Ashton Kutcher Continues To Play Steve Jobs

Ashton Kutcher has signed a deal with Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) (HKG:0992) to be both celebrity spokesperson and a product engineer, reports Jon Swartz for USA Today. “It’s somewhat of a dual role,” said Kutcher.

Ashton Kutcher Continues To Play Steve Jobs

Ashton Kutcher frames deal as calculated risk

Ashton Kutcher tried to frame the deal as a ‘calculated risk’ for both parties, but at least for Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) (HKG:0992) it’s a sponsorship deal with upside. Kutcher has made some solid tech investments in the past including Spotify and Foursquare Capital Corp (NYSE:FSQR), and he’s in touch with popular culture in a way that actual product engineers probably aren’t, so it’s certainly possible that he could spot a problem or recommend a feature that impacts the final product. And if not, Lenovo still gets Kutcher touting their products.

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For Ashton Kutcher, it’s basically the same deal in reverse. He’ll get paid either way (and unlike actual product engineers, he probably won’t get fired if his ideas are terrible), and if he does make  a significant contribution it will add to the image that he is trying to build of himself as an artist/innovator inspired by Steve Jobs, who Ashton Kutcher played in the biopic.

David Roman on deal with Ashton Kutcher

“This partnership goes beyond traditional bounds by deeply integrating him into our organization as a product engineer,” said Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) (HKG:0992) chief marketing officer David Roman. “Ashton will help us break new ground by challenging assumptions, bringing new perspective and contributing his technical expertise to Yoga Tablet and other devices.”

It’s worth noticing that Roman is the head of marketing and not, say, operations. The image of Ashton Kutcher dropping in on a group of Lenovo engineers in between other projects and sharing his ideas is entertaining, but it’s not what most people would describe as deeply integrated. We can expect his name to be firmly established with something coming out of Lenovo in the next few years, whatever his contribution.

Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) (HKG:0992) also announced its newest tablet today, called Yoga because it has a kickstand that lets it stand up to watch movies or tilt to read and type more comfortably. This follows Lenovo’s Yoga laptop released last year that could also be folded and used in more ways than a traditional laptop. The tablet comes in an 8-inch and 10-inch version, and both will come in at under $300.