There is a huge and much-varied history when it comes to celebrity endorsements of and appearances in different products or media. This goes back to the 18th century when some organisations used royal endorsements to promote their product or service. Video games are no different and as the industry has grown, celebrity endorsements and cameos within the games themselves have become much more common place. From the portrayal of Bruce Lee in the game ‘Bruce Lee’ in 1984 to the likes of Aaron Paul (most famous for portraying Jesse in Breaking Bad) promoting the launch of the Xbox One in 2014.
Video games aren’t the only types of games to have celebrity endorsements, either. For example, bingo is a hugely popular game played by people from all walks of life and celebrity endorsements have been a key element of its marketing and promotion.
As Sue Dawson from Best New Bingo Sites explains, “there’s a long history of celebrity guest appearances at online bingo sites, some of the most notable being Paris Hilton as the face of BGO Bingo, ex Spice Girl Mel B at Costa Bingo and of course the Queen Of Bingo herself, the late great Barbara Windsor at Jackpotjoy. All of those were a few years ago now but we’ve still got Rustie Lee and friends at the aptly named Bingo All Stars and recently,the Sinnerman and the Vixen from the TV quiz show The Chase have been appearing on the live stream at Gala Bingo.”
This just shows the ubiquity of the celebrity attachment to a product within gaming and consoles like the Xbox aren’t strangers to this, either.
Cameos within Xbox games
In addition to the console itself being promoted by celebrities. We have also seen games featuring great celebrity cameos. The Fable series has been one of the Xbox’s key series since the original console launched and is full of celebrity voices. John Cleese, Ben Kingsley and Zoë Wanamaker all feature in the game.
They aren’t the only celebrities to have featured in recent video games. Kiefer Sunderland took a break from being the all-action Jack Bauer to feature in the recent instalment of the iconic Metal Gear Solid series.
The actor Kit Harrington has had a number of major roles in TV and film, but he also appeared in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. In the game, Kit voices the evil Salen Kotch. The whole Call of Duty series has been known for including the voices of well-known actors and celebrities.
Another obvious series to look at is FIFA. Whilst the game has endorsed by many footballers and aims to display their true likeness, the game also features celebrities in different aspects of the game. For example, celebrities often have their Ultimate Teams highlighted in the Squad Battles mode. The Volta football mode features many non-football celebrities, including Dua Lipa and Lewis Hamilton.
Celebrity endorsements in other entertainment industries
Of course, video games aren’t the only form of entertainment which has utilised the talents and marketing power of celebrity. The Simpsons has featured a huge number of celebrities voicing themselves over the course of its history. Leonard Nimoy, Simon Cowell, and even Tony Blair have all been involved. In fact, it has become something of a running joke that Springfield is now a revolving door of celebrities (sort of) showing their faces for a couple of minutes, and is all the poorer for it.
Beyond TV and video games, it’s not unusual for celebrities to lend their name as a form of recommendation for books – here’s looking at Oprah. Occasionally, you’ll even find celebrities contributing the foreword to books. British comedian Romesh Ranganathan wrote an introduction to Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces, based on his popular podcast.
This all just shows that there can sometimes be nothing better than a famous face giving a product or piece of work the thumbs up, be that through working on it or explicitly endorsing it.