau, Moldova.
However, when we ran into the Governor of California on his way to fix a sink, I was a little more surprised. The Terminator's head was definitely airbrushed onto some other dude's body. Poor model probably thought he was getting his big break, only to be chopped out like an old boyfriend in a high school girl's locker picture.
This is definitely my favorite undendorsed celebrity endorsement ever. I looked up at this billboard and went, "Modern Family!" The show seemed far too new and irreverent to have been picked up in Moldova. Then, I looked closer and realized it was an ad for 40% off a trip to Turkey through Robinson Tours. What's great about this is not just that the cast of characters are neither Moldovan nor Turkish, but that no one here even knows they are a cast of characters. This isn't so much using celebrities to sell a product as it is literally ripping a photo of attractive Americans sitting on a beach in faux 1930s garb out of a magazine and throwing it up on a billboard. Then again, what says Antalya, Turkey better than two gay men, their adopted Vietnamese baby, two Colombians, five ethnically ambiguous white people and the dad from Married with Children?

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