afaqs!

BlackBerry - Getting younger with time

By Anushree Bhattacharyya, Devina Joshi and Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, New Delhi and Mumbai | In Advertising | February 07, 2011
BlackBerry's (BB) growth graph underwent some noteworthy changes since Indians first began using the smart phone. Year 2010, in particular, contributed to pushing it higher.

BlackBerry's (BB) growth graph underwent some noteworthy changes since Indians first began using the smart phone. Year 2010, in particular, contributed to pushing it higher. Last year, the smart phone maker came up with a smart move. It introduced lower-end variants for consumers who were young but could not afford expensive phones. It changed young India's way of looking at themselves and their peers. Blackberry's approach to the young rode on the BB Messenger (BBM).

When it was launched, BB was the gadget that helped corporate honchos organise their schedule better, stay connected to one another and avail official emails and other internet resources instantly. This year, however, the BB's TG expanded beyond expectations. What began as a high-end premium product found its way into the restless, enthusiastic hands of India's vast pool of youth. Today, the BB is as much a gadget of the youth as it is an official phone.

The youth took to BBM with unbridled enthusiasm. Just look at how many teens, tweens and young adults have furnished the 'About Me' section of their Facebook pages with their eight character-long BB Pin Numbers. This enables other BB owners to connect with them and find a place on their instant chat-list. This section used to be one where users of the social networking site could write a few words that described them best and gave those who visited their page some insight about the person, his likes, dislikes and core personality traits. Instead, BB-obsessed addicts merely put up their Pin, a seemingly dry, alphanumeric, sometimes only numeric string of letter and numbers.

On the creative front, brand BB gave the advertising industry something to talk about when it awarded its creative mandate to Orchard Advertising. The brand's media duties lie with Starcom MediaVest. Though the brand is not too active on the communication front, it has managed to expand seamlessly. In the recent past, the brand made some noise with an ad film that floated the catchphrase, "Do what you love, love what you do". This happened to be the first time BB - which relies on word-of-mouth communication - rolled out any big advertising message in the TV space.

Service provider Vodafone took note of the youth-slant and launched a much-talked about advertising campaign that attempted to position the phone as a device not just for uptight executives, but also for trendy youngsters who checked their emails and 'pinged' their friends every twenty seconds. The campaign titled BlackBerry Boys was created by Vodafone's creative agency, Ogilvy India. The campaign served to push Vodafone's BlackBerry service plans for its prepaid customers in India at affordable prices. While premium variants such as the BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry Bold did well, the brand's affordable products such as the BlackBerry Curve also grew increasingly popular.

The Messenger was used in various other ways. UTV World Movies, for instance, launched a special BlackBerry Messenger to reach out to cinema fans across India and provide easy access to a range of content on world cinema. UTV World Movies used BBM as a platform to discuss world cinema, share related information and execute interactive contests with its users.

BB has had a good time, barring the run-in with the government about access rights. According to brand consultant Ashok Dhingra, BlackBerry has evolved into an iconic, cult brand in 2010, so much so that it makes Nokia look outdated. He however claims that the marketing strategy followed by BB is exactly the same as that of Nokia. "Nokia used to come up with new innovations and premium variants every now and then, milk them for a while and then drop the price of its previous variants. BB is doing that now," he elaborates, adding that it has helped the brand percolate to all sections of society.

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