Update: RIM updated their blog to state that the images and characters in question are were meant to be a bit of fun, and not the vanguard of the company’s new marketing plan.
Way back in December, before a management shakeup saw him and his partner leaving RIM’s top posts, co-CEO Jim Balsillie lamented the state of the company’s marketing efforts. They hadn’t “achieved the desired results” as he put it during RIM’s Q4 earnings call, and promised big things to come on the marketing front come 2012.
Things seemed to start off well — you couldn’t watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve without getting an eye-full of BlackBerry logos imploring you to “be bold” in in the new year.
Then the Bold Team happened. Somehow, when RIM’s marketing department was brainstorming ways to get people to take them seriously as a worthwhile competitor in the smartphone market, the concept of using small ethnically-diverse cartoon superheroes not only came up but stuck.
Let’s meet the team, shall we?
Look, it’s not as though I don’t understand what RIM is going for here. The implication is that BlackBerry users don’t fit the corporate drone archetype that people associate with the brand. They’re active, they’re motivated, and yes, they enjoy a good ninja movie just like the rest of us.
RIM is trying to humanize the brand (or in this case, super-humanize) in an attempt to show people that using a BlackBerry isn’t a mark of the tragically uncool or the hopeless workaholic. All of this in hopes that people who would have otherwise written off BlackBerrys would give it a second thought when it came time to extend their contracts.
“Trying,” of course, is the keyword.
It’s not as though they don’t deserve credit for giving something new a try. RIM took a… ahem… bold step here by trying to shake off their business-oriented pallor, and while I don’t expect them to gain much headway if they try to play up the Burger King Kids Club, at least it shows that they’re open to taking some risks.
The bigger issue in play here is that while pumping up the BlackBerry brand is a necessary move for RIM, their product lines don’t seem quite up to snuff yet. With a leaked roadmap pointing to the first BlackBerry 10 device hitting the streets in September, it’ll be quite a while before RIM gets the fresh start they’ve needed for so long. Meanwhile, with hardware revamps and middling handsets peppering the first half of the year, even BlackBerry faithful will have to live with a considerable dry spell.
With any luck, this was just a one-off promotional effort, and we’ll never see these little creatures again.