Blackberry's irresponsible social advertising

Blackberry's irresponsible social advertising

Summary: A startlingly unhelpful TV commercial manages to both undermine Blackberry's enterprise credibility while apparently encouraging personal activities on company time


The above AT&T BBDO US TV spot for Blackberry Torch 4G smart phones, which I winced at during San Francisco 49ers NFL games last year, neatly encapsulates the fears many business managers have about their staff's digital 'social' interactions. A manager instructs staff to post baby videos, play fantasy football, participate in online games, check in on foursquare and listen to music on their new Blackberries before turning on his heel and leaving the office, to save you watching 30 seconds of video (which close to a million people have viewed on YouTube).

This AT&T messaging makes my work around effective use of modern collaborative tools inside businesses that much harder and demonstrates a lack of understanding- perhaps intentionally - of Blackberry's core business, which has historically been primarily secure email and voice communication in the enterprise.

RIM, the Blackberry manufacturer, continue to be excoriated in the financial press for lack of management focus, and it takes some doing in a red hot smart phone marketplace to run ads celebrating goofing off at work, ironically the achilles heel of these modern collaborative tools. I'm amazed they allowed AT&T to run this advertisement for their product.

Presumably AT&T's Bold smartphone ad is aimed at individuals and not the guys in unified communications and IT tasked with provisioning smart phones to the workforce. On all sorts of levels the TV spot demonstrates the tensions between our personal uses of technology (the 'smoking' break to check Facebook and catch up on personal business on company time) and the job you pay someone to do, supplying tools that are fit for purpose to work together more efficiently.

As we break through from puberty into the early adolescence of the socially networked world we will hopefully see an end to these types of uninformed and unhelpful pieces of mass communication messaging, which blunt the effectiveness of vendors attempting to shape and define more efficient business collaboration...

Topics: Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones


Oliver Marks leads the Global Digital Enterprise Team at HP, having previously provided seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on effective planning of business strategy, tactics, technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models that make best use of modern collaborative and social networking tools to achieve their business goals.

These are Oliver's views and not those of his employer HP.

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  • Are you joking?

    Every other review of this advert thinks it's bloody fantastic! Why the hate?
  • RE: Blackberry's irresponsible social advertising

    People will goof off at work. I'm posting this from work, as an example. Only those who take it to extremes are really disrupting the workplace. Those folks are generally also disrupting others as well. Having a commercial like that actually appeals to those who will be out buying blackberries on the consumer level. Then again, so do all the other smartphone commercials.
  • RE: Blackberry's irresponsible social advertising

    Some observations: The headline of the article is misleading when the article itself says, "The above AT&T BBDO US TV spot for Blackberry..." Um... this is an AT&T ad.

    Anything AT&T does to shoot themselves in the proverbial foot is just fine with me!
  • RE: Blackberry's irresponsible social advertising

    You are really reaching to trash BlackBerry, dude. But trash AT&T with my blessing.
  • RE: Blackberry's irresponsible social advertising

    I am not a BlackBerry fan, but this author's criticism is such, SUCH, a reach. This is likely an author trying to find his own special "look at me aren't I perceptive??" way to trash a down brand.

    RIM has done a thousand stupid things over the past 2 years, but this is not one of them. You, sir, are a tool.