The 20 Strangest Celebrity Tech Endorsements
When it comes to marketing, few tactics are as tried and true as the celebrity endorsement. Having an iconic person stand behind a brand, after all, can build buzz and make a product memorable.
That's how it's supposed to work, anyway. Sometimes, celebrity endorsements just make you scratch your head and wonder what the hell the company was thinking.
Here are 20 of tech's most unlikely celeb-product pairings.
1. Elvira for LBMS
Our first ill-fated endorsement is an oldie but a goodie: The one and only Elvira strutting her stuff for LBMS's project management program. The ad may have been titillating, but I don't think buying software is what it inspired people to do.
2. Snoop Dogg for the Samsung Galaxy Indulge
Come on -- you can't tell me you didn't chuckle when you heard Snoop Dogg was the new spokesperson for MetroPCS's latest Android phone. Snoop even temporarily changed his name to "Snoop Dogggg" in honor of the phone's 4G capabilities (yes, seriously).
On the plus side, the concept is slightly less awkward than Snoop's previous cell phone campaign, which had him walking out of a fridge and singing in German.
I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
3. Mr. T for Hitachi Data Systems
I pity the fool who doesn't find the notion of Mr. T hawking data storage ridiculous. Does anyone actually believe the T-Man knew what he was talking about when he filmed this geek-aimed ad?
4. Nicole Kidman for Nintendo DS Game "Brain Age 2"
Call me crazy, but when I think of Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman -- known for her subdued style and classy demeanor -- portable Nintendo games aren't the first thing that pop into my mind. Yet Kidman somehow signed on to promote "Brain Age 2," a Nintendo DS game released in 2007.
And the winner for weirdest product endorsement is...
5. Holly Madison for Travelocity
For the love of William Shatner, how anyone thought Holly Madison would be a good match for a travel website is beyond me. Madison, best known as the former plaything of Playboy principal Hugh Hefner, represented Travelocity in a series of strange ads back in 2009. Most memorably, she pretended to marry a garden gnome. (It's evidently the site's mascot -- or something. Search me.)
Apologies in advance, but it has to be said: At least we know Holly's perfectly comfortable pretending to love a brittle old dude for money.
6. Verne Troyer for Klegg MP3 Player
He was great as Mini Me, sure, but would Verne Troyer's pouting face really make you want to buy an MP3 player? Klegg Electronics clearly thought so when it hired the pint-sized actor to represent its Mini music device (not to be confused with Apple's iPod Mini) in 2006.
I don't have any official figures here, but I'm betting Mini Me brought in some pretty small sales.
7. Robbie Williams for the Samsung Galaxy Tab
When you seek out a spokesperson, you usually want someone who's enthusiastic about your product. By that measure, Samsung struck out with British pop star Robbie Williams, who -- along with his Take That bandmates -- awkwardly held Galaxy Tabs during a tour announcement last fall.
"We like technology," Williams stammered amid laughs when reporters asked about the band's tablets. "Samsung is great. And we've always done it. It is the best ones. And they love us. And it's important that we do singing, and then put these with us."
Well, that certainly makes me want to run out and buy one. How 'bout you?
8. Lady Gaga for Polaroid
I know, I know: An aging brand teaming up with a current star makes perfect sense. But you've gotta admit, the very idea of Lady Gaga representing Polaroid is just a bit...bizarre.
That said, a meat-covered camera would be pretty cool.
9. Will.i.am for Intel
Pop quiz: What's worse than a famously quirky pop star signing on to represent a camera company? A lessfamously quirky pop star signing on to represent a processor chip company, of course.
I'll take "trying too hard to be hip" for $500, Alex.
10. The Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman for a Metal Detector
We're used to celebrities putting their names on random products (Bruce Willis cologne, anyone?). When the bassist from the Rolling Stones comes out with his own branded metal detecting gizmo, though, somethingreally doesn't seem right.
I mean, come on: We already lost Ozzy to the dark side of rock-gods-turned-regular-dorks. What's next--Metallica launching a legal battle against music sharing?
Oh, wait a minute...
11. Luke Wilson for AT&T
Remember when the not-quite-funny-but-nonthreatening-and-likeable guy from that one movie tried to convince us that AT&T didn't actually suck? Yeah, something didn't quite add up there.
12. Akon for Verizon Wireless
Note to carriers: When your controversial-rapper-turned-spokesman gets caught grinding up against a pastor's underage daughter, it's a sign that you need to re-evaluate your selection process. I hear Owen Wilson's available.
13. Nicole Richie for T-Mobile Sidekick
Note to tech companies: Just because someone is the sidekick to one of the world's most obnoxious untalented celebrities doesn't mean she should be your product's spokesperson. Even if said product is called the Sidekick.
14. Ben Stein and Shaq for Comcast
Ben Stein and Shaquille O'Neal selling Comcast's HD Triple Play service? Do we really need to say more?
15. John Lennon for OLPC
File this one under "just plain wrong": In 2008, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation used John Lennon's likeness to promote its organization's laptop donation program. The group went as far as to hire a voice-over actor and manipulate old video footage to make it seem like Lennon himself was actually delivering the ad.
Imagine really bad judgment. It isn't hard to do...
16. Alan Alda for IBM
There's nothing wrong with Alan Alda. But seeing him shill computers for IBM--while paddling in an inflatable canoe, at that--easily qualifies as an odd experience.
17. John Cleese for Compaq
What do you get when you combine the star of Monty Python with a line of computers from the mid-80s?
Well...you get this:
18. Danica Patrick for Go Daddy
While I certainly don't mind seeing the lovely Ms. Patrick every time I sign in to manage my domains, I've never quite understood the connection between a sexy racing star and an Internet registrar. I'm not complaining, mind you--but it's an unlikely pairing if I've ever seen one.
19. Jerry Seinfeld for Microsoft
What's the deal with that Microsoft-Seinfeld ad campaign? Jerry Seinfeld's short-lived run as master of Microsoft's domain left most of the world in a state of confusion. The commercials, fittingly, were more or less about nothing: One spot featured Seinfeld and Bill Gates shopping for shoes and eating churros; another saw the dynamic duo having an awkward dinner with a random family.
Amid heavy criticism, the Seinfeld era abruptly ended after those two ads--proving, once and for all, that Microsoft is a bad breaker-upper.
20. Hulk Hogan for Calling Service 10-10-220
Hulk, oh Hulk. You famously missed your shot at making millions with your Hulk Hogan Ultimate Grill (damn that George Foreman and his impeccable timing!). More mystifying than your momentary role as chef, though, was your stint as spokesperson for the once-popular calling service 10-10-220.
We love you, Hulk--but imitating Rodin's "Thinker" might not be the most fitting role for a wrestler famous for his handlebar moustache and habitual overuse of the word "brother."
That said, we'll take this over your singing about air conditioners any day.