BlackBerry's Super Bowl ad: It's already a loser

An execution would certainly constitute a unique marketing campaign, and especially well-suited to the half-time entertainment spectacle

A still from the BlackBerry ad

A still from the BlackBerry ad

Representatives of The-Company-Formerly-Known-as-Research-in-Motion have reached out to embrace the company's legions of followers on "social channels" in arms of love. They gently remind us that this Sunday, Feb. 3, "BlackBerry will be featured in Super Bowl XLVII [or 47 for the Roman Numerally challenged] for the first time ever."

This doesn't mean that BlackBerry executives will be suiting up to take on the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, since "football" means something different in Canada.

What it means is that The-Company-Now-Known-as-BlackBerry will be airing a TV commercial. Except they don't call it a commercial. They call it, rather creepily, an "execution." "This unique execution will be part of a broad marketing campaign about the totally re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented BlackBerry." (Let's just condense that to "the totally re-deenined BlackBerry.")

An execution would certainly constitute a unique marketing campaign, and especially well-suited to the half-time entertainment spectacle.

[ REVIEW ROUNDUP: BlackBerry Z10 smartphone: Bloggers, tech sites praise hardware, mixed on software ]

To further whet our appetite and stoke our imaginations, BlackBerry is sharing a still image taken from the commercial through their social channels, "including 30 million fans on Facebook and Twitter." And why? "To draw them into a conversation about BlackBerry 10 during this highly social event."

That's the plan: draw millions of viewers into a conversation about a TV commercial during this highly social football event. The idea is that instead of talking about the merits of the 49ers' pistol offense, Colin Kaepernick's tattoos, or whether Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs can beat 49ers left offensive tackle Joe Staley and keep pressure on Kaepernick, they'll be talking about pastel-colored smoke puffs.

Here is the still image selected for social channelization by BlackBerry from execution. Notice the pastel-colored smoke puffs blossoming on a nearly empty street.

BlackBerry-Super-Bowl.jpg -
BlackBerry-Super-Bowl.jpg -
To further aid this social conversation, this 140-character digital engagement, we offer the following on the BlackBerry execution.

First, note that there is no danger here of a wardrobe malfunction or other untowardness.

What of the choice of colors: red, orange and blue? These were not idly chosen. Perhaps they represent auras, the "particular atmosphere that surrounds every living thing" (and may the Force be with you, Luke) or in this case every inanimate object. The pastel tones "indicate a positive condition."

Red "generally shows the status of physical life, or the personality; denotes creativity and regeneration" and probably re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented. The "strong orange presence may indicate a person who could be a gifted healer" and BlackBerry's market share certainly needs healing. Blue is a "spiritual color and most people find all shades of blue to be beautiful," even though the Z10 is a kind of slate-gray color.

The automobile seems to be an earlier-model BMW sedan: dated but still elegant, or just another dinosaur? Is it forlornly or perhaps hopefully waiting there on the otherwise empty street, suggesting BlackBerry itself anticipating buyers of its new smartphones? Or was the car chosen to hint at BlackBerry CEO Thorstein Heins' passion for BMW motorcycles, and make an ever-so-subtle association between the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone and German-engineered power, coolness and leather outerwear?

Plenty to talk about on Sunday.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email:

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