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BlackBerry CMO Marketing Strategy for BB10? BBM4ALL

By October 26, 2013BB10, BBM, Editorial, Outlook

Why was BlackBerry CMO Frank Boulben giving quotes to Reuters letting the media know that BBM was “Within Days” of launch back on October the 14th? While we know Andrew Bocking EVP for BBM is the main voice that has been updating the interwebs on BBM launch details-Frank is the Chief Marketing Officer.

Many went aghast when BlackBerry and Crew decided to air this Super Bowl Ad back in February.

But I think this very subtle, very clever advert flew over many peoples heads. Sorry Christina. Before we jump into how BlackBerry will utilize BBM as their BB10 advertising medium-directly into Android and iOS users hands, let’s dissect some of the messaging and subtlety to the ad itself. The concept may seem weak, ‘We’ve only got 30 seconds, it would be easier to show you everything the device can’t do’ and well shit, in this day and age no duh phone can do a lot. Oh And don’t call it cross platform, it’s multiplatform.

Boulbens message with the advert was a nonchalant reminder to the public. BlackBerry is HERE. (And in truth they have been here all along). In reality the ad was a statement more than marketing tool to sell devices. It was a statement, much like the open letter they delivered in 30 newspaper publications across 9 different countries (also on the 14th). While it wasn’t the rabble-rousing victory chant that many fans wanted it left subtle messages to anyone watching. The catchy tune a song called “Who Knows” by Marion Black. To no surprise there is a fruit called a ‘MarionBerry’ it’s a kind of USDA developed blackberry cultivated earnestly in Marion County, Oregon. This part of the soul-song can be heard across the entirety of the ad and are also the opening lines:

Who knows what tomorrow will bring
Maybe sunshine, and maybe rain
But as for me I’ll wait and see
And maybe it’ll bring my love to me

Call me a romantic, or a fool, but the marketing cues while subversive can be admired. BlackBerry stands up for itself not by lashing out or being petty. It defies the negative connotation, building for a tomorrow that will have them, if only they could predict the forecast of their future. And perhaps I can agree, the SuperBowl may not have been the best place for the concept, but what it stands for, and the message it carriers is a widening truth as we begin to see the scope of their BBM launch, less than a week in now. As we move to discuss BBM, I’ll take word from Corey Herscu @CellGuru spotted on his BBM Channel in fact.

“Regardless of the hate going on online, BlackBerry – with their BBM app – have proved that they can still deliver quality products”

In truth the BlackBerry fans already know this. But to the world BBM will represent the face of BlackBerry in the hands of tens of millions of users across platforms. The experience will drive a new definition for what a BlackBerry is in the consumer mindset, and if you ask me, giving people an experience is so much more valuable than blowing 500$ million dollars just to saturate the market with painful curiosity $MSFT. BlackBerry in not working persay, on new growth, as much as it is at retention and win-back. Redefining the brand and delivering steady innovations-uniting a powerful social platform that couples IM, HD Voice & Video, Screen Sharing, Money Transfers and a new micro-blogging tenant BBM Channels, all with best in class security- it will absolutely drive dynamic growth for $BBRY or whatever the ticker is next month or the month after. BBM is merely training future BB10 owners the ins, and will hopefully show them the way out. Give them a taste of our platforms power.

In May at BlackBerry Live we saw the first ever Car > Smartphone video call (outside of a carPC). This call was done from BlackBerry 10 smartphone running a version of BBM Video out to a Bentley Continental GT running BlackBerrys core kernel QNX beneath a gorgeous 17″ curved glass center stack/display, through in mounted cameras which connected over LTE. In the nearer than you think  future, as BlackBerry pushes their platform into automotive, BBM will become the ‘Skype’ of the vehicle-driving seamless mobile communication. QNX will power integration and OS mirroring so that whatever your smartphone, your car will be smart enough to understand how to adapt the components for safe use in the vehicle HMI. Integration of BlackBerry’s social BBM platform is one of those key components. This allows BlackBerry to dominate a whole new experience in a nascent industry. From 2015-2020 vehicle infotainment  as an industry will grow to tens of billions- and BlackBerry has a leg and two arms in the door. And if iPhone and Android users wanted to make a Video call into the car, well guess what app they would need.

The nostalgia in the air as BBM comes to life overshadows the fresh work BlackBerry has put into overhauling its BBM platform the last 2+ years. It will scale and scale fast to compete, Boulben can utilize the virility of a free download to advertise to you in a new way. By changing what you think you know. Google did this exceeding well with their Maps on iOS and have made it a must-have through careful seeding and consistent excellence, a goal BBM will need to keep front of face. BBM is a trojan horse for BlackBerry into potentially hundreds of millions of hands. In so many ways we’ll look back at this launch and never have seen it coming, but the marketing team at BlackBerry has much bigger goals on their horizon and to count this company down AND out is unfair. You’re playing right back into their hands, they’re going to get a power player involved or privatize but the BlackBerry you’ve known is gone but not the one you loved. As for me I’ll wait and see, if BlackBerry can bring all those loving users back home to the B. Who knows what tomorrow may bring.


James Nieves

Author James Nieves

Manning the helm here @BBRYFLOW. Feel free to shoot me an email.

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  • Fernando Commodari

    Very on point article! Nice job!

  • Pjews

    Blackberry as a product has beentops most of the time. All they need now is to get a CEO like JS to run the company and the brain of ML to develop the ideas.

  • Vijit Coomara

    I definitely agree with you on the super bowl ad. I was miffed by the negativity. I am glad you brought up the song because I thought it was brilliant. But to me one 30 ad was not enough. The AD or other ones of a similar vein needed to be aired on a regular basis. The song would have caught on and combined with the teaser ad it could have induced curiosity. I did not like the keep moving ads and the narratives by the stars like Alicia keys. In summary I liked his approach. There just was simply not enough of it during that crucial period of the bb10 launch.