Christoph Becker, CEO of gyro, called his task of re-launching
the brand "any advertiser's dream." The campaign, dubbed "Work
Wide," leans on the Passport's broad screen -- built for business
functions like reading email and spreadsheets -- and the
declaration the device is more secure than other smartphones. "If
you're not doing serious business, then you can take any other
phone," Mr. Becker said.
Still, Mr. Becker noted the pitch isn't aimed at replacing
consumer's smartphones; they can still have an iPhone for play and
a BlackBerry for work. That keeps the company out of the pitched
battle in the category between Apple, Samsung and leaner competitors. "That war is
not on their doorstep," Mr. Becker said.
With Passport's debut, BlackBerry saw a welcome boost,
announcing that it sold 200,000 devices in the first week. Its
most recent quarterly earnings beat estimates. And some analysts
see a brighter future for the firm with its software and services,
which accounted for 54% of its revenue last quarter. Conversely,
Apple generated 88% of its revenue from hardware.
Others are less optimistic. Jean-Louis Gassée, a venture
capitalist (and former Apple executive), wrote
that "[Mr.] Chen's endgame is to sell the company, either whole or,
more likely, in parts."
Remaking BlackBerry is a mammoth task. It is still widely
perceived as outdated. And bring-your-own-device improvements have
made companies more comfortable with employees using personal
smartphones. In July,
Apple announced a partnership with IBM to build apps tailored
to enterprise, a huge blow to BlackBerry.
"Apple felt that they had an inefficiency in their enterprise
story," Mr. Glen said. "It reinforces our story that enterprise is
a great market to be in."
BlackBerry spent $95 million in measured media last year,
according to figures from Kantar Media. In 2010, the year Apple
hurdled the company in smartphone shipments, per IDC, Blackberry (then R.I.M.) spent $161 million
in measured media.
A portion of BlackBerry's 2013 spending went to expenses related
to Alicia Keys, the singer who was named global creative director
for the company. Ms. Keys is no longer with BlackBerry, Mr. Glen
said. Instead, the company is relying on testimonials from
dedicated celebrity users, like Formula One racer Nico Roseberg and
media titan Arianna Huffington.
"This is not only about launching a brand; this all about
bringing an entire company back," said Mr. Becker. "Who doesn't
like a good comeback?"