afaqs!

BlackBerry: Are you missing something without BBM?

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 26, 2011
In its latest ad campaign, BlackBerry inspires the youth to join the BlackBerry community through its proprietary instant messenger, the BBM.

In the third ad campaign, titled 'Are you missing something?' for brand BlackBerry, Orchard Advertising now addresses the task of expanding the appeal of the brand beyond the business market. Clearly targetting the youth, the interrogative campaign title positions the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) as the preferred communication medium to stay connected with friends and questions the TG (target group) if they're missing out on something without the BBM.

The first commercial, released in February 2010, was the launch film of BlackBerry in India for RIM (Research In Motion). The second commercial, released in November 2010, went on to delve into the notion of young BlackBerry users and the world that they inhabit. Both ads carried the tagline, 'Do what you love, love what you do'.

Besides direct advertisements, BlackBerry has been visible on the advertising circuit, courtesy network providers such as Vodafone and Airtel. While Vodafone rolled out its much-talked about 'We are the BlackBerry Boys' television commercial that underscored a shift in the brand's TG from corporate honchos to the lay youth, Airtel's ad highlighted the brand's BBM feature and the convenient conversations it enables amongst youngsters.

Conceptualised by Orchard Advertising Mumbai, the current four-film campaign ('Four guys and a girl', 'Music Lovers', 'New Car' and 'Class Note') leverages the BBM application by showcasing four situations in which youngsters benefit from the features of this offering.

Each ad showcases a different facet of the application, including status message updates, music sharing, instant delivery of messages and the option of scanning friends before adding them to one's messenger list. At the end of each film, the affordable price offering of the phone is highlighted through a super on the screen; this emphasises the fact that youngsters are the core TG of the communication.

Creative credit for the campaign goes to Hemant Kumar Sivan, executive creative director, Orchard Advertising and Ajay Menon, creative director (the latter wrote the scripts and the lyrics). Rajiv Vishwanathan, vice-president on the account and Ameya Mohane, brand director are also part of the core team at the agency. The films have been created by the production house MAD Entertainment and directed by Francois Merlet. Sunil Manchanda is the producer, while Vicky Goswami is the music director.

Although Vodafone's ad for BlackBerry seems to have captured the shift in the brand's core TG (corporate professionals to youngsters), the agency claims that right from the beginning, it has made a concerted effort to change the image of a BlackBerry user from a "suit". Regarding the current campaign, Vishwanathan explains how the ads move from the functional into the emotional space. "We chose to move away from talking about the features and focussed more on the underlying emotions," he says.

Lending a perspective into the creative aspect, Kumar shares, "Unlike other chat platforms, BBM is an intimate space with only close friends allowed into the haloed circle. That's how 'Are you missing something?' came alive."

The media mix includes television, print, outdoor and digital activities. RIM India has also conducted activations, including interactions across popular hangouts such as malls, cafes and colleges across Indian cities. Merchandising is also a very big part of the campaign and the eight-city activation will be launched shortly. These on-ground activities are aimed at educating youngsters about the potential of the BBM and facilitating more 'brand conversions', drawing in those who're not already a part of the BlackBerry community.

Is the campaign missing something?

Priti Nair, co-founder, Curry-Nation, says that the ads are "young" and "well-shot". "I just wish it would have been a little more 'mad', with a sharper personality, instead of 'correct'."

Is the communication too skewed towards just one feature -- the BBM? "The BBM feature is unique to BlackBerry. It's the BBM feature that has made the BlackBerry magical for youngsters -- so it's the right feature to own and advertise. No one else has it," Nair asserts.

She finds the music sweet and the situations depicted in the TVCs very cute. "The casting in particular is really nice," Nair appreciates, adding, "But, I just wish it had been slightly more on the fun side, perhaps with some more fun characters thrown in or some funny situations - like the guy pretending he is driving the car in the 'Congrats' film."

Brijesh Jacob, managing partner, White Canvas, feels that while the ads take BlackBerry forward purely from a brand perspective, in terms of profiling, the campaign fails to provide anything new. "The campaign doesn't tell me anything new about the BBM; Vodafone's 'BlackBerry Boys' ad already established the youth as the main users of the BlackBerry and the Airtel ad -- in which the boys in a hostel are shown communicating via the BBM after dark -- has already highlighted how the BBM enables convenient conversations," Jacob explains.

Regarding the story lines in the films, he says that they're good as they're young and peppy. However, he is unimpressed by the execution. Though Jacob feels that there's nothing wrong in highlighting the brand's key differentiator, the BBM, the key, according to him, lies in strategy.

"The trick now," Jacob suggests, "is to see for how long this can go on and to see how they take the concept of conversations forward with the BBM. More usage patterns could be given to consumers -- perhaps use of the application in a library setting."

Amongst the four films, Jacob's favourite is the one titled 'Code'. However, he finds the 'Music Lover' film "tacky". "The film about the new car is very 'Vodafon-ish' as it reminds me of the ad in which everyone knows that a man has bought a diamond ring for someone," he says. Regarding the film about instant feedback, he opines that regular text messages and accompanying delivery reports serve the same purpose.

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