Paul Kalbfleisch, vp-brand marketing at Research in Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, wowed attendees at the Summit with a keynote address on “authentic” brand experiences, musicians and how each can benefit the other as the lines blur between brands and the cultural icons of our age.
“As the entertainment and marketing industries are changing and merging, we will become a distributor of content as legitimate as NBC or a movie house,” he said. “It will happen on our mobile devices.”
BlackBerry’s music connection, part of a strategy to connect with younger consumers, is leading it in this direction. It sponsored tours for Madonna and John Mayer, then U2’s mammoth 360 tour, the largest tour in musical history, encompassing 44 shows in three countries and 3.5 million attendees. It also sponsors the current Black Eyed Peas tour.
Although a concert venue may seem like a strange environment to promote a business tool, the connection works because of values such as optimism and big thinking that BlackBerry shares with the artists, Kalbfleisch said. That authenticity has paved the way for new opportunities for the brand in terms of entertainment, social media and content creation.
An example: A song U2 gave the brand to use in an ad. “I rearranged the song so it told a message of optimism to a younger generation,” Kalbfleisch said. “Everyone liked it, and felt good about both brands.”
Another: BlackBerry’s Black Eyed Peas tour sponsorship, where attendees send Will.i.Am BlackBerry messages that become an integral part of the show.