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Smartphone maker launches curious cartoon campaign amid plunging sales

Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (TSE:RIM) plunged to a 4.5 percent share in the U.S. market during holiday 2012.  

The company is clinging to profit margins thanks to strong sales in emerging markets like China (who is the new largest smartphone market), markets which gravitate towards budget smartphones with lower end hardware -- RIM's specialty.  But RIM's dominance in these sectors may be short lived as they are increasingly looking to emulate the American market in turning to sleek Android handsets or the iPhone.  

I. RIM Goes Full Hard on Superhero Campaign

But don't worry, investors.  RIM has a plan -- superheroes.  No, really.

RIM has put out a bizarre marketing campaign to boost its sinking market share.  The campaign features childish cartoon caricatures (think 2D versions of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Xbox Live avatars).

RIM Superheroes
[Image Source: RIM]

Meet Gogo Girl (left), who "saves the day with a brilliant strategy",  Justin Steele (bottom left), who's "always ready to stick up for his friends"; Trudy Foreal (middle), who "isn't afraid to call it as she sees it"; and Max Stone who is "able to jump out of a plane."

The full campaign aired in a RIM blog.

The characters were part of a fancy infographic:

RIM infographic
[Image Source: RIM]
 
RIM writes:

[F]our bold characters emerged from your #BeBold resolutions, and it’s clear to us that all are bravely stepping out of 2011 and into a 2012 filled with unlimited possibilities. Which are you? Tell @BlackBerry on Twitter!

II. RIM: The Trouble Child of the Smartphone Market

But this is hardly the first sign that the company's grasp of reality may be slipping.  After being outsold nearly 10-to-1 on the U.S. market by Android, new CEO Thorsten Heins claimed that Android phones were unappealing and that all of them were the same.  

While Heins was clearly getting at software differentiation, the majority of consumers don't seem to be finding BlackBerry's fee-laden messaging and email services all that appealing.  While their strong encryption may be a selling point to privacy fanatics, politicians, CEOs, or other high profile officials that handle sensitive transactions on a regular basis, to the average Joe or Jane they're a lot of buck for not much bang, compared to free offerings from rivals.

Mr. Heins was bumped up from the chief operating officer spot, which he came to in 2007 after years at Germany's Siemens AG (ETR:SIE).  Many -- including a vocal investor contingent -- felt the ouster of long time co-CEOs (and company co-founders) Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis was much overdue.

Mr. Heins, for his part, vows to "stay the course", saying that making smartphones "isn't baking cookies."

Kanye baking cookies
[Original Image Source: The Onion, modifications -- DailyTech/Jason Mick]

The "Be Bold" campaign was first announced on Jan. 1 and its new cartoonish mascots just hit the web.  RIM hopes to use the characters to lure consumers back to the company.  RIM will launch in H2 2012 the delayed BB 10 OS, which incorporates elements of QNX.  The new OS was delayed due to RIM's difficulties in attaining acceptable LTE performance, according to company officials.  RIM was forced to rename the OS after its executives (reportedly) refused to listen to their legal staff and named it BBX -- a name that was already trademark by a business software company.

While RIM has struggled in the era of modern touchscreen smartphones with outright flops like the Storm and underwhelming performers like the Torch, it does at least have one strong selling point left for the masses -- it has the best physical keyboards (hands down) in the industry.

Sources: RIM [blog], Engadget



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

What?
By Flunk on 1/31/2012 11:45:12 AM , Rating: 2
Is this targeted at a child audience? or teenage and young women? It really seems to miss the mark.




RE: What?
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/31/2012 12:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Is this targeted at a child audience? or teenage and young women? It really seems to miss the mark.

Yup, the target audience is Pirks. :)


RE: What?
By Motoman on 1/31/2012 12:11:33 PM , Rating: 2
Oh my. And/or a few choice others. Editorial smacktalk of users in the comments - gotta love it.


RE: What?
By geddarkstorm on 1/31/2012 1:00:55 PM , Rating: 2
It's all just tough love <3. Pirks is adorable, just like RIM's superheroes.

Now, if RIM really wanted to get people back into their fold, they should go for the dark and gritty, like Batman.


RE: What?
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/31/2012 1:55:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's all just tough love <3. Pirks is adorable, just like RIM's superheroes.

Exactly, I would never talk smack about Pirks. Be it Apple or RIM he's provided us with hours of free entertainment, and I'm pretty sure we've entertained him as well.

To quote Dewey Finn (Jack Black), "I have been touched by your kids... and I'm pretty sure that I've touched them."
quote:
Now, if RIM really wanted to get people back into their fold, they should go for the dark and gritty, like Batman.

Just wait. When CEO #2 rolls along they'll go No Man's Land Batman on us. That will blow our minds... I might actually buy a BlackBerry if their sponsor was No Man's Land Batman.


RE: What?
By Motoman on 1/31/2012 7:02:02 PM , Rating: 1
...so they just need to hire Frank Miller?


RE: What?
By JasonMick (blog) on 1/31/2012 11:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...so they just need to hire Frank Miller?
I'm pretty sure Frank Miller could fix even RIM's problems....


RE: What?
By Trisped on 1/31/2012 2:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
If they are selling low cost phones, would it not be better to target an audience which wants a nice phone, but does not have money?

Plus, if they get the kids hooked, they will customers for life.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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