Nobody likes a flash mob more than a public relations agency in the employ of a big multi-national company. And nobody likes to fiddle while Rome burns quite like Research In Motion. And I’ve had enough of both.
You might have seen the little PR stunt outside an Apple store in Australia last week that went viral online: a gang dressed in black gathered outside to tell shoppers to “Wake Up”. Many assumed it to be Samsung, which in the run up to its Galaxy S3 launch event on Thursday night, had been gently mocking iPhone owners by calling them sheep – and has taken potshots at Apple devotees who wait in line in adverts before.
Samsung might have been able to get away with this. With runaway sales, its Galaxy S line of Android smartphones is the only legitimate rival to the mighty iPhone when it comes to performance, and just out-and-out consumer lust and loyalty.
But no: it transpires today that RIM, the Canadian company behind the BlackBerry, was actually responsible for the stunt. The Age confirmed the connection after hunting around in the accompanying Wake Up website’s code, and RIM Australia has now confirmed that it formed part of a marketing campaign.
“We can confirm that the Australian ‘Wake Up’ campaign, which involves a series of experiential activities taking place across Sydney and Melbourne, was created by RIM Australia,” RIM announced in a statement.
I’m really quite sick and tired of this now. No RIM, you wake up.
RIM’s marketing ploys of late have moved from bad to shambolic. The cringeworthy cartoon super heroes. Fudging sales numbers to make it look like RIM is doing better than it actually is (You can read more on that here: in short, it compared many models against a handful from rivals).
Then there’s BlackBerry World, which starts today in Orlando, Florida. Typically, that’d be the place to launch a new flagship product. But no, there’s no unveiling of a new BlackBerry 10 phone. No, all we’ve had so far is a new accessory, which lets you stream music with a tap using NFC. It’s not new, but the name doesn’t help much either: BlackBerry Music Gateway. If only RIM’s Aussie agency had been tasked with renaming that instead.
You want to accuse people of buying into something that costs hundreds or thousands of pounds over several years, you give them an alternative. Don’t tell them it’s coming later this year. Don’t tell them to wake up and expect them to go out and buy your uninspiring phones running a hugely out of date operating system without any apps.
Be humble. Be funny. But don’t lie: shoppers are too smart for that. We stopped buying Windows Mobile and Symbian phones for the right reasons: we bought into iPhone and Android because they were better.
I don’t think anyone can argue we’ve been unfair to RIM at Electricpig. We’ve highlighted the positives that RIM still has going for it. We’ve even given the maligned BlackBerry PlayBook a second chance. But my patience is gone now.
Nobody knows for sure if Nero really did play the fiddle while Rome burned: he may not have been there during the Great Fire, and anyway fiddles didn’t exist so go figure.
With that in mind, perhaps we should introduce a new phrase. Whenever somebody fritters away their time on trivial matters while the floor beneath them gives way, perhaps we should call it “hiring a reckless advertising agency to insult potential customers while your own shipments for the quarter decline 21 percent and you report a loss and the only solution to your woes is an operating system six months away with little to none of the developer support enjoyed by iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.”
But I don’t think that’d be as catchy. All I know is that it’s RIM who needs to wake up, not you and I.