BlackBerry 10 Ad a Winner with Super Bowl Fans

BlackBerry might have spent as much as $4 million on a Super Bowl commercial that showed what its new Z10 smartphone can't do.

BlackBerry, during Sunday's Super Bowl, kicked off the second major phase of a three-part marketing campaign designed to rouse enthusiasm for its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and Z10 smartphone, which several carriers in the United States will begin selling in March.

The 30-second spot during the third quarter, rumored to have cost as much as $4 million to air—shooting the ad, which took place on a back lot in Los Angeles over three days, no doubt had its own oversized bill—didn't even attempt to show off the features of the smartphone or its long-awaited OS. It didn't even show the phone in close-up until the 28th second.

The ad opens with a man exiting a store with his new Z10 and quickly bursting into flames—which he extinguishes with the Z10. He then evaporates into a colorful cloud of smoke, grows elephant legs and looks up to find a jack-knifed tractor trailer sliding toward him—all problems he addresses with his new BlackBerry.

"In 30 seconds, it's quicker to show you what it can't do," says an announcer, as the truck magically transforms into so many squeaky rubber ducks.

"In our debut appearance at the Super Bowl, we knew that it wasn't feasible to communicate the rich experience of BlackBerry 10. We decided to use the light-hearted spirit of the Super Bowl ads to showcase what BlackBerry 10 can't do," Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at BlackBerry, said in a Feb. 3 statement.

"We wanted to let people know that BlackBerry is back, and that BlackBerry 10 is worth checking out," Boulben added.

Boulben told eWEEK during a Jan. 31 interview that people can now expect to begin being prompted toward short videos about what BlackBerry 10 can do, which the company hopes will continue a campaign that it began in September.

"We began to do numerous face-to-face demonstrations—with CIOs, developers, CEOs, but also entrepreneurs, celebrities, reporters, musicians, sports people," Boulben explained. "The idea was to show what the device is capable of, so that they could start talking about it."

While a Super Bowl ad helps, personal referrals are the ultimate marketing tool, according to Boulben.

Whether BlackBerry's third-quarter investment started people talking remains to be seen. But people did like it.

On the NFL Website, it was the top-rated ad of the quarter, with 11,295 votes, handily beating a sentimental baby-Clydesdale-featuring Budweiser ad that received 9,206 votes and a "Gangnam Style" knock-off featuring rapper PSY for, of all things, pistachio nuts. That ad received 2,599 votes.

When asked what, in six months' time, Boulben would like the BlackBerry brand to represent, he answered, "What I'd like it to represent in six months is that we have redefined what mobile computing means, what the smartphone experience means. There is so much innovation in BlackBerry 10 ... I want the world, in six months, to acknowledge that BlackBerry pushed the boundaries of the smartphone experience and mobile computing once again."

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