Justin Bieber wanted to be BlackBerry’s brand ambassador

Justin Bieber

Bloomberg Businessweek has posted an oral history of BlackBerry’s rise and decline from former employees, vendors, and associates in advance of their cover story entitled ‘How BlackBerry Became a Relic’. The article features the retaliatory mudslinging that is common with such pieces, but there’s also a few anecdotes that seem revelatory in hindsight.

Take the below tale from a former senior business development manager, who shares how BlackBerry turned down an opportunity to have Justin Bieber as their brand ambassador.

One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, “Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,” basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the room. They said, “This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.” I said at the meeting: “This kid might outlive RIM.” Everyone laughed.

Instead of Bieber, now-former CEO Thorsten Heins introduced Alicia Keys as the company’s Creative Director during the BlackBerry 10 launch. The appointment hasn’t led to much of anything, and likely never will, following the ouster of Heins and CMO Frank Boulben, in addition to BlackBerry’s renewed commitment to enterprise customers.

It’s silly to think that one well-timed marketing partnership could have changed BlackBerry’s fortunes, no matter how dulcet and perfectly coiffed the ambassador. But it does speak to BlackBerry’s discomfort in the consumer space and inability to pick a winner. Bieber Fever is a real thing, and a mass throng of Beliebers demanding parents keep them BBM’ing on the Master’s platform of choice might have extended BlackBerry’s relevancy in the North American consumer space. But again, hindsight always seems revelatory.

  • M-Len

    Anyways…….you guys find out if that honda iphone tech runs on QNX yet?

    Or you going to just piggyback american protectionist Business week stories?

    • JB

      Mic dropped….

    • iPlunks

      Gps uses Nokia Maps

    • JB

      Mic dropped

    • TheFloppyBeaver

      A ton of car infotainment uses QNX, not just Honda (if they actually do).

  • ITCanWork

    And that’s why blackberry has the worst marketing team in the world. Beiber has legions of fans and is all over social media, where the F is Alicia keys? They deserve to fail after hearing that, and he only wanted 200k.

    • Plazmic Flame

      Absolutely blows my mind.

    • HeyYoWL

      See the best part in all this is that whether you like him or hate him, at least he was actually interested in using the phone and promoting it. Didn’t Alicia Keys get caught using her iPhone while promoting Blackberry?

    • Sweet

      Yep, she did. And she blamed it on someone else using her account.

    • HeyYoWL

      lol.. real classy. I also don’t get why they got someone who while talented, isn’t a popular current artist to promote it.

    • BB BB

      BieBerry Messenger

    • Jay

      I can’t stand Biebers music, but that comment made me chuckle :)

    • BB BB

      Isn’t that woman on fire?

    • MaX Damage

      I know, right? 200k is NOTHING for that kind of exposure.

    • Christopher Côté

      Yeah….but for BlackBerry, 200k is a year of sales loll

  • Mike

    I don’t know what the worse outcome would be: RIM fading away, or listening to “BieBerMe/BB” mania.

    • J. W.

      BB, BB, BB, ohhhhh…

  • Rich

    Eh, makes sense to turn him down… assuming management was intending to drive this company into the ground and collect their golden parachutes along the way.

  • John Hamilton

    I could see it though. All the teeny boppers asking mom and dad for a BB and them hearing all the fuss and wanting to see what it all about. Marketing by proxy.

  • sicsicpuppy

    Too bad ,this could have made the tweens rush for a Blackberry

  • TJE

    I’m not too sure if I missed it, but I don’t think this article covers exactly when Bieber approached them. If it was back when Bieber had his first song or two out, I can see why management wouldn’t want to be too involved, but if it was mid-2011 or later, this is just another depressing example of their incompetence–it’s not like $200,000 is a lot of money for the company. Alicia Keys is a talented performer, but she does not have the blind fandom like the Biebs does.

  • J. W.

    Even though Bieber would’ve changed the brand recognition of Blackberry as a more consumer brand rather than corporate, it probably would have kept Blackberry afloat.

  • Plazmic Flame

    It’s called changing and evolving. This is what companies need to do to survive. Do you think Ford could keep marketing cars the same way for their 100+ years of existence? No way. What did they do when they were on the brink of absolute bankruptcy? They redesigned the cars to look cool and started to market towards young people. BlackBerry, lol what a joke.

  • thedosbox

    LOL – never thought I’d see a picture of Bieber on this site. How much pressure have your daughters been putting you under?

  • Columbo

    I’m not sure if Biebs would have been such a good idea. It would just give BlackBerry haters another reason to hate.

    • TheFloppyBeaver

      Hate all they want, the goal is to sell phones right?

  • TouchMyBox

    They certainly dodged a bullet with that one.

  • Dave

    Bieber is getting a lot of bad media exposure. He is just a drunk and disorderly away from going Lohan. I switched fro iPhone to a Z30 because of the new BB 10. I can tell you Justin Bieber, or any other celebrity for that matter, would not have factored into my decision process.

  • Mike

    would have saved the company.

    who’s alicia keys?

  • T-Dawg

    Wow… Turned down a $200,000 offer from Justin Beiber? That’s like 400 Z10′s… Surely he would have sold more than 400 phones worth. Fail.

  • rd0t

    Not that it would have mattered. Much like Alicia Keys, Bieber wouldn’t have done anything.

  • BB BB

    All the beliebers would have bought a BB if he was the Ghandu ambassador

  • Gerhardt

    baby baby bababy…………………

  • Pigs Can Fly

    Looks like I’m not the only one that hates him (as a Canadian). He looked like a complete douchebag when he met up with PM Harper too.

  • Crow

    I wonder how many 13 year old girl are on the site right now..

  • steven_bauman_7

    Wow awful decision. Not a huge fan of him, but man having that guy using a blackberry would have all the kids wanting blackberries again.

  • Mike

    True.. I hope they don’t fade away. Bieber could fade away from the public eye and I wouldn’t mind ;-)

  • Nosorry


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