OLPC’s Creepy and Inappropriate John Lennon Ad

By  |  Monday, December 29, 2008 at 12:33 pm

xolennon1The One Laptop Per Child Foundation has a new spokesman for its XO “$100 laptop.” He’s admired the world ’round, and isn’t someone you associate with product endorsements–in part because he’s been dead for close to three decades. He’s John Lennon, and he promotes the XO through a voice over done by a (not very impressive) impersonator and old footage synched with the new dialog through (not very impressive) digital trickery.

As everyone who’s writing about this is pointing out, deceased celebs (such as Fred Astaire) have been doing ads for a long time, and Apple’s “Think Different” campaign commandeered not only John Lennon’s image (along with Yoko Ono, who presumably granted permission) but that of the Mahatma himself. And there’s nothing sacrosanct about the Beatles in an age in which their music is featured in diaper ads.

But the Lennon-XO ad is unusual in putting words into the late endorser’s mouth–words that don’t make much sense, since “Lennon” seems to say that the purpose of his music was to give children access to “a universe of knowledge.” The obvious, crude fakery of the ad lends a cheesy air to the proceedings, too. The more you like John Lennon, the less you may like it.

Look, OLPC is an exceptionally noble nonprofit undertaking (I’ve paid for laptop donations in 2007 and 2008 and plan to do so again) and it’s entirely possible that Lennon would have been an enthusiastic supporter if he were still with us. If Yoko Ono thinks he’d have appeared in spots for it, I believe her. But that kind of doesn’t matter, since the ad that OLPC made is creepy, not inspiring. (One in which Ono said Lennon would have loved OLPC would have been entirely different. Geez, Ringo extolling the virtues of XO would be a vast improvement.)

The ad gives me the willies, so I would almost rather not embed on this site…but here you go:

And what the heck, let’s do a T-Poll on it:


Read more: , ,

1 Comments For This Post

  1. CraigM Says:

    I guess I don’t find this so appalling, but it’s poorly done. Having John’s lips move does add an air of obvious fakery that turns me off, and the impersonation is awful (and even sounds American).

    I agree that using a Yoko voiceover would be better … in fact, Yoko’s voice, plus a *still* picture of John at the end, would have made for a very powerful ad.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Happy 2009! Help welcome blog newbies… | One Laptop per Child Says:

    […] Technologizer (Poll) […]

  2. OLPC Slashes Staff, Refocuses Mission | Technologizer Says:

    […] personnel have reduced compensation. With luck the person that produced the foundation’s creepy John Lennon ad wasn’t spared the pink […]

  3. The Fight Against Destructive Spin » Blog Archive » John Lennon … endorsing from above Says:

    […] The creepy thing is not that they used old images, not that they used old sound bites, but that they had an impersonator do voice over “putting words into the late endorser’s mouth,” according to Technologizer. […]