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A Look Back at Proactiv's Comical History of Celebrity Endorsements

“I am in awe of Kendall’s bravery and willingness to be vulnerable and raw in order to help others. Game. Change. She’s a hero."

By Meghan McKenna

Date January 8, 2019

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Over the weekend, Momager Kris Jenner took to social media to prep the world for an earth-shattering tale of heroism from her supermodel daughter, Kendall Jenner. “I’m so proud of my darling @KendallJenner for being so brave and vulnerable. Seeing you share [your] most raw story in order to make a positive impact for so many people and help foster a positive dialogue is a testament to the incredible woman you’ve become.”

The mystery! The anticipation!! What could this forthcoming announcement possibly reveal about everyone’s favourite Pepsi activist, and how was she going to inspire her 100 million Instagram followers to #bethechange?

The answer was so simple, so clear, I’m surprised so few anticipated it: Jenner has been named the new celebrity spokesperson for Hollywood’s go-to acne solution, Proactiv. It all makes so much sense. The timing of the commercial reveal coincided with the Golden Globes, and has Jenner sharing an anecdote about the mass press coverage her skin received at last year’s award show.

“I got on the carpet, I felt really good about myself,” she says in the ad, “I loved my dress and my hair, and my makeup was so beautiful. Then I remember going online and seeing all the horrible things people were saying about me and my skin. I felt so good that I completely forgot that I had bad skin. Then I remember getting a couple of tweets, that became a lot of tweets, of how proud people were of me. And I was like, ‘oh wait, this is actually kind of cool.'”

Proactiv was, for a undisclosed fee, gracious enough to let Jenner tell her story of skin transformation on behalf of their brand. “I am in awe of Kendall’s bravery and willingness to be vulnerable and raw in order to help others. Game. Change. She’s a hero,” says Charles Ressler, Proactiv’s vice president of creative services, in the press release. “Kendall’s story is unbelievably compelling, and most importantly — it’s real. Her skin transformation continues to be staggering, she loves Proactiv as much as we do, and most importantly she did this with her whole, very big, incredibly genuine heart.”

And with her whole, very big, incredibly genuine cheque, I’m sure. Help from the Kardashian-Jenner enterprise doesn’t come for free. According to Hopper HQ’s annual “Instagram Rich List,” Kendall Jenner sponcon will set you back $500,000 per Instagram post, with no estimate for how much an endorsement deal will cost. But that’s Proactiv’s business model. The acne-fighting brand has a long history of tapping money-hungry celebrities—in combination with miraculous before vs. after customer testimonials—to promote their multi-step skincare routine in their infomercials. Their formula is foolproof: handpick an influential personality, purchase a paparazzi shot of them with acne, zoom in on the zit, and then transition to the famous face featuring glowing skin and sharing their “personal truth” of transformation. Bonus points if they call themselves a “normal person.”

At some point between the acne close ups and relatable anecdotes, we’re meant to forget that these people of wealth and status have access to the chemical peels, LED light treatments and caviar-infused moisturizers reserved for the richest of the rich. After all, when your career is built on looking good, it’s unlikely that you’re relying on a $19.95 subscription box sold on TV and at mall kiosks to keep your breakouts under control. And so, before you go dialling 1-800-END-ACNE at the will of Jenner’s emotionally-charged campaign of “bravery,” let’s take a look back through Proactiv’s history of celebrity testimonials. When you type the personal stories out, and turn the zit zooms into GIFS, the catalogue of endorsements won’t persuade you to buy the product, but it will make you laugh.

GIF Katy Perry

“Yeah, you’d think I would be the most confident person. But the most confident person still has their moments, and a lot of my most insecure moments related to my face,” Perry says in the ad. “I finally decided I just have nothing to use, so I decided to try Proactiv.”

GIF Lindsay Lohan

“I’m a normal person and I do get zits. And I’m not happy when I do,” Lohan says in the 2006 commercial. “[Proactiv] is three steps and it’s easy to take with you. It’s also easy to travel with, which I find really good. I actually think I keep some in my car too.”

GIF Avril Lavigne

“I feel relieved to not have a bunch of zits on my face,” Lavigne says, “because it’s annoying to have acne on your face. It changed my life, you know.”

GIF Justin Bieber

“There are some things that just come with being a teenager. Your feet grow like crazy (can’t stop that), your hormones kick in (I don’t want to stop that) and then there’s zits (I can stop that),” a fresh-faced teen Bieber says in the 2010 ad.

GIF Jessica Simpson

“So whether I’m facing a million fans or shooting a music video, one thing is always clear — my skin,” Simpson, one of the most recognizable Proactiv partners, says in the ad.

GIF Kelly Clarkson

“My skin, it’s my job. So obviously I don’t want to look like a pizza,” American Idol-winner Clarkson says in the five-minute informercial, “I already have enough people judging everything I do. I don’t need them judging my skin.”

GIF Alicia Keys

“I know the beauty that I have and the beauty that is inside of me, but there is a certain feeling that you feel naturally when your skin just doesn’t look very nice,” Keys says in the skincare commercial, “It’s kind of like, you know, taboo.”

GIF Julianne Hough

“Having acne takes the joy out of so many situations: posing for pictures; going on dates; parties,” Hough says in the ad, “clear skin is sexy skin.”

GIF P. Diddy

“I couldn’t be in the public eye with pimples all on my face. You feel me? I didn’t want no lumps on my face,” Sean Combs says in the promo video. “One of the things about Proactiv is that it moisturizes my situation. It preserves my sexy.”

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