You Don’t Know Blackberry’s Name
Following in the footsteps of a string of major companies appointing celebrities as “brand ambassadors”, Blackberry (the company formerly known as RIM) yesterday appointed Alicia Keys as their Global Creative Director. Sure, it’s a bit of a copycat tactic (Pepsi with Beyonce, Intel with Will.I.Am etc.) and sure, Alicia still uses an iPhone – but you can’t deny that it has attracted some welcome media attention to the new BB10 platform launch.
But the biggest question for me is: why didn’t they choose Jeremy Piven instead?
For those of you who have managed to miss the phenomenon that is Entourage (shame on you), let me explain. For eight seasons of the hit TV show, Jeremy Piven played the character of Ari Gold, the Hollywood super agent who took on a life of his own and coined such pop culture phrases as “Let’s hug it out, b*tch” (see the many fan sites for more nuggets of Ari Gold wisdom).
One of Ari’s defining characteristics is of course his love for Blackberries – at any given moment, Ari can be seen with a Blackberry in each hand and another “Batphone” in an ankle holster. In one famous episode he even hid a Blackberry in a restaurant bathroom for secret access, Michael Corleone style. Even as other characters appeared with the latest iPhone models over the years, Ari stayed loyal to his beloved Blackberries. In a world of fast paced technological change, Ari was a beacon of BB solidarity, sneering at what he deemed lesser devices. Make no mistake, the way Ari talks about his “’Berries” made it clear that he equates these devices to his manhood, and anyone who doesn’t have ‘Berries made them inferior in his eyes.
The sheer number of fan forums and websites dedicated to Ari Gold’s Blackberry obsession shows that this point is not lost on the audience – a quick Google for “Ari Gold Blackberry” is evidence enough that Blackberry and Entourage fans alike have already latched onto this organically. Add to this the hype that will no doubt build with yesterday’s announcement of an Entourage movie being green lit, and you have to imagine that Ari Gold fever will hit its peak over the coming months.
In short, Ari Gold is a pop culture icon that gives Blackberry a shot of cool.
At a crucial time in the company’s history where they are betting the house on this launch, one would love to think that Blackberry tried to get Jeremy Piven – maybe even in character as Ari – to get involved as the “brand ambassador of the people”. It would be a refreshing point of talkability that uses their relaunch as an opportunity to reinject some “cool” into the veins of the brand and distract people away from the inevitable feature comparison against iPhones and Androids (a race they will have a tough time winning as they play catch up).
To quote Don Draper, another famous TV icon: “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation”. As Samsung and co. move in for the kill, it’s more important than ever for Blackberry to play to their strengths and capitalise on the image that gained them loyalists in the first place.
Blackberry needs to rekindle the Torch, rediscover their ‘Berries and do something Bold. Opportunites like this don’t come around every day, and this one was Golden.