The face of BlackBerry has pretty much been that of Thorsten Heins since he took the reins as CEO back in January of last year. That isn’t so bad, except that BlackBerry is trying to be hip and cool again, and Heins kind of looks like an accountant. Well, Heins is having none of that and earlier today, he took to the stage at the BlackBerry 10 launch with Grammy Award-winning music goddess Alicia Keys to announce her as BlackBerry’s new global creative director. It was a position that BlackBerry created specifically for her to “inspire the future” of the company.
Keys says she had previously been a BlackBerry power user, but had abandoned the QWERTY platform once she started noticing sexier phones at the gym. For a time, she had two phones, but now she uses BlackBerry exclusively. Sounds like a celebrity endorsement to me.
That’s because it probably is. As BlackBerry’s global creative director, I highly doubt that Keys will have any direct input into the design of any new phones aside from the occasional “Yeah, that looks cool”. It isn’t anything new for brands to tap into celebrities for endorsement, and if you think creating a position for a celebrity in the company is something new, Intel did the same thing with Will.I.Am when they announced him as its director of creative innovation. Alicia Keys will likely show up to various events and shows to talk up the BlackBerry brand, not to mention appear in all of their ads.
The company formerly known as RiM has a long road ahead to claiming back the huge chunk of market share that it lost to the likes of iOS and Android. While a celebrity endorsement by Alicia Keys is nice, it’s the phones and the BlackBerry ecosystem that will matter in the long run. So far, BlackBerry has done everything within their power to generate buzz and for the most part, they’ve done a lot of things right. I’m actually quite excited at BlackBerry 10 and the two new smartphones that will run them, but it’s still going to be an uphill battle for the Canadian phone company.
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