Sep 25, 2009 at 03:51 PM
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Did Blackberry's U2 Deal Expand Appeal?

Shares of Research in Motion sunk 15% today after Blackberry's parent company forecasted weaker than expected third-quarter sales projections and indicated it may cut prices on some products.

Heading into the Q3 Blackberry will continue to invest in integrated marketing campaigns, in an effort to expand product appeal and go toe-to-toe with the likes of Palm and Apple for mainstream marketshare.

RIM Co-Chief Executive Officer, Philanthropist and prospective NHL owner, Jim Balisle offered this:

Over the summer, RIM continued to build the value of the BlackBerry brand by launching a multi-tiered co-marketing campaign with the band U2. The campaign included a new television ad and digital marketing push promoting the new U2 mobile album and gave RIM the exclusive marketing rights as the official presenting sponsor for the U2 360 degree tour which began in Western Europe and is now touring throughout North America.

You'll recall that Blackberry has taken some heat for the partnership that some believe is a weak attempt to rebrand Blackberry as consumer and cool.

Balisle continues:

In Q3, RIM will continue to build awareness and purchase intent for BlackBerry products and services globally by investing in an integrated marketing campaign that helps expand the appeal of the brand to people from all walks of life while supporting the introduction of our products and services.

We believe this new campaign will drive greater awareness and brand value and will leverage the already strong BlackBerry brand to drive strong sell-through into the holiday season and beyond.

How will BB price to consumer audiences?

Balisle: you have a lot of moving parts here and once people get in this Gen X and Gen Y, once you see the different products we have coming, you see how you can move to higher end and there’s higher media and higher UI and higher packaging and a lot of pretty exciting things that these bring, so -- and they tend not to leave when they are there and they tend to grow up with you and upgrade and we think there’s going to be a rabid, a voracious appetite for much richer kinds of services.

On consuming and sharing content and experiences...

Balisle: this is about availing much, much deeper platform and service capabilities so that you can have a redefined kind of application experiences and I can't tip my hat too much on that stuff but at the end of the day, it translates into a customer, a client who is really, really happy and really, really ready to consumer heavily and get their peers and friends to consume heavily.

How do carriers feel about marketing campaigns?

Balisle: We have incredibly high compatibility with the carriers strategically and Edel talked about some of these marketing brand campaigns, which the carrier feedback we are getting from it is very, very positive.

Timing of new marketing campaigns?

Balisle: The ramp-up in Q3 is really a lot of this branding campaign that we talked a lot about that’s going to be hitting in a number of markets shortly in the next few weeks.

Blackberry has for some time used music to market its products, but the U2 campaign signified a shift to a broader marketing/demographic play. In 2007, Blackberry sponsored “BlackBerry Presents John Mayer in Concert” and in 2008 Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet Tour.

Can extensive brand marketing campaigns such as "Blackberry Loves U2" help RIM maintain pricing power and communicate new product capabilities, in the fact of price cutting competitors?