The tech world is no stranger to crazy billion dollar marketing budgets and massive campaigns that stretch to cover everything from print to mobile and in-store promotions to Times Square takeovers. So in the run-up to the US launch of BlackBerry’s new Z10 smartphone, you’d expect the manufacturer to quickly capitalise on the hype with some innovative campaign. So, what does the company formerly known as RIM have up its sleeve?
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Takeovers. Big, flashy, real-time, mobile and desktop takeovers. Speaking to Forbes, BlackBerry’s chief marketing officer Frank Boulben explained that the company would be deploying full screen takeovers targeting Android and Apple devices, starting this week. In addition to the ‘Keep Moving’ commercials airing on TV screens in the US, the mobile ads will show off some of BlackBerry 10’s features to competitors. Yep, your iPhone will look like it’s replicated the Z10’s camera functionality as the screen is filled with the ad that demonstrates BlackBerry’s time shift camera functionality, that allows you to scroll through versions of a person’s face in the photo. At a later stage, BlackBerry also plans to roll out ads challenging mobile users to a typing contest, to show how the Z10’s flick-typing functionality and speedy keyboard.
The takeovers, which were piloted in the UK (where the device was available soon after launch), gathered an average engagement rate of 4.2 minutes — a high number for mobile ads. They’ll soon appear on the desktop screens of readers of the New York Times too, replicating the functionality of BlackBerry 10’s hub, which is the central location for all your notifications and updates. In this case, the hub will feature updates from the Times’ feed and social accounts.
BlackBerry hasn’t given an exact figure of how much it’s spending on marketing its new devices, but it’s estimated to be hovering in the tens of millions. It’s a tough market to crack: currently, Apple’s iPhone is the most popular smartphone with a 38% share of the market in the country, although Android is the dominant operating system, running on 52.3% of devices. But Boulben thinks that BlackBerry can get some dissatisfied customers over to try out its revamped phones, as its UK sales suggested a third of Z10 buyers were jumping ship from another platform. “I expect [buyers coming from other platforms] to be a substantial minority of sales in every market and I don’t see why the U.S. would be any different,” he said.