BlackBerry CMO: ‘We will be more open’

BlackBerry says part of its rebrand from its former name RIM includes the ambition to be more “open” in its marketing and the way it interacts with partners as it launches its biggest campaign ever for its new make or break operating system (OS) BB10, which it hopes will quickly become the “number three” mobile ecosystem globally.

BlackBerry CMO Frank Boulben told Marketing Week the transformation from a “house of brands” to a branded house has allowed the company to readdress its core values. It sums these up with the acronym “Bold”: to be brave, open, lean and dependable.

He added: “You will see us becoming more open and engaged in two way dialogue with our audience. We’ve already started that with our developer partners, which is why we’re launching with more than 70,000 apps. Openness is a very important value.”

His assertions come following a series of interviews BlackBerry’s European managing director Stephen Bates gave the BBC ahead of BB10’s launch on Wednesday (30 January), after which he was lambasted by journalists and on social media for seemingly refusing to answer the presenters’ questions on “what went wrong” to cause BB10’s series of launch delays and whether the company took inspiration from Apple’s iPhone.

UK marketing activity for BlackBerry’s make or break OS BB10 and two new compatible handsets – part of a global campaign with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars – launches on Wednesday (6 February) and will carry a “keep moving” theme to demonstrate the software’s capabilities.

Activity will feature BlackBerry’s new global creative director Alicia Keys, film director Robert Rodriguez and author Neil Gaiman, introducing the brand’s “Keep Moving Project”: a series of online films demonstrating how they engage with their BB10 devices and the invitation for users to share their own stories.

At the heart of the activity will be a “real time marketing” push across search, video, direct marketing, social media, CRM and mobile, where the brand will trial formats for the first time. Such approaches include mobile browser takeovers targeting Android and iOS users with BlackBerry videos and a Google Chrome ad, which will replicate the BlackBerry Hub and allow customers of rival operating systems to trial some of the features of BB10.

Analysts have suggested BlackBerry will look to target the “low hanging fruit” of its existing user base in a bid to shift units quickly, but Boulben says this is not quite the case. More than half of pre-registrations for BB10 in Canada are people that are not currently BlackBerry users, he adds.

Instead, BlackBerry is looking to appeal to three key users: executives, working mums and teen students. After the initial launch campaign, BlackBerry will look to “be more intelligent” about segmenting these audiences and targeting them with messaging about specific features they may be interested in.

While Boulben would not reveal the exact investment in the campaign, he said: “We have $2.9bn in cash and no debt. We don’t measure the success of campaigns by what we put in, I’m more focused on measuring output.”

BlackBerry will determine the success of the initial launch campaign by monitoring the brand’s NPS score.

Boulben says: “NPS is a very good early indicator of market share. We want to be very quickly the number three operating system everywhere we launch with this new ecosystem [alone].”

In the UK, BlackBerry is currently the third biggest operating system by market share, according to comScore data for December. It has 14 per cent of the UK smartphone market, less than a third of the size of market leader Google (48 per cent) and also behind Apple (28 per cent).

In the US, BlackBerry only has a 6 per cent share of the smartphone market in the territory, behind Apple with 36 per cent and Google with 53 per cent.

Read Lara O’Reilly’s view on why she believes BlackBerry must disrupt to gain market share.

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