RIM's Top Digital Marketer Defects to Samsung Mobile

BlackBerry Manufacturer Loses Exec a Day After Reporting Dismal Earnings

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BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion is losing another marketer, Brian Wallace, a day after reporting dismal earnings and impending layoffs.

Brian Wallace spoke at Ad Age 's 2010 Digital Conference.
Brian Wallace spoke at Ad Age 's 2010 Digital Conference. Credit: Gary He

Mr. Wallace, RIM's top digital marketer, is defecting to Samsung Mobile, where he'll be VP-strategic marketing for the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter. While Mr. Wallace oversaw all things digital at RIM as VP-digital marketing and media, his new role will also encompass offline media, creative and branding.

The move means handling marketing for a bigger manufacturer with, frankly, more momentum. Samsung is the No. 1 mobile handset manufacturer in the U.S. with more than 25% market share in April, according to ComScore. RIM is No. 5 and reported lower than expected quarterly sales and revenue yesterday.

Meanwhile, Samsung's telecom division contributed to revenue growth in the last reporting period. Samsung has now built a number of smartphones running Google's mobile software Android, the largest and fastest-growing smartphone platform in the U.S., a market where RIM's BlackBerry continues to bleed smartphone market share. Once the leader, RIM is now No. 3 and falling.

Mr. Wallace's departure follows chief marketer Keith Pardy, who resigned in March, weeks ahead of the launch of RIM's iPad competitor, Playbook. After that departure, co-CEO Jim Balsillie took on the CMO role.

"Challenges in the U.S. in particular are making near-term growth difficult," Mr. Balsillie said during RIM's earnings call yesterday.

Mr. Wallace spent nearly 11 years at the Canadian manufacturer and was responsible for building sizable audiences for the company on both Facebook and Twitter. He will be relocating to Samsung Mobile's U.S. outpost in Dallas.

Samsung's tablet Galaxy Tab, which also runs Android, is also faring better than the BlackBerry Playbook. (Both still lag Apple's iPad by far.) RIM shipped -- not sold -- 500,000 Playbooks last quarter.

Mr. Wallace has been a vocal proponent of distributing content across many devices, from mobile to TV to even cars or refrigerators. Samsung has released internet-connected TVs, though sales have not been stellar, and also manufactures computers, cameras and large appliances.

Samsung is a top 100 marketer by media spending globally, but not in the U.S. Across all its products, the company spent $158 million in U.S. measured media in 2009 -- that 's 22 % of global media spending, according to Ad Age Data Center. Like all handset manufacturers, Samsung does benefit from the U.S. carriers' ample marketing budgets.

In January, Research in Motion shifted ad agency duties to 72andSunny, which will handle its $200 million U.S. business, and to BBDO in global markets. However, RIM execs have characterized its last big launch for Playbook as not going according to plan.

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