Blame Michael Phelps fever for our oversight, but we seem to have missed a milestone in Silicon Alley’s rise to celebrity status. This past weekend, “Breaking Bad” viewers were treated to the visage of Dennis Crowley, staring back at them from a Best Buy commercial. Best Buy released two different thirty second spots starring the Foursquare cofounder, one of which is also running during the Olympics.
Mr. Crowley, the de facto poster boy for New York’s tech scene, doesn’t shy away from the limelight. There was last year’s print ad for Gap (alongside the defoundered Naveen Selvadurai), as well as his upcoming debut in Vanity Fair. “Have a SAG card yet?,” Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer quipped on Twitter.
All the signifiers of a proper techie are on display, including Mr. Crowley’s glow-in-the-dark, lime green Nooka watch, for those who prefer to read time in a 12 dot display, as well as a Nike+ FuelBand, for all your self-quantifying needs.
The commercials, first reported by AllThingsD, are part of Best Buy’s “College Innovator” campaign. In one, Mr. Crowley talks about how innovation in smartphones enabled services like Foursquare. In the other, he plugs Best Buy’s contest awarding four students a cut of its $100,000 fund to support “the next big technology-based innovation.”
Foursquare’s Erin Gleason told AllThingsD that the spot was partly to “introduce the all-new foursquare to a large audience,” but there’s also a philanthropic component. Mr. Crowley is donating his (undisclosed) fee to CampInteractive, a non-profit that provides technology education to underprivileged students. Mr. Crowley, Ms. Gleason, and other Foursquare employees are all involved with the initiative.
As for Best Buy’s interest in a CEO whose three-year old startup just launched its first revenue product last week, perhaps it’s best to employ Mr. Crowley’s advice from the commercial, “Avoid the haters.”