BlackBerry to "takeover" Droids and iPhones with unique marketing initiative

Smartphone manufacturers have been known to go all out when promoting their products, but BlackBerry is about to up the ante by "hijacking" the screens...

Smartphone manufacturers have been known to go all out when promoting their products, but BlackBerry is about to up the ante by "hijacking" the screens of iPhones and Android phones. The Canadian smartphone pioneer, which is looking to make a big comeback with the new BlackBerry Z10, will be getting into what chief marketing officer Frank Boulben describes as “real-time marketing.

Going beyond TV spots, print ads and all the traditional channels of promotion, Boulben and his team have worked with ad agency BBDO and several digital agencies from the Publicis group on a more aggressive marketing move. Forbes reports that the new initiative is built largely around several versions of a tactic known as "takeover".

A takeover fills your browser with an ad designed to resemble the Hub feature on the BB10 OS. Users can interact with the ad and get a feel of the new OS running on the BlackBerry Z10. But it’s not restricted to only basic interaction—the NYT takeover, for instance, will highlight how BB10 pulls in content from various social networks and RSS feeds to show the viewer content from the different sections on the NYT site’s feeds, the paper’s Facebook page and official tweets.

Users can also get a personalised demo of the OS on the Z10 website. When permitted to access the user’s data, the demo will pull in your social shares and Facebook contacts to give them a walkthrough of BB10’s features.

Android and iPhone users will also see a form of takeover, starting today. The mobile version of the takeover will fill an iPhone or Android phone’s screen with an ad that is a spitting replica of the BlackBerry 10 UI. These takeovers will demo a specific feature of BB10 like the Time Shift camera, which allows you to choose from among several captured options to get the right expression on any face in a picture.

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What the BlackBerry takeover could look like on an iPhone


Takeovers were first seen in the United Kingdom, when BlackBerry advertised on The Guardian website. The new takeovers to hit the US will play on the New York Times website. “I think these are a world first,” Boulben says.


Another tactic that BlackBerry is trying is a keyboard challenge. Launching later this quarter, the challenge involves users scanning a QR code on ads and then pitting their phone’s keyboard against the one on the Z10. Supposedly, it shows up the other keyboards' drawbacks in comparison to BB 10's new soft keyboard.

Boulben said that highlighting features of the new OS is a step towards winning back some of the customers who left the brand when it fell behind Android and iOS in the smartphone race. “The device is productivity oriented, but at the same time it’s a cool one because of some edgy features like Time Shift,” he says.

Boulben said that the users experiencing the mobile takeover in the UK spent an average of 4.2 minutes engaging it, which is a long time in comparison to other marketing strategies. The company is hoping that iPhone and Android users in the US too will be swayed by what they see on the ‘takeover’ ad. “I expect [buyers coming from other platforms] to be a substantial minority of sales in every market and I don’t see why the US would be any different,” Boulben said.

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