NEW YORK – Dude, you're getting downsized!
Steven, the unflappable surfer-dude Dell pitchman played by actor Ben Curtis, is appearing in only one of three new ads featuring Dell interns brainstorming new products.
Dell says it wants to give the $200 million "Steven" ad campaign a break and try something new -- but that Steven could return on a full-time basis.
"We are not walking away from Steven," said a spokeswoman for DDB Chicago, which produces the TV ads for Dell.
A spokesman for Dell said the ad change was just a way to "look for alternatives" to get the company's message across.
"But to equate that with the demise of the Steven [ad] series would not be accurate," he said. "I think there's a good chance Steven will continue to be the face associated with Dell's consumer business."
Since being introduced in 2000, the Steven campaign has helped Dell reap billions in profits and leap-frog from fifth place to second place in PC manufacturers (behind only Hewlett-Packard).
Steven became famous for his sly demeanor, goofy grin and his standard sign-off: "Dude, you're getting a Dell!"
Viewers quickly embraced the loopy character -- "He reminds me of my grandson," one caller told Dell -- and Steven's popularity skyrocketed.
A pitchman like Curtis, used in huge ad campaigns, can earn a "high six-figure salary," according to advertising sources.
Curtis, 21, was a struggling actor at NYU when he auditioned for the role. He was called back three times before finally snagging the role.
"I don't know if I really consider myself famous, but everyone knows who I am -- so it's pretty cool," Curtis said in April.