Research In Motion (RIM)’s smartphone brand BlackBerry has doubled its marketing spends in India from last year. The handset major has had a spate of launches in 2011 – Style 9670 in April, the BlackBerry PlayBook in June, the Bold 9900 in August, Curve 9360 and Torch 9810/9860 in September. After a four-ad campaign titled ‘Are you missing something without BBM’ created by Orchard Advertising to promote the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) in April, their new creative agency BBDO India has come out with the TVC - ‘Welcome to the BlackBerry family’.
Krishnadeep Baruah, Director Marketing India, Research In Motion (RIM), remarked, “We have been in India for around seven years now. Initially, BlackBerry focused on the enterprise segment and mid-senior level executives. But, we realised the huge growth and potential of the consumer segment. So, with the ‘BlackBerry Boys’ campaign, we sought to reposition our brand for a younger audience – a smart, intelligent, connected generation. BlackBerry was a product not just for the office guys but a really good consumer device as well. This helped us consolidate our position in the market.”
As per the recent survey by Voice&Data, BlackBerry stands at the No.4 position in the India market after Nokia, Samsung, and Micromax. From 2009-10 to 2010-11, its revenues have seen the highest jump of 61.2 per cent, with a market share of 5.9 per cent. “We are basically a technology company. With people looking for newer versions of phones and the average lifetime of a product getting shorter, we have come out with a series of new smartphones over the last 6-8 months. We have a good mix of enterprise as well as consumer features. Also, Brand BlackBerry is aspirational; anyone who is smart, wants information at his fingertips, and stays connected wants a BlackBerry,” Baruah pointed out.
RIM has staggered products over the last few months - from the end of August till October-end. On an average, it has launched a new product every ten days. Baruah elaborated, “India is a strategic market for us. Over the last 18 months, we have come up with new campaigns every 2-3 months to promote the launch of new products. A TV campaign is crucial for us since it ensures visibility, awareness of our product, and brand recall. It takes our proposition and brand to a wider audience. With new products, we will come out with new campaigns. We have some new products launches that will happen this calendar year.”
New campaign for 7 OS
BlackBerry unveiled its new campaign last week to promote the launch of the 7 OS (operating system) with the tagline ‘Welcome to the BlackBerry Family’. The ad features four recently launched BlackBerry Smartphones on the 7 OS. Baruah shared, “At present, the company has three franchises – the Bold series, the Torch series, and the Curve series. The Bold 9900, launched in September end, was the first to come forth with the 7 OS. The two new phones in the Torch series – Torch 9860 and Torch 9810 as well as the new Curve 9360 operate on the 7 OS. The older phones will continue to operate on the 6 OS, which is also quite popular.” Only one TVC has been produced for the campaign and the same will run for four weeks till October end.
The handset maker is also advertising through print, OOH, and in airports. “Our distribution network currently covers 80 towns and cities across India. For the new campaign, we have focused on 38-40 markets categorised as ‘A’-category and emerging markets. We have created awareness through a print campaign over the last 4-5 weeks. We are also using the OOH medium through hoardings in these markets to promote the new smartphones on 7 OS. In Delhi and Mumbai, we have also displayed our ads at the airports as a large percentage of the population passes through these two airports over an average 30-day period,” Baruah further said.
The creative agency BBDO India has executed the recent ‘BlackBerry family’ ad and has also designed ads for release in print media. Varun Mehta, Special Creative Director, BBDO India, divulged, “We had to come up with creative solutions for their new products. One way of doing it is just to do hardcore product advertising, which is to showcase all the products and tell consumers that these products are out in the market and you buy them. The other way to do it is to take it down a slightly thematic bend, with some emotions injected into it, and it’s not just a cold message; we thoughtof wrapping it around something like that. Moreover, in India, especially, BlackBerry is really popular and the brand enjoys some serious loyalty here; there is a sense of community. So, we came up with the idea of doing something around this.” The agency is giving finishing touches to the ads for the four new phones, which will be released in print media shortly. The earlier TVC for the Bold 9900 was designed by the global agency AMV BBDO.
The brand is also active on the digital platform with frequent updates on their BlackBerry India Facebook page and advertisements on various websites. Talking about their digital presence, Baruah said, “The BlackBerry user is inherently a data user/ consumer, who is present on the web. This makes digital a very important medium for us. We will continue to create awareness about new products and services through digital banner ads and through social media. For the present campaign, we have taken up banner ads in 10-12 key sites. We also regularly provide updates on our Facebook page, which has close to a million fans, about new products and services. A large part of our communication takes place here. Another of our initiatives was launched during April-June. We created a site where BlackBerry users could share their BBM pin and pick up any merchandise. As per the pin provided, we scanned the barcode, imprinted it on their merchandise, and shipped it to them.”
A consumer survey by RIM revealed that over the next 6-10 months, youngsters in the age group of 15-25 years will become the major users of smartphones. To cater to this segment, the recent BlackBerry campaigns are targeted towards younger audiences. Baruah explained, “A large chunk of the BBM user base is driven by younger users. The average age of a BlackBerry user is 13-15 years, so much of our communication is targeted towards younger users. We have also come out with affordable data service plans and pre-paid plans for the entry level segment. The shift of focus from 12-15 cities two years back to 80 cities and towns over the last 12 months, a product range catering to a wide segment of age groups, and new products in the enterprise space are all set to ensure a good market growth for the brand.”
On being asked whether the entry of lower priced Android phones would affect their market share, Baruah affirmed, “There is a certain value attached to the way you interface and people are ready to pay at that price point. Moreover, we have also been able to grow so well because we have phones in a wide price range – from Rs 9,000-35,000. Due to this, we are able to address a wide segment of potential BlackBerry users. It bodes well for us if more mobile users enter the smartphone family. Once people start using smartphones, it is invariable that over a period of time, they will look for devices that offer them a good experience.”
RIM was in the news last week for service outages that lasted around four days, leaving many users disgruntled. RIM’s President and co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis, himself admitted, “Since founding RIM in 1999, it has been my goal to provide reliable, real-time communication across the world. We did not deliver on that goal this week, not even close.” The brand, which became popular mainly due to its BlackBerry Messenger service and email on-the-go, failed to deliver on both these counts. However, RIM posted updates every few hours on their website for customers, which were also posted on their BlackBerry India Facebook page. A YouTube video by Mike Lazaridis and also a conference call held last Thursday saw explanations and apologies for the outage due to a hardware malfunction. By Friday morning, an update on the page said that full service had been restored.