You Can Depend on Lisa Rinna

Hi, folks!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a bit—I was stuck in the black hole that is finals. But the semester is finally coming to end, and while this blog was created as part of a class that has officially wrapped, I am pleased to report that Celebranded isn’t going anywhere!

Let us rejoice!

(I’ll give you a minute to let the joy flow you through. Don’t worry. Take your time.)

Hey, speaking of flow (I apologize for this segue)—has anyone seen Lisa Rinna’s new ad for Depend undergarments?

It’s been creating quite a bit of buzz—something that doesn’t happen all that often with an incontinence product. Take Jimmy Fallon’s musings on the topic, for example:

All the talk, of course, stems from the fact that Lisa Rinna isn’t really the target demographic for what is commonly referred to as “adult diapers.” She has freely admitted that she doesn’t use the product, but rather filmed the spot, with husband Harry Hamlin, as part of a charitable partnership between Depend and Dress for Success, a non-profit that helps low-income women secure employment.

“[Depend] donated $225,000 to Dress for Success if I tried them on in the commercial,” Rinna told the Huffington Post. “That’s why I did it. Plus, I loved their campaign…I believe women should feel good about themselves and if that means they need to talk about their problems, then absolutely. We need to help each other. I was not afraid to do this.”

Photo via The Heart Truth Fashion Show

I have to admit, I give Lisa Rinna a lot of credit for appearing in this spot, which is part of Depend’s “Great American Try-On” campaign. Even though the charitable angle arguably makes her look good, appearing in a Depend ad—especially at age 48—could still be seen as a rather risky career move. Stars don’t usually line up to have their name associated with adult diapers and bladder control problems. It’s just not…sexy.

Which of course brings us to Ms. Rinna, who struts the red carpet in an undetectable Depend Silhouette undergarment to show women that they can be sexy and confident in spite of a rather embarrassing—though not uncommon—health problem. I think it’s an important message. I also think the ad and product stand a decent chance of eliminating at least some of the shame many women must feel when they purchase bulky adult diapers and then struggle to hide any evidence that they’re wearing them.

I do wonder if it might have been better for Depend to secure someone closer in age—but still hip and attractive—to the target audience (a Helen Mirren type, for example). For the consumer, that kind of celeb might be able to lend more credibility to the product, since she would at least be of an age where problems like incontinence become a bigger issue. After all, Lisa Rinna has the confidence of knowing she doesn’t really need an adult diaper, and it might be a little off-putting to have a women under 50 telling a woman of, say, 70, that adult diapers really aren’t that bad.

But, in the end, that kind of ad probably wouldn’t be generating nearly as much publicity as Lisa Rinna’s spot. I would also guess that even just starting a public conversation about incontinence helps some women feel a little less embarrassed about the whole thing. And, gentlemen—in case you were worried that Depend had forgotten about its male consumers, fear not! The NFL’s Clay Matthews, Wes Welker, and DeMarcus Ware have tried on the brand’s “Real Fit for Men” undergarments to benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which is working to find cures for diseases like prostate cancer (which can affect bladder control).

See, guys—adult diapers don’t have to hold you back from wearing spandex, either!

Benevolent Bribes

How much would you pay to watch Morgan Freeman spend an afternoon narrating amateur animal videos?

Would you fork over some cash to experience Celine Dion belting out George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex”?

Is catching a glimpse of Donald Trump’s bed head worth a couple of bucks to you?

Thanks to a new site called Charity Bribes, these are questions you may soon be able to wrestle with, all in the name of goodwill.

Created by copywriters William Burks Spencer and Chris Baker, Charity Bribes invites members of the general public to come up with ideas for amusing celebrity high jinks—e.g., Morgan Freeman getting all March of the Penguins on your home video of Fluffy the Cat falling into the toilet—and submit them to the site, along with the name of a charity. Users can then vote on their favorite suggestions, and every 30 days the idea with the most votes is selected as the winning bribe.

This bribe is then used to garner pledges from the public that will only turn into donations for the specified charity if the celebrity makes good on the challenge within the next 30 days. If not, the pledges will be null and void.

What makes this whole premise really interesting is that the celebrity has no buy-in (or, potentially, knowledge of the situation) until Charity Bribes approaches them at some point during or just after their 30-day pledge drive. This, of course, adds a juicy element of uncertainty to the whole occasion.

Photo by David Shankbone

The site’s first target is Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David. As of publication, 70 people have pledged a total of $7,452 in the hopes that he will join Twitter. If he does, the National Resources Defense Council will receive a nice donation.

“We think it’d be awesome. He would have millions of followers,” Baker said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “On Curb [Your Enthusiasm], he’s always been a bumbling idiot when it comes to tech. It’d be funny to see him on Twitter.”

Baker and Spencer have openly admitted they have no idea how they will get in touch with Mr. David once the pledging window ends on Friday—and as of yet, if the star has heard about this project, he hasn’t reached out.

When it comes to creating bribes like the Twitter challenge, the site’s founders have set some ground rules to keep things functional and aboveboard. These specify that a good bribe:

  • is something awesome
  • is easy and inexpensive for the celebrity to do
  • is verifiable and has some “end-product” that is produced
  • is creative
  • is not crude, offensive, mean, or endangers anyone’s safety
  • is fun
  • benefits a worthy charity that is established and reputable
  • benefits a charity that either the celebrity has a history of supporting or makes sense given the nature of the bribes

Launched just last month, Charity Bribes has already attracted a fair amount of publicity, although its success will likely hinge on the results of the first bribe or two. If Larry David doesn’t pan out, it looks like the next challenge will dare Conan O’Brien to interview a guest on his show while wearing an eye patch and turtleneck, holding a pipe, and insisting “I don’t want to talk about it” if asked about his getup (in this case, to benefit Autism Speaks).

I have to admit, I really like the Charity Bribes idea in theory, and there is certainly the potential for this to pay off for all players involved—the charity gets money, publicity, and a celebrity endorsement; the celebrity boosts his own brand by being a sport and doing some good; and the public at large basks in the glow of being part of a collective charitable effort.

That being said, I also have a few reservations about the endeavor, the first being that it seems a little, I don’t know…icky?…to treat charitable giving almost like a game show. I don’t have a problem with the “fun” aspect of it. Fun is great! Hell, what school principal hasn’t agreed to hit the dunk tank if her students raise $X for their local walk to end hunger, save the rainforest, adopt a dolphin, etc. But it just seems wrong somehow to gather, say, $25,000 in pledges for the ASPCA, and then shrug your shoulders and let it slip away when Sarah McLachlan doesn’t feel comfortable performing a concert dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog. (Yes, I just made that up.) It also has the potential to make celebs look like the bad guy if they don’t or can’t come through, which seems a little unfair given their intentional absence from the whole process.

Of course, on the plus side, this unique approach might also attract folks who don’t normally donate to charity, and if it works, I bet a lot of those people would find themselves becoming repeat donors through other amusing Charity Bribes challenges.

Since the site is barely a month old, there are still some kinks to work out—such as the fact that they are not currently registered as a 501(c)3 charity and can’t guarantee that donors will be issued receipts from the featured charities (although they are working on this). I’m also wondering if the 30-day time limit for completion of the challenges will ultimately be extended, because it does seem a little rushed for folks who likely have some pretty hectic schedules to keep.

In the end, I do hope the crazy, feel-good element of this idea results in some real benefits to worthy organizations and some amusing publicity for all concerned—because seriously, I would pay to watch Morgan Freeman recite just about anything. (Like a Twinkie, like a Twinkie…)