From concept to execution, BlackBerry's comeback ad fell flat.
When the company formerly known as RIM announced that it was doing a major Super Bowl ad, the idea seemed to be that this was an opportunity to show off BlackBerry 10 and its new Z10 handset. Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben told Mashable that "the objective with the Super Bowl commercial is to let people know that the BlackBerry is back."
Instead, the lackluster ad was a wasted opportunity for the new brand and the new product.
If you haven't seen the ad, check it out:
A company struggling for market share and relevance spends $4 million for air time alone and that is the result? Seriously, in what universe does that ad tell America that "BlackBerry is back"?
Wrong ConceptThe concept behind the ad was that the BlackBerry Z10 is so powerful, it's impossible to show all the new features in just 30 seconds, so people might as well see all kinds of ridiculous things the phone can't do.
Here's the problem: BlackBerry's current reputation in the United States is that it's a phone that can't do anything. It's the phone that has no apps, that requires a reboot to install app updates, and that is slow to access the web.
Rather than showcase the many new apps now available for BlackBerry 10, the ability to separate work and personal profiles or the slick new time warp camera function, BlackBerry thought it would be better to show a guy reading his phone and turning a truck into lots of rubber ducky toys.
I thought the BlackBerry Storm ad campaign back in 2008 missed the mark. But after last night's Super Bowl ad, I kind of wish we could see stuff like this again:
A Question of TimingAside from a poor concept, I'm also confused by the timing of this Super Bowl spot. When BlackBerry announced it was participating in the Super Bowl, it made sense — after all, the Big Game took place just a few days after the BlackBerry 10 launch.
The problem is, BlackBerry 10 won't be coming to the United States until March — and probably late March at that. Is it really worth spending $4 million on an ad that confuses users when your phone won't be out for two months?
BlackBerry seems to be under the impression that it is not a troubled brand. While the brand's resilience is impressive — especially considering the damage done to it over the last four years — make no mistake, this is a company on the ropes. BlackBerry 10 is its last shot at making a big comeback.
What BlackBerry Should DoThere is a lot to like about BlackBerry 10. I've been using the Z10 for the last few days and am impressed — and a bit relieved — to see BlackBerry finally deliver a modern smartphone and smartphone OS.
Rather than pretending the negative connotation surrounding the brand and platform doesn't exist, BlackBerry should address it head on. Maybe say something like, "you think you can't do X with BlackBerry? Think again."
Or maybe BlackBerry should take advantage of its new global creative director, Alicia Keys. Keys made an appearance at the Super Bowl, singing the national anthem, but it's hard to turn that into a marketing opportunity. An ad simply showing her using a Z10 might have done the trick.
If BlackBerry is going to spend the money on celebrity endorsements, it should actually feature celebrities in its advertising.
Lost OpportunityUltimately, this was yet another lost opportunity for BlackBerry to reinvent itself and reassert itself as a new company.
Over the last year, the company has made lots of movements to prove that it is now different. It has a new CEO, a new CMO, a new operating system. It even has a new company name.
That's why it's so frustrating to see reminders of the past — such as a holster case for the Z10 — and advertising that is out of touch with market realties.
If BlackBerry really is going to come back, let's hope its next round of commercials go in a decidedly different direction.
Image courtesy of BlackBerry
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