Deep Blue Rises Again

Desperate for a celebrity who doesn’t have SAG commitments? Look no further: IBM’s chessaholic, Deep Blue, now has official star power.

The fridge-sized chunk of artificial smarts, famous for walloping Russian chess master Garry Kasparov in 1997, was crunching numbers in Yorktown, N.Y., last week when it heard the news that it’s on a par, celebrity-wise, with the likes of LL Cool J, Carmen Electra and Carson Daly. This according to Marketing Evaluations/TvQ, whose “Q ratings” measure a combination of fame and likability.

The machine—a favorite of talk-show hosts, comic strips, even Fox’s Futurama in recent years—got a Q of 9, well below Mickey Mouse (44) and Elvis (33), but only a point behind Howard Stern and George Steinbrenner and two points above Larry King and Count Chocula.

“For a combination as obscure as chess and supercomputing to have that kind of celebrity—it shows people love technology,” says Chris Wall, creative director on IBM at Ogilvy & Mather.

IBM was “startled” by the news, says spokesman Jim Larkin, and will explore any marketing opportunities it brings. “It’s the first piece of hardware people want to put their arms around and have great thoughts about,” he says. Deep Blue itself made no audible comment. Matt groeningChris Saganichchuck gonzales