The Priv has been at the centre of a lot of discussions revolving around security, privacy, pricing, what it means for BlackBerry as well as what it means for the mobile segment in general. And while all those discussions are valid and have some great points on either side I’m more interested in another discussion that is simultaneously occurring, one that could define BlackBerry going forward. With a wink, a mysterious device in my hand, and a sexy pose as I look into the camera, I’m talking about marketing.
I, along with a number of others have been fairly harsh on BlackBerry recently when it comes to how it’s marketing the Priv. From the first images on the BlackBerry website to the recent YouTube videos it quickly starts to feel like a hodgepodge of marketing attempts and tactics are being used. I recently lost my cool when an image was posted on BlackBerry’s Instagram account with a woman, dressed in casual clothing, laughing and covering her face with the Priv, all set in a black and white filter. I say I lost my cool because I just couldn’t believe the lack of a coherent message or identity that the numerous ads revolving around the Priv fail to achieve. People were defending the ads saying they were creative but I didn’t feel they were. And while I don’t want to revisit that aspect (creativity) I will say that creativity is as much about the canvas upon which a thought and/or emotion is conveyed as it is the context in which it is delivered.
I thought “here we go another me-too device…one that people won’t even think is a me-too device because they’ll just think it’s BB10.”
While the device doesn’t seem to be garnering any specific identity like Passport’s Work Wide, or the Z10/Q10’s Keep Moving it’s hard to argue with the fact that at least there is some marketing being put out onto the web so that people are aware about the device. Anyone who has been following BlackBerry since the launch of BB10 can attest to the heartbreaking realization that nobody outside of our tiny little community knew about the devices. At first it was the droves of people who assumed BB10 was the same as BBOS, then came all the people who assumed BB10 had no apps (they didn’t realize we could install Android apps from Amazon and Google Play). You can understand my skepticism when I first heard about BlackBerry releasing an Android device. I thought “here we go another me-too device…one that people won’t even think is a me-too device because they’ll just think it’s BB10.”. I was wrong.
The device seems to have garnered a bunch of positive attention. People aren’t confusing it for a BB10 device (well other than a few of us BB10 hopefuls!). I’d almost even say people on all stretches of the mobile spectrum are excited about it. If you had asked me a few months ago whether I thought the device had a chance I would have said “not likely”.
That sentiment revolved around a realistic look at past efforts. BlackBerry’s foray into the app-crazy mobile space has been largely defined in the media by two things: a lack of apps and a lack of marketing. And while I certainly have my own thoughts on the quantity vs quality approach that I think we’re seeing, I certainly can’t complain about the effort they are putting in. It’s a refreshing sight to see actual non-BlackBerry fans talking about the Priv, talking about it with a reasonable sense of what the device is.
It’s something that as a BlackBerry fan have been wanting and asking for…I didn’t quite imagine it like this but I’m OK with that. It’s a sign of things to come. Who knows we may even see TV ads or other types of viral marketing that we’ve seen competitors do over the years (but please let’s not revisit the SuperBowl). Hopefully we can put past efforts behind us and see this device through a successful launch one Priv at a time.