When 'Star Trek' stars play product pitchman

Think it's just Shatner out there in ad space, plumping for Priceline? Actually, there's a long commercial track record for "Star Trek" stars, from Nimoy to Quinto.

William Shatner and the Commodore VIC-20
Yes, there was a time when Shatner was still young, and computers were still a novelty. YouTube/Screenshot by CNET

If Starfleet Academy has a Marketing 101 class, these commercials must surely be on the syllabus.

Twice in recent days, Earth's ad agencies have dispatched officers of the "Star Trek" franchise on missions not to seek out new worlds, but to sell new products.

First came a video clip from PC maker Acer using clips from the imminent "Star Trek Into Darkness," docking soon in a movie theater near you, to pump up the excitement for its new flagship Aspire R7 .

Then Audi flew into view with a two-minute Spock vs. Spock spiel for its S7 sedan.

Which got us to wondering: Just how often have the best and brightest from "Star Trek" done duty as product pitchmen?

Yes, yes, obviously there's William Shatner's long-running gig for Priceline.

But we've been poking around, and have turned up some historical gems and oddities that you just won't want to miss. Remember the phone company MCI and its Friends and Family plan? Remember when our only "communicator" was a landline phone?

There's lots more out there in the commercial space of yesteryear, from Aleve to Oldsmobile.

And long before Priceline came along, Shatner was shilling for the Commodore VIC-20, "the wonder computer of the 1980s."

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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