It feels like we’re getting to the point where it’s just not fun anymore to mock Research In Motion for its penchant for stumbling from one disaster to another. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, 2011 was not just a bad year for RIM; it was one of the worst years in corporate history. Almost 80% of the company’s share value was wiped out in a matter of months as it systematically failed to address serious issues – from half-baked products and service outages to questionable priorities and endless delays – under the stewardship of not one, but two concurrent CEOs.
The men who presided over this unmitigated catastrophe – Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis – finally stepped down just over a week ago, to be replaced by Thorsten Heins, RIM’s former chief operations officer. One of his priorities – in the man’s own words, via an official company video – was to improve RIM’s market performance “by bringing some really good marketing expertise in”. As the company’s latest marketing campaign has now been revealed by Canadian site MobileSyrup, the scale of the task that lies ahead for RIM becomes painfully clear.
Before anything else, we should be clear on one thing: this marketing campaign isn’t entirely the fault of Heins. It was conceived while Balsillie and Lazaridis were still in charge, and set in motion during New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York, through tweets that drunk, exhausted party-goers submitted via the #BeBold hashtag. Even so, Heins should probably be held accountable for not pulling the plug on this fiasco within minutes of assuming his new role as CEO.
RIM requested that users tweet how they planned to ‘be bold’ in 2012 and, it is claimed, “four Bold characters emerged from your #BeBold resolutions – all are bravely stepping out of 2011 and into 2012 filled with unlimited possibilities”. Now, weeks into the new year, and long after pretty much everyone has already abandoned their resolutions, RIM's keen sense of timeliness, and its ability to strike while the iron is hot, remain pretty much true to form.
And so, it’s with a deep and heavy sigh, that we meet RIM’s team of cartoon superheroes:
Justin Steele: The Advocate – “outgoing and kind; his hobbies include saving cats caught in trees and using Social Feeds in his spare time”
Trudy Foreal: The Authentic – “not afraid to call it as she sees it; enjoys long walks on the beach and old-school ninja movies”
Max Stone: The Adventurer – “tough, proud and a little wild; but you can count on Max to face any challenge”
Gogo Girl: The Achiever – “clever, resourceful and just a bit random”
I know what all of these words mean individually, but does anyone understand why they've all been thrown together in this way, or why a marketing campaign has been built around it all? What does this say about the BlackBerry brand? What message does RIM want us to take away from this? What should we, as consumers, be doing with this information?
The full-length infographic doesn't appear to shed much more light on where this is all going, but if you have any idea what the devil's going on here, let us know in the comments below.
Update: An anonymous - but very, very angry (and possibly masked/caped) - tipster has contacted us to demand that we "report the truth", by pointing out that RIM has made a clarification since this article was published, emphasising that this dreadful superhero nonsense is, mercifully, "not a new ad campaign". We are, of course, happy to oblige in the name of upholding truth and justice.
Still absolutely no idea what the point of the exercise was though. Are we supposed to go buy a BlackBerry now?