BlackBerry distances itself from 'traditional endorsements' with Alicia Keys hire

Alicia Keys: to act as global creative officer for BlackBerry
Alicia Keys: to act as global creative officer for BlackBerry

BlackBerry has claimed its recruitment of singer Alicia Keys, director Robert Rodriguez and author Neil Gaiman, will not form part of a "traditional product endorsements" strategy.

The mobile manufacturer has brought in the celebrities in order to push the launch of its make-or-break BlackBerry 10 operating system and new range of products that run on the much-delayed software.

BlackBerry surprised observers at its launch event on Wednesday 30 January when it announced that Alicia Keys would act as its global creative officer.

Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at BlackBerry, told Marketing: "We are not going to do traditional product endorsements. I would describe them as more brand programming.

"You won’t see the celebrities in the 'Keep Moving' campaign on TV. The 'Keep Moving' TV campaign is all about showing the product experience in the flow of your professional and personal life."

Boulben added that the BlackBerry 10 launch campaign will be the biggest marketing campaign in the brand’s history "by far", but would not reveal how much the company was spending on marketing.

He explained: "As BlackBerry's CMO, I can tell you I have sufficient resources to make an impactful campaign. We have a very strong cash position we have $2.9bn in cash and no debt."

All marketing activity will follow a 'Keep Moving' creative idea, with traditional media including TV and press activity supported by "creative projects" involving Keys, Rodriguez and Gaiman.

AMV BBDO created the global campaign out of its London office. 

Activity will include Keys creating a video in each city where she is performing her 'Set the World on Fire' tour, with each customised video based on ideas she receives from her fans.

The videos themselves and supporting "making-of" material will be hosted on social media sites including YouTube.

Boulben responded to press coverage about Keys being an iPhone user by claiming she is now a committed BlackBerry advocate.

He said: "She was in love with BlackBerry for a long time and then at the gym, she saw a sexy phone [iPhone] and she broke up with us. Then she was introduced to the new BlackBerry 10 and fell in love again.

"She’s been using it for a couple of days [and] is a huge fan and she is telling her friends in show business how excited she is about the product."

Boulben added that now was the perfect moment to rebrand the company from Research in Motion to BlackBerry, to reflect the company moving from a "house of brands to a branded house". 

He said: "It's a time of considerable change in the market, new management, new technology platform, new portfolio of devices, so now was the perfect time to have symbolic change to reflect the organisational change in the company."

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