It’s no longer just a matter of Avril Lavign vamping for Canon versus Ashton Kutcher’s antics for Nikon.

Tech companies seem bent on recruiting celebrities not just to pose for their products but actually “star” as designers of their gadgets.

Nestor Arellano

The latest recruit in this recent trend in Black Eyed Peas front man will.iam who was named Director if Creative Innovation for Intel. Will.i.am’s appointment came at the heels of Polaroid’s announcement at the CES 2011 that Lady Gaga was the new creative director for the company.

The practice of hiring celebrities to front for tech products is nothing new. But as far as marketing celebs as product designers, Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood probably had the jump on Will and Lady Gaga in helping tech get its sexy back.

As far back as 2007, Atwood, author of books such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Blind Assassin, was being reported to have helped in designing the LongPen.

The gadget developed by Toronto-based Unotchit Inc., copies a hand-written signature with a robotic arm, allowing remote autograph sessions complete with videoconferencing. In other words, Atwood could be signing books for fans in England even while she’s in her home in Canada.


A year later, ITBusiness.ca caught another Canadian celebrity, David Suzuki, promoting the LongPen.

Will consumers actually believe Atwood, no matter how many futuristic novels she wrote, had a hand in designing a robotic arm? She’s always in front of them, so would you say that Lady Gaga is the best person to design a camera? Will you buy a laptop with a will.i.am designed Intel chip inside?

Who knows? He sounded sincere enough when he took on his new job:  “Nearly everything I do involves processors and computers, and when I see an Intel chip I think of all the creative minds involved that help to amplify my own creativity,” will.i.am told Intel employees during the announcement of his appointment.

“Teaming up with the scientists, researchers and computer programmers at Intel to collaborate and co-develop new ways to communicate, create, inform and entertain is going to be amazing,” he said.

Actually, between recording new albums, going on concert tours, appearing in corporate gigs and donning meat dresses, I think will.i.am and Lady Gaga will have precious little time to devote in designing technology.

But the strategy does make for good marketing. Everyone is in on the secret. People are not going to buy computers with Intel chips or Polaroid camera’s because their favourite singer designed them. They’ll probably buy it though because of the association with these celebrities.

I only hope that this trend doesn’t result in more expensive gadgets. How much do you think would Jessica Alba charge for designing the next iPad?

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  • Andrew

    Misleading article title

    • Not at all Andrew. If you read through the article you’d know why.

  • Dave

    Too many spelling & grammar mistakes. This was annoying to read after the 5th mistake in just a short article.