Celebrity tech endorsements are always an interesting marketing move as a company tries to slap an instantly recognizable face to their brand name. We have seen this happen time and time again, and while it’s hard to measure the success of these marketing efforts, brands continue to pursue the celebrities with their checkbooks.
Lenovo recently hopped on this bandwagon by signing up Ashton Kutcher to help sell their new Yoga tablet, but Lenovo is not alone. It seems like nearly all tech companies have asked a celebrity to endorse a product (and likely were paid with a check with many zeroes on it) but not all endorsements end well. Sometimes the celebrity gets caught up in a scandal, or does something stupid in the face of the public and has their name tarnished, and other times they get caught using a competitors product.
In a quick look-back at some of the more awkward celebrity endorsements, we have compiled a list of 5 endorsements that seemed to miss the mark.
When launching new products, why not grab one of the hottest names in music? That’s what Polaroid decided to do when it linked up with Lady Gaga back in 2011 to launch a wireless mobile printer and glasses that can take a photo.
Lady Gaga Polaroid Sunglasses
Polaroid went as far to name her the ‘creative director’ for the company, but considering that the ‘grey label’ sunglasses, that were most anticipated product from the mashup, never made it to the market, her authority at the company must have been limited.
For that matter, Lady Gaga's time with Polaroid is nothing more than a glamour shot at trying to attract Gaga’s massive fan base to the Polaroid brand. The endorsement did not appear to have had a large impact on its sales and the one product Gaga likely worked on at Polaroid, appears to have been canned which makes this endorsement, a bit embarrassing.
Back in 2008, Microsoft linked up with Jerry Seinfeld to create a series of commercials. The commercials featured Gates and Seinfeld in a variety of clips that were generally quite odd. Microsoft went on to say that the clips were intended to be a bit confusing so that consumers would pay more attention to other promotions (seriously, we couldn't make this stuff up even if we tried).
It’s one thing to team up with a celebrity to help sell a product but the Gates/Seinfeld commercials likely did little to help consumer perception of Microsoft. Microsoft later pulled the commercials and replaced them with the "Windows 7 was my idea" advertisements. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this won’t be their biggest flop on the list, as they have had more recent troubles with using celebrities to help sell their products.
Remember Google TV? The product that Google thought would change how we watch TV and would finally present a UI that would work from your couch flopped, hard. On the fail-boat that was Google TV was Logitech who singed up Kevin Bacon to help sell the set-top box that ultimately was canceled by the company.
Bacon was unable to help move units off of retail shelves and even the CEO of Logitech called the Revue a big mistake.
In reality, it didn’t matter what celebrity endorsed Google TV. The product was a flop for Google, a massive expenditure for Logitech and for Bacon? Well, it goes to show a celebrity can’t help to sell a bad product.
Blackberry, the company that everyone has written-off and who is looking for someone to buy them so they don’t go bankrupt, recently paired up with Alicia Keys.
The company let Keys become a ‘Creative Director’ at the company likely in an attempt to assign a celebrity to the Blackberry brand. While we do not know if Keys has any background in UI or UX or even the marketing of smartphones, it doesn’t really matter as she recently sent a tweet using her iPhone
What the h*ll?!!!! Looks like I've been hacked... I like @Drake but that wasn't my tweet :-(— Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) February 11, 2013
Oops, you would think that Keys would be expected to use a Blackberry, seeing as the company was paying her a modest sum of money to be the face of the company, but that’s not the case. Although, it doesn’t really matter, as Blackberry has more issues to worry about instead of Keys using an iPhone.
Yes, we do know that Keys said she was 'hacked' and that's why a tweet went out from an iPhone on her account. But if you were to hack a celebrities Twitter account and all you intended to do was make one Tweet from an iPhone, it seems like a waste of time.
Image Credit: Getty Images/Stephen Lovekin
Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform got off to a slow start, and to help the company move more units they signed up Jessica Alba to help sell the devices. While the company didn’t go as far as Polaroid and Blackberry and assign Alba a ‘role’ within the company, they did likely splash some cash in her direction to get her face next to a Windows Phone.
Alba made an appearance on stage next to Joe Belfiore but like the Blackberry deal with Keys, Alba was recently spotted with her iPhone, and even though her contract with Microsoft reportedly ended in May, it shows she has dumped her Windows Phone for an iPhone. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your product if your spokesperson dumps your device as soon as the contract expires.
While not an official endorsement, Oprah said last year that she loved the Surface so much, she was going to give them to her staff. Well, she apparently loves the Surface so much that she tweeted it from her iPad.
Microsoft said that Oprah’s endorsement of the Surface was not a paid advertisement and that she did it on her own accord, so it’s not technically a failed endorsement but still makes for an odd product backing from the celebrity.
Celebrity endorsements are always a risky bet for any company, as you never know what the individual might do when the cameras turn off. Sometimes, they may actually enjoy the product but the list above proves that this is not always the case.
While we wait to see if Ashton Kutcher is spied using a tablet besides Lenovo’s new Yoga, it would not surprise us to see him eventually use a Surface or an iPad down the road.