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December 29, 2008

John Lennon virtually resurrected for TV ad

The morbid practice of re-animating celebrities for commercials has claimed another postmortem victim -- John Lennon.

The deceased singer-songwriter is urging viewers to support charitable organization One Laptop per Child. Thanks to digital technology, Lennon, who was shot and killed 28 years ago, riffs anew on his song "Imagine."

"Imagine every child, no matter where in the world they were, could access a universe of knowledge," Lennon "says" in the ad (below). "They would have a chance to learn, to dream, to achieve anything they want. I tried to do it through my music, but now you can do it in a very different way. You can give a child a laptop and more than imagine, you can change the world."

The commercial was launched on Thursday and will be shown on donated broadcast and cable time, according to Reuters. Lennon's widow Yoko Ono has approved the ad.

One Laptop Per Child donates solar-powered laptops to children in developing nations and has previously tapped living celebs such as NFL athlete Tom Brady and "Heroes" actor Masi Oka.

The practice of putting dead celebrities in ads has long drawn derision from critics (it was once dubbed "advertising necrophilia") and attention-getting headlines for the products. Previous dead-celeb revivals include Fred Astaire dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum, John Wayne peddling Coors beer and Elvis Presley pushed Pizza Hut.

The resurrected Lennon is particularly unsettling for the deliberate use of past tense -- "I tried to do it through my music" -- suggesting the singer-songwriter is speaking from beyond the grave, his music career long behind him (and also, he seems rather doubtful about whether his music had any global impact).

"The Simpsons" did a "Treehouse of Horror"-episode spoof devoted to the practice earlier this eason season. A detailed look at the legal history of the issue here


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