Slideshow

Techiest celebrity endorsements

Jerry Seinfeld pitching for Microsoft Windows Vista is just latest in long line of such tech ad campaigns.

  • Christina Aguilera: Like a Virgin Mobile Some ads are just so plain, uh, creative that they only make it in the UK and not the US. The Grammy Award-winning singer gets caught on camera phone performing "a different kind of music."

  • Before basketball stars Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade were ribbing each other in T-Mobile's Fave Five ads, Whoopi Goldberg pushed MCI's Friends & Family plan. Even Dime Lady Candice Bergen got into the act endorsing Sprint's old The Most plan, a precursor of sorts to these other plans.

  • Remember getting dizzy from the number of times you saw that Apple iPod ad featuring U2's "Vertigo" song back in 2004? Apple even came out with a black and red 20GB iPod U2 Special Edition.

  • John Cleese: Don’t watch this commercial That was one of the funnyman's messages in these 1980s Compaq ads, including one where he was frustrated with Compaq's claim that its desktop was built with "32 pieces of a bus." In another, he tries to make it easier to remember the name Compaq by associating a word with each letter of the name though doesn't quite get the order right: Computers Often Make People Quite Angry.

  • From 1981 to 1987 IBM used a mime to recreate Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp character to help it sell the public on Big Blue's move into microcomputers. Another famously quiet character, the Pink Panther, later pitched for IBM in TV ads in the 1990s. IBM's PC business was silenced for good in 2004 when the company sold it off to Lenovo.

  • Claudia Schiffer and the model Palm handheld The German-born supermodel in 2000 began promoting the Palm Vx Claudia Schiffer Edition on her Web site. As it turns out, the blue brushed-metal version didn't take the market by storm. And as one colleague noted, Schiffer looks to be holding up a lot better than Palm these days.

  • Windows 95 just wants to be "Friends" Jerry Seinfeld isn't the first "Must See TV" star to pitch for Microsoft. "Friends" stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry teamed up on an instructional video boasting of the world's first "Cyber Sitcom." Perry gets a chance to use Bill Gates' computer, which he equates to using Wayne Gretzky's hockey stick.

  • "It's the year 2000. Where are the flying cars?" That's the question posed by Avery Brooks from the TV show "Deep Space 9" in this ad about Lotus software from IBM. Hasn’t he ever seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Flying cars are soooo 1960s.

  • Mr. T: The "T" in I.T. Classic Hitachi Data Systems ad from 2007 in which the ageless Rocky III and A-Team star teaches us a thing or two about virtualization. "You talk about storage tiers? Hitachi's so good it brings its competition to tears." Of course Mr. T is among the most versatile of actors, also posing as "Inspecta Collect" in ads for 1-800-COLLECT in which he stated: "I pity the fool who don't use 1-800-COLLECT."

  • Grating comic Carrot Top pitched for 1-800 CALL-ATT and while viewers seemed to universally despise him, surveys showed they remembered the number. The ads even spurred this headline at The Onion: "No One At Ad Agency Remembers Hiring Carrot Top For Commercial." The red-hed wasn't the only one pitching supposedly cheaper ways to call during the early 2000s either, with everyone from pro wrestler and reality TV star Hulk Hogan to former pro quarterback Terry Bradshaw getting into the act.

  • Isaac Asimov and the futuristic TRS-80 The Sci-Fi legend attempted to get us into Radio Shack in the 1980s to buy the TRS-80 Word Processor even if we didn't write as much as he did.

  • While the words "sprint" and "Peyton Manning" aren't often spoken in the same sentence, a badly disguised version of the Indianapolis Colts quarterback with the strong arm got some giggles from his 2006 ad in which he sings the praises of Sprint's mobile services and of great players like...Peyton Manning himself.

  • Wayne Brady: No forklift needed for Avaya VoIP The comedian/singer got on a forklift in ads that stressed the idea that to move to Cisco VoIP, you'd need one of those vehicles, but with Avaya, moving to VoIP was a simple software upgrade. Unfortunately for Avaya, Cisco continues to drive a steamroller.

  • William Shatner and the Commodore Vic-20 Back before Priceline was a twinkle in Captain Kirk's eye, there was this 1980s computer "that unlike games has a real computer keyboard" and cost less than US$300.

  • T-Mobile: Good-bye Jamie, hello Catherine Following wireless company VoiceStream's 2001 buyout spokeswoman Jamie Lee Curtis got the boot, replaced by the newly renamed T-Mobile with international film star Catherine Zeta-Jones. Said one T-Mobile exec in a USA Today interview: "Jamie was perfect for VoiceStream when the brand was a very regional, scrappy up-and-comer. She really helped to develop the brand and became so associated with it that it became impossible to use her in a new brand." Of course, Zeta-Jones proved no match for a couple of NBA stars who have since become the face of the company.

  • The Mac Guy, the PC Guy and Gisele Supermodel Gisele Bundchen breaks the news to PC Guy John Hodgman that she's Mac Guy Justin Long's "home movie" in and where the PC home movie is a hairy guy in a similar dress. Is this what drove Microsoft to break the bank for Jerry Seinfeld?

  • Alan Alda learns Italian from his Atari The "M*A*S*H" star assures his dog that even though his new Atari computer system is his new best friend, it will never be able to chase sticks or get his slippers or lick his face. Alda and other "M*A*S*H" stars later went on to hawk IBM PS/2s.

  • Tom Selleck and AT&T assure us: You will send a fax from the beach The Magnum P.I. star did the voiceovers for a series of AT&T ads in 1993 predicting all kinds of crazy stuff, from borrowing books thousands of miles a way to paying tolls without slowing down your car. One they forgot: Will you ever see AT&T acquired? That happened in 2005.

  • Candice Bergen drops a dime for Sprint The "Murphy Brown" star and daughter of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen was also known as the Dime Lady. No, not for talking about Sprint's stock price, but rather, for her long running series of Sprint ads during the 1990s pushing the carrier's dime-a-minute offering.

  • Serena Williams, Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z...who doesn't use HP? HP has been running a slick series of ads for the past few years with assorted stars pushing its notebooks and other personal computer technologies. Stefani talks dreamily about mash-ups and Williams boasts she can send e-mails as fast as her serves. Oh yeah, and that comedian at a New York dinner.

  • Bill Cosby: From Jell-O to PCs The comedian/pitchman proved his versatility in the early 1980s by promoting the TI-99 -- "the one with all the memory and the tons of software." The one you didn't want to spill your Jell-O Pudding into.

  • Kevin Costner and the Apple LISA Technically, this isn't a celebrity endorsement since this early 1980s ad for the Apple LISA computer ran before Kevin Costner was a star. The this ad for the LISA, a computer that turned out to be a commercial failure for Apple, ran the same year Costner's part got deleted from "The Big Chill," in which he played the dead guy whose funeral reunites his group of friends. Hmmm, no symmetry there, huh?

  • Word that Microsoft is reaching deep into its pockets to get Jerry Seinfeld to pair up with Bill Gates in a series of new commercials to sell the world on Windows Vista and counter Apple's ubiquitous Mac vs. PC ads is sure to generate lots of jokes, and we're not talking about the gags in the ads themselves. For starters, Jerry is double dipping in that he also pitches for tech company HP. Not that Seinfeld is the first celebrity to hawk tech products and services. Here's a look at some of the best and worst of the rest.

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