New York—Frank Boulben, CMO at telecommunications and wireless company BlackBerry, was recognized Wednesday by the Business Marketing Association of New York City as its Communicator of the Year, in recognition of his work to refocus the brand and turn around its smartphone business.
BlackBerry's CMO since June 2012, Boulben has worked to reposition the company, formerly known as Research in Motion, as the purveyor of phones for the “productivity user,” and spearheaded the rollout of ads in support of the company's new Z lineup of smartphones with touch interfaces.
“It all started with our culture and establishing clearly our vision and mission,” Boulben said. He said the company's value proposition is summed up now by the acronym BOLD, standing for brave, open, lean and dependable. “We had an iconic brand, but it was getting diluted,” he said. “We put the BlackBerry brand back at the center and renamed the company.”
Boulben also has worked to centralize the marketing function—marketing was previously handled by separate international regions and messages were becoming increasingly fragmented, he said—and added the Net Promoter score as a gauge of customer satisfaction.
The company's new Z10 smartphone with a touch interface was introduced this year with a “Keep Moving” campaign, kicked off with a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl in February. A more advanced Z30 model was introduced Wednesday. The company also announced Wednesday that its popular BBM messaging system is now available for Android and Apple phones.
Agencies working on the BlackBerry campaigns have included Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for creative and brand efforts; Publicis Groupe for digital efforts; Proximity for customer relationship marketing; Publicis' Phonevalley for mobile initiatives; Brodeur Partners for public relations; and Edelman for social media.
“Everything was about showing what the new device could do, instead of just telling,” Boulben said. “That included a seeding program, giving Fortune 500 CEOs new BlackBerry devices and providing demos for them, so they could see for themselves the new features.”
BMA New York's Communicator of the Year award, now in its 51st year, is presented in recognition of outstanding b-to-b marketing communications.