HP’s new (Russell) Brand: The TouchPad gets skeevy.
FORTUNE — Hewlett-Packard HPQ apparently believes that putting Russell Brand’s name and the word “touch” in close proximity won’t make too many potential buyers of its TouchPad tablet wince or grimace.
In a set of short commercial spots for the TouchPad, Russell alludes several times to the skeevy image that has helped make him a star. “The only barrier is the barrier of my conscience,” he says in one. “And let me tell you, that’s no barrier at all.” The tablet’s “Full Web” feature “is the Internet full frontal” and the TouchPad is “like ancient Rome all smashed down into cyberspace.”
Using the Brand brand so ostentatiously seems strange way to promote a product that’s supposedly aimed largely at enterprise customers. If HP is trying to go for “hip” here, perhaps as a way to cut into the market share of Apple’s AAPL iPad, it seems a somewhat pathetic attempt. In one spot, Brand notes that TouchPad supports Flash, a reference that could be seen at a slap at the iPad, which doesn’t support it.
Nevertheless, Ray Kerris, HP’s vice president of worldwide developer relations, told the Loop that HP is not going after Apple. “It would be ignorant for us to say that we are going to take [the market] away from Apple,” he said.
It’s an “ignorant” notion that a maker of tablet computers would take on the company that leads the market for tablet computers. Maybe so, to a company that would use Russell Brand to appeal to IT managers.