HP looks to celebrity board member for publicity boost

Hewlett-Packard is hoping celebrities can give it the cachet it lacks after many years of layoffs and scandals...

Following on the heels of Intel's appointment of Will.i.am from the pop group Black Eyed Peas as its Director of Creative Innovation, Hewlett-Packard [HPQ] is looking for a similar boost in publicity from a leading celebrity, say sources close to the company.

HP is expected to announce that Charlie Sheen, the actor, will join HP's board. The announcement could come as early as Monday.

HP is struggling to reorganize following turmoil in its senior leadership. Mark Hurd, the former CEO, was pushed out because of allegations of a sex scandal and questions about his personal judgement.

HP now has a new CEO and has been expanding its board of directors to include a more diverse set of advisors. But some have criticized HP's appointments.

Therese Poletti, a columnist at MarketWatch, wrote that HP's board had become "a motley crew."

Wall Street analysts also questioned HP's judgement.

“I agree with the direction, that the board needs to be refreshed, but I am not sure I agree with the choices that were made,” said Trip Chowdhry, a Global Equities Research analyst.

A source close to HP said that Charlie Sheen's recent meteoric rise in social media popularity caught the attention of HP's new CEO Léo Apotheker.

"Charlie Sheen went from zero Twitter followers to more than 3.3 million virtually overnight. That beats Ashton Kutcher hands down," said the HP source. "Plus, he is less crazy than you think, he's a very savvy entertainer and he knows how to build and keep an audience."

HP believes Charlie Sheen will give the company a much needed boost after many years of layoffs and scandals. He is expected to advise HP on its media strategies.

There is a growing trend among Silicon Valley companies to harness celebrities to help boost their image. Intel says it is pleased with its appointment of Will.i.am.

From Intel's blog:

As an extension of his insatiable fascination with technology, which plays a significant role in his professional and personal lives, will.i.am will engage in a multi-year, hands-on creative and technology collaboration with Intel Corporation. He already sports an Intel ID badge...

His duties include composing a new Intel jingle.

Editor's April 1 Note: As our lawyers would no doubt remind us to remind our readers, Tom is only kidding.