Tech's 5 Weirdest Celebrity Endorsements

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Intel ( INTC) took celebrity tech endorsements to another level last week with the appointment of Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am as the firm's new "director of creative innovation," highlighting the chip giant's desire to challenge Apple's ( AAPL) legion of cool.

As the dominant force in the semiconductor market, Intel's chips are widely deployed on PCs and laptops, but the tech giant has yet to make its presence felt in the booming mobile device space. Step up will.i.am, who sported an Intel ID badge at a recent company conference in California.

Like other manufacturers, tech companies are keen to get their products out in front of as many eyeballs as possible, and Intel/will.i.am is just the latest in long list of strange celebrity/Silicon Valley combos. Remember Jerry Seinfeld's ad with Microsoft's ( MSFT) Bill Gates? What about Mr. T's efforts at selling storage for HDS or John Cleese using his unique brand of British humor to sell Compaq gear long before it was swallowed up by Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ)?

Even Apple's iPad has had its brushes with fame, as Silicon Valley seeks out ever more unusual ways to hawk its products. Read on for more details of tech's strangest celebrity endorsements:

Intel & will.i.am

The multi-platinum artist and producer, responsible for such classics as Boom Boom Pow, has teamed up with Intel to boost the chip maker's consumer story.

Intel says that it will collaborate with the Black Eyed Peas star on devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, and that will.i.am will provide new music for the tech bellwether.

"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 amplify my own creativity," said will.i.am, in a statement released last week. "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."

Specific details of the relationship have not been released, but Intel has described the deal as the marrying of two worlds -- entertainment and technology. "It's imperative that Intel and our innovations are kept in front of the global youth culture," said Deborah Conrad, Intel's chief marketing officer.

Microsoft and Jerry Seinfeld

Funnyman Jerry Seinfeld joined forces with erstwhile Microsoft chief Bill Gates in 2008 for a series of TV ads as the software giant touted its Vista OS and attempted to combat Apple's Mac vs. PC ads.

The first ad, which aired in September 2008, showed Seinfeld helping Gates shop in a discount shoe store. "Are they ever going to come out with something that will make our computers moist and chewy like cakes so that we can eat them while we're working?," asks the comedian, at one point.

Reportedly paid around $10 million for his efforts, Seinfeld also starred in an ad where he and Gates attempt to reconnect with real people by sharing a house with a normal family.

Apple and Modern Family

Apple's product placement team was busy prior to the iPad's launch last year, putting the device into some high-profile hands.

Just a few days before the tablet's eagerly-anticipated debut, the iPad featured prominently in an episode of ABC's award-winning comedy Modern Family. The deliberately tacky episode, entitled "Game Changer," described a bungled quest to buy one of the first iPads and gave viewers some quick and adoring glimpses of the device towards the end of the show.

The show focused more on the brouhaha surrounding the iPad launch than the actual device itself, as if Apple was poking fun at the whole iPad hype-cycle. "Next week -- that's the worst thing you can say to an early adopter!" spat character Phil Dunphy, played by Ty Burrell (pictured above). The same actor was shown lovingly caressing an iPad at the end of the show.

Apple, which has sold more than 8 million iPads, also gave consumers an early peek of the device at the 2010 Grammy Awards, where it was briefly brandished by the comedian Stephen Colbert. The consumer tech giant also ran its first iPad TV ad during last year's Oscars.

Mr. T and Hitachi Data Systems

The former A-Team star was an unlikely technology pitchman in 2007, extolling the virtues of HDS's storage technology in his own inimitable style.

"I'm the T in I.T" declares Mr.T in a viral video, which has been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube. "V is for virtualization, sucker! I pity the fool who doesn't use Hitachi Data Systems virtualization!"

The wisecracking TV hardman also hawks Hitachi's mid-range products in another video, declaring "they so compact, they weigh less than the chains around my neck!"

HDS told the Direct Marketing News Web site that the ad campaign boosted its sales, and also brought the data storage specialist to a broader audience.

John Cleese and Compaq

Long before Compaq became part of the HP empire, the computer maker used Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese to sell its wares in the nascent PC market. The British actor fronted a campaign for Compaq in the eighties, famously declaring in one TV ad that "if I were you, I wouldn't watch this commercial."

In another of the somewhat absurdist ads, Cleese compares Compaq's Portable 2 to a dead fish in an attempt to highlight Compaq's compatibility with IBM's ( IBM) software. "If you're looking for a powerful portable computer that doesn't smell, I suggest you buy the Compaq Portable 2," he adds.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com

More from Technology

Experts Break Down GDPR Risks for Investors

Experts Break Down GDPR Risks for Investors

4 Billionaires Trying to Make Space Travel a Reality

4 Billionaires Trying to Make Space Travel a Reality

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Deflects Tough Questions From European Parliament

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Deflects Tough Questions From European Parliament

These 5 Autonomous Driving Stocks Are Flashing Buy Signals

These 5 Autonomous Driving Stocks Are Flashing Buy Signals

10 Seconds To Genius: Facebook

10 Seconds To Genius: Facebook