As part of a massive global campaign to revitalize its brand, Research In Motion Ltd. is spending millions to be included in the largest advertising event of the year in the United States: the Super Bowl broadcast.
For the first time, RIM will spend the money to release a Super Bowl ad during next Sunday's game, the company announced on Friday. The 30-second spot will run on television in the U.S. – where the big game commercials are reportedly running at roughly $4-million (U.S.) a pop – as well as during the broadcast in Canada.
The ad will feature the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that RIM is preparing to launch officially next week. The platform undergirds RIM's newest line of smartphones and tablets, and RIM's future is riding on its success.
"A Super Bowl commercial is a great opportunity to show the redesigned, re-engineered and reinvented BlackBerry to tens of millions of consumers on the largest advertising stage of the year," Frank Boulben, RIM's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
This week will represent a global push to promote the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the two devices that will operate on it.
If RIM has its way, it will also represent a shift away from some recent marketing missteps. For example, in May the company was criticized for a bizarre campaign in Australia that featured a staged protest outside an Apple store in Sydney.
The stunt featured people dressed in black carrying signs that read "Wake Up!" It also staged similar protest-style events around the city.
And a year ago, RIM had to do some damage control, insisting that a team of cartoon superheroes introduced on Twitter were not in fact part of a new ad campaign.
The Bold Team included members such as Gogo Girl and Justin Steele, intended to represent BlackBerry consumer attributes, but were quickly mocked online and on social media.
There are more serious marketing concerns, as well. Repeated delays in the release of the new operating system hobbled the brand while its smartphone competition stole customers with more appealing devices and constant updates. In October, a report by consulting firm Interbrand found that RIM's "brand value" had fallen by 39 per cent in one year. BlackBerry now sits at No. 93 on Interbrand's global list of the 100 most valuable brands, down from No. 56 the previous year – a fall that outpaced the decline of any brand in the rankings since the economic crisis hit home in 2009.
The Super Bowl is just the beginning of the company's efforts to redeem the brand. RIM will also be running digital events around the Super Bowl on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It will be buying ad time before and after the game to appear in sponsored posts on those sites.