Dell’s Holiday Push Serves Up Celebs

NEW YORK Chuck Liddell is talking to you.

The martial arts fighter and all-around tough guy just finished, in his words, “pounding the snot out of this bag” on the ground in front of him. Bare-chested and ready to fight, he addresses you from the corner of a nameless gym. The only other person visible is a young man with two broken arms and a nervous look on his face. Liddell says that someone wants you to contribute to the purchase of a new Dell Inspiron laptop.

And while you could buy them “stupid crap” like socks, CDs or pants for the holidays, Liddell points out that wouldn’t make the gift recipient very happy. And if they aren’t happy, Liddell isn’t happy. “I found you once, and I can find you again,” he warns, before cheerfully wishing viewers happy holidays.

Liddell is one of the stars of an integrated holiday campaign for Dell from independent Mother, New York, that uses celebrities, such as Burt Reynolds, Vivica Fox and Brooke Burke to convince people to chip in and buy their friends a computer.

“It’s built on insight that during the holidays what you wish for and what you get may be two different things,” said Paul Malmstrom, cd, Mother.

Set to launch on Friday, the campaign is comprised of six roughly 90-second Internet spots, one TV commercial, interactive ads and experiential marketing.

On yoursishere.com, visitors will be able to pick one of the six celebrities, each of whom represents an archetype. Fox, for example, is introduced as the “Sassy Sell.” In her video, she dresses down viewers for the poor gift choices they are about to make that are not Dell computers. Reynolds, the only celebrity seen in the TV spot, is the “Star Sell.” He delivers a typically self-mocking performance as he identifies himself as a “super-famous celebrity.”

“It puts the user in the shoes of the marketers. You know who your audience is and what they’re going to respond to,” said Jay Pinkert, a representative at Dell Consumer Group, based in Round Rock, Texas.

Andrew Deitchman, a strategist at Mother, added, “Everyone knows during the holiday season you’ll be sold to, but in this case you get to pick how you want to be sold to.”

On Dec. 6-9, Dell will take over the Good Morning America studio in New York’s Times Square with a pop-up store that it claims will be a real-world version of yoursishere.com. Some of the celebrities will be on hand to mix and mingle.

While the store is open, the JumboTron display in Times Square will display portions of the yoursishere Web site.

While the Web site launches on Friday, the 30-second TV spot, in which Reynolds directs people to the online venue, bows next week. There is no print component, though the site will be mentioned in Dell holiday circulars.

“We’re moving away from a transactional, old Dell approach, to something engaging and viral that can be shared,” said Pinkert.