Don’t believe the hype. Can celebrities save tech companys?

On Saturday my partner Jay Kenobi posted news about Aston Kutcher and his work with Lenovo. Is this by another tech company to cash in on the hype and profile such a celebrity brings. It seems that way.

We’ve seen this happen before one example being Blackberry who brought on Alicia Keys as Global Creative Director when they launched the new Blackberry 10 smartphones. Viewed by many as a simple PR move, Keys left the company in January 2014 after only a year.

Blackberry said that Keys involvement was much more than that and she was to help shape all aspects of the brand including  a scholarship program designed to help young women embrace the science and technology fields. When Blackberry 10 smartphones failed to sell much and the company has started to move away from pushing devices, Keys was let go.

Now Lenovo itself is in a substantially different place than Blackberry is and the company certainly isn’t struggling. This seems to be a trend with big tech company’s these hiring a celebrity to help pump up the brand and generate sales. It can help or hinder them but I’m wondering if someone like Kutcher will make any significant impact on product design, development or vision the way someone like Jobs did.

Perhaps by aligning with Kutcher and his well-known profile in addition to his portrayal of Steve Jobs in Jobs, a 2013 movie, Lenovo is hoping that they too have found the next visionary of the tech world. Kutcher went so far as to  adopt some of Jobs’ unique habits on diet to get in character as well.

Jobs the man, myth and legend are unique to him and him alone and no one can duplicate what he did. I’m not saying this as a rabid Apple fan boy but rather as someone who read Walter Isaacon’s Jobs in-depth and came away with the sense that what made Jobs was his upbringing, the things that happened to him in his life and his experiences made him who he was. That if anything shaped an already profound gift for thinking differently and pushing the boundaries not celebrity.

Jobs, well-known for creating the reality distortion field at Apple, used it as both a marketing tool and motivator for employees. Lenovo is hoping to create its own reality distortion field around Kutcher and its products. It remains to be seen what long term impact that will have.


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