Fox to be Gateway spokesman

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Gateway breaks the latest phase of its "People Rule" ad campaign Jan. 19 with actor Michael J. Fox, the computer company's new celebrity spokesman. The campaign constitutes more than one-third of Gateway's annualized ad budget and is the company's most significant marketing push this year, a spokesman said. According to Competitive Media Reporting, Gateway spent $175 million in measured media from January through September of 2000.

The San Diego, Calif.-based Gateway uses the celebrated actor in network TV spots as the voice of empathy for consumers trying to make sense of bewildering technology issues such as when and how to upgrade their PCs and how to choose the right PC. The actor will show how consumers can get more from their tech purchases. He'll also flag various attributes of the Gateway brand - personal service at Gateway stores, in-home installation services and tech education classes. The spots break on NBC's "Law and Order," ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," and other networks' primetime shows. Print in consumer, tech enthusiast and PC magazines is expected in 60 days.

The first spot features the actor promoting a $999 computer. Another breaking this weekend shows him trying to figure out how to move his old data files to a new PC and highlights Gateway's in-home file transfer data migration service .

"Michael J. Fox faces a lot of the same tech challenges that people face everyday. " He's meant to be someone consumers can empathize with who's baffled by new products, technologies, offers and all the noise in the marketplace," said Stuart Redsun, VP-advertising for Gateway's consumer division. "We wanted to bring some meaning to 'People Rule,'" Mr. Redsun said.

The actor lends his face infrequently to ad tie-ins. The last time he appeared in advertising was for Pepsi-Cola during his 'Back to the Future' days.

Created by McCann-Erickson, New York, three spots were shot on January 12, and several more are planned. The spots are directed by Ted Demme. Gateway spokesman Brad Williams declined to specify the terms of the deal, but indicated it was "long-term."

The cow-spotted tech company also will serve as the official technology partner for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, providing PCs and other equipment to people with Parkinson's, handling data management and consulting with the Foundation for online programs. The former star of ABC-TV's hit "Spin City" disclosed last year that he suffers from Parkinson's disease.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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