RIM botches PR stunt announcing new marketing campaign
By Steve Lundin, Chief Hunter and Gatherer– BIGfrontier Communications Group
Remember when “Crackberry” meant something and Obama famously refused to surrender his precious chunky device when he became president? Well so does RIM, they’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get their mojo back since the iPhone came on the scene. And like an addict jonesing for a fix, they’ll do just about anything these days to get a taste of the old dragon.
Their desperation manifested itself a couple of weeks ago when they masterminded a flash mob outside an Apple store in Sydney, Australia. Their stunt, which bore the vintage flavor of Edelman’s faux-thentic Walmarting Across America fiasco, involved a group of would-be protesters who stood in front of an Apple store with signs that said “wake up.” “To what?” many bemused shoppers wondered, as the half-baked plan lacked a punch line. The entire episode was conveniently recorded by a blogger, Nate ‘Blunty’ Burr, who just “happened” to be there – at that exact time – to record the event and was even moved to comment on it.
Well, it wasn’t Starbucks that got the blame for this, but Samsung, as if they needed more attention for their own Android smartphones! Poor RIM wasn’t even on the short list of usual suspects, and had to smolder quietly in the corner before admitting, a few days ago, that they done the deed. When they came forward to claim their white bellied fish rot corpse of a marketing campaign, the community responded with a yawn, more surprised that RIM was even around anymore. On May 7th RIM let the other shoe drop: the PR stunt was designed to announce a new marketing campaign. This one is aimed at Apple and attempts to position RIM products as a better choice. Why? I guess because we’re awake – at least that’s the campaign’s logic. Apple must be quaking in their boots about now. RIM’s awake – and they’re gunnin fer ya!
The sad truth is that RIM has been so marginalized that it’s about as relevant in the smartphone arena as a 1972 pink princess rotary dial phone.
RIM – the company that can be truly credited with putting assessable email in our palms – lost touch with its magic a long time ago. That has translated into eroded public confidence in the brand’s DNA: the company reported global orders were down 80% in their fiscal fourth quarter. At their recent BlackBerry World conference RIM launched a new OS but no new hardware. They talked about jettisoning the beloved RIM keyboard in favor of a virtual one –you know, like Apple and Android have. They even had the Martinez Brothers on hand to instill the elusive cool factor into the event. But you can’t buy cool – it has to be in your soul to be recognized and appreciated. Flash mob stunts and “me too” virtual keyboards don’t cool make.
RIM Stock Chart
The Australian marketing nightmare was actually a physical representation of the brand’s woes. RIM’s fake mob stood outside of Apple’s mighty temple, and conducted a demonstration that was an impotent as it was confused. What kind of message does “wake up” send to the market? Were they trying to say that Apple had slipped us a global ruffie and it was time to “wake up” to the reality that we all really wanted Blackberry’s again? Is this any different than a cast-off from the first round of American Idol complaining that Beethoven, Charles Mingus and Bruce Springsteen are a bunch of talentless amateurs? RIM is trying to stop a freight train by putting an egg in its path.
RIM always had a great presence in the business community, and back when we all wore pleated pants it was the badge of a professional –like the Thinkpad. RIM may have lost its way when it tried to be all things to all people and didn’t recognize the special sauce that Apple was offering. Apple defined and cleaned up the market before RIM even realized it was there.
It’s probably too late for RIM to market its way back to relevance for the general public, even with the help of the Martinez Brothers and its big announcement. But there is a light at the end of the spectrum rainbow if they set their sights on something smaller. What kind of market exists for a durable, high performance, secure device with a proven, user friendly form factor? How about construction, the military and business professionals who don’t need app heaviness? If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s where RIM came from and what it was designed for.
If you think about RIM what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’d guess for 99% of the public it’s the QWERTY keyboard. No models – screen sizes – cameras – just that wonderful, thoughtful, form factored keyboard. It’s not apps, music, number of megapixels in its camera or any of the attributes that serve to define an iPhone. RIM’s not even in the ring for that contest, much less in the same country where the fight is being held. Sometimes if your roots are all you truly have, it’s time to pack your stuff and go home. Leave Disneyland to those with the imaginations and be satisfied with the Ohio Turnpike.
Published: May 7, 2012 By: