Dell Enlists Celebrities to Beg for Customers

In a definite "outside the box" move designed to boost holiday sales, computer-maker Dell Inc. has enlisted Burt Reynolds, Ice-T, and other celebrities to help customers raise money to buy products for themselves or others. At, which launches on Friday, users will be able to create a virtual piggy bank where friends and relatives can donate money for gifts. There are tools to create e-mail distribution lists, and gift-seekers can embed their fundraising requests on their Facebook and MySpace pages. Of course, there's no way to ensure that the money is actually spent on Dell products, David Clifton, the marketing and communication director of Dell's consumer business, admits.

The e-mails are embedded with celebrity video clips, each pitch based on a theme. Actress Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza's nagging mom in the sitcom Seinfeld, solicits funds through the "guilt sell." "Not that it's any of my business, but you usually get them a thoughtless gift every year anyway," she groans. "Would it kill you to get them something nice this holiday season?"

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