SXSW: BlackBerry Launches Robert Rodriguez Project Ahead of U.S. Debut
March 18, 2013 | Russ Martin | Comments
A line of film students eagerly awaiting Robert Rodriguez snaked around the yard of the BlackBerry House, a complex of three small homes the smartphone maker converted into a branded experience for SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Posters for Two Scoops, the short film Rodriguez is making in collaboration with BlackBerry, were stacked on a table in one of the houses, ready for the Sin City filmmaker to sign. Two Scoops is a crowdsourced effort that has already been partially shot. It will be completed after Rodriguez and BlackBerry select fan work to include in the film.
Rob Glen, BlackBerry’s senior director of brand marketing, sat on a chair on the house’s front law, explaining that Rodriguez was selected for the project because of his online footprint (137,000 Twitter followers and 43,000 Facebook fans) as well as his fit with the brand.
By working with creatives like Rodriguez, Glen said the brand has been able to increase positive sentiment among consumers outside of its mainstay business demographic.
“It aligns with our brand because our mission is to enable success,” Glen said. “We’ve engaged with our ambassadors to demonstrate that if you put BlackBerry 10 in the hands of powerful, amazing people, you’ll see amazing things happen.”
As it did with Alicia Keys, BlackBerry documented Rodriguez as he shot Two Scoops and will use the footage for additional promotion.
For his part, Rodriguez said he was intrigued by the “Keep Moving” campaign concept and the idea that BlackBerry is for “people who want to get things done.” While Two Scoops was not filmed using the Z10, Rodriguez said he gave the phone to his crew. “I had BlackBerrys to hand out to the crew so that when we were filming, whether we were taking pictures or panoramas, if someone was building a set outside and I couldn’t run over there, they could send me images,” he said.
Rodriguez is one of three celebrity brand ambassadors creating projects for the “Keep Moving” campaign – Alicia Keys and the British Author Neil Gaiman are also ambassadors. By selecting these three celebrities, whose fan bases align with very different parts of the market, Glen said BlackBerry has been able to target a diverse set of consumers.
“We wanted to use people who were successful in different fields to spread out our marketing message, our story of BlackBerry,” he said. “We’re engaging in as broad of a fan base as possible.”
Ahead of the wide release of the Z10, BlackBerry announced one of its U.S. carriers received 1 million pre-orders, news that was met with surprise and some skepticism in the tech press. Glen wouldn’t disclose who the unnamed partner is and said only that “there is certainly a lot of excitement from all of our carrier partners in the U.S.”
BlackBerry launched the Z10 “Keep Moving” campaign several months ago with pre-launch initiatives that focused on awareness, including a PR push aimed at press, analysts and “influencers,” documented in Marketing last month. It also released a US Super Bowl spot as well as a second brand spot that ran throughout North America. Glen said BlackBerry plans to release additional TV spots in line with the post Super Bowl ad once the phone is in market.
The release of the Z10 comes on the heels of rival smartphone maker Samsung’s announcement of the GS4, which is expected to go on sale in most markets in late April. Glen acknowledged that achieving success in the U.S. market, where the BlackBerry was once the “device of choice,” is a challenge but said he is confident about the company’s prospects.
“It is our biggest challenge, but we’re up to the challenge and we feel it will be the biggest tech turnaround in history.”
The Z10’s widespread US release begins on March 22 when it goes on sale at AT&T.