A few weeks ago, I took a look at three women-focused ad campaigns from major tech companies, and noted that BlackBerry had announced that they would soon be kicking off a new ad campaign meant to target women, and working moms specifically. Now, BlackBerry has launched its first two videos in conjunction with the Creative Director of the new campaign, well-known musical artist Alicia Keys. Let’s take a look at how this ad stands up to my previous recommendations about creating ad campaigns that target women.
BlackBerry’s New Campaign
Thorsten Heins, the CEO of BlackBerry, announced in January that the promotional campaign for the new BlackBerry 10 smartphone would seek to counter BlackBerry’s image as super-masculine and business-oriented with a highly creative, woman-focused campaign. Their first move in this direction? Enlisting Alicia Keys as BlackBerry’s “global creative director.” In addition to being the face of the BlackBerry 10 campaign, Keys would create a number of videos that feature her latest tour, as well as her BlackBerry 10.
Alicia Key’s video series, called “Your City, Your Video, by Alicia Keys & You,” is part of a larger “Keep Moving” campaign that will feature all types of artists using their BlackBerry phones in creative ways. Let’s check out Keys’ first two videos:
These videos are not at all what I was expecting, in the wake of BlackBerry’s announcement that they’d be featuring working moms!
A Subtle Approach to Woman-Focused Marketing
So, let’s take a closer look. Both of these videos serve as a preamble to the BlackBerry campaign as a whole, which will focus on Keys’ journey and interactions with fans in the various cities on her upcoming tour. And they are not at all traditional woman-focused ads.
There is no pink imagery in these videos, and Keys is never shown in a domestic environment. The efforts to attract the attention of women and show that the BlackBerry 10 isn’t just for men in offices are far subtler than that. In both videos, there is a strong call to emotion, with Keys vividly describing her relationships with traveling, making music, and pushing herself to learn through potentially uncomfortable experiences, as well as her desire to constantly create connections. This serves to add a social and emotional component to BlackBerry, and I think Keys does this very successfully.
I was also very interested to see that both videos feature more male “characters” than female ones, from individuals representing the diversity of New York to Keys’ offstage crew. While this may be reaching just a little bit, I think it’s very possible to interpret this imagery as a representation of the experience of being a woman in a male-dominated field. Keys talks about being a “driver” and taking full responsibility and initiative in her work, presenting an image of a successful female artist and businesswoman making her way in her career with passion and confidence.
Finally, while Keys doesn’t explicitly talk about balancing family with her career, she is shown doing it. She appears spending time with her son on an airplane, and he can be seen in the background in a number of shots where Keys is recording or performing.
BlackBerry’s campaign is clearly taking on woman-focused advertising in the subtlest of ways, and I personally see that as a great stride in this field.
Some More Concrete Analysis
All of that is certainly interesting, but I’d like to take a moment and compare the BlackBerry 10 campaign with some of the tips I compiled from the Jack Morton and Outdoor Industry Foundation guides regarding marketing towards women. Will this campaign really live up to the necessities that come with targeting a female demographic?
- The BlackBerry10 campaign definitely brings in a strong user-generated content component. While not featured in the two introductory videos, later stages of the campaign will call on fans to submit photos of themselves to be played in a slideshow while Keys performs onstage.
- Keys’ videos focus on building relationships content-wise, but beyond the user-generated content aspect, BlackBerry doesn’t really seem to be taking many steps towards asking women what is important to them or otherwise involving them in the marketing or design processes.
- The Keep Moving campaign is designed to be more about creating a brand image and experience, so it provides close to zero real information about the product.
- For the same reason, the campaign provides little insight into BlackBerry’s business processes. While there’s a lot of insight into Keys’ creative process, viewers don’t learn very much about the company itself.
- The campaign does do an excellent job of showing women, or at least a woman, fulfilling multiple roles. Keys is seen as an artist, a mother, a social being, and someone who is constantly learning and adapting.
In this regard, two out of five seems like it isn’t much, but I think the Keep Moving campaign will definitely succeed in helping BlackBerry to reinvigorate its image. Likewise, I think Keys’ videos offer a very current and relevant perspective on woman-focused advertising, by showing Keys fulfilling a variety of roles and demonstrating that women can be extremely successful in their careers. I’m excited to see what the rest of BlackBerry’s woman-focused campaign will bring to the table.
What do you think of Alicia Keys’ BlackBerry 10 videos?