The Blackberry Z10 makes its debut in Canada today. Good thing Blackberry ran a Super Bowl ad in Canada and the United States to promote the new phone that the industry has been waiting a long time to get.
What's that? You can't get the phone in the United States until March? Oh well, come to Canada for the Twinkies and pick up a phone to boot.
The Super Bowl ad did come with the disclaimer "Coming soon to select US carriers" so Americans interested in the phone knew they would have to wait.
The ad showed a guy on fire, then he developed elephant legs, and the final included rubber duckies. These were things that Blackberry Z10 couldn't do. Apparently "in 30 seconds it's quicker to show you what it can't do."
Except the Samsung Galaxy SIII can transmit playlists between phones. That was explained in 30 seconds. I still remember that. Effective commercial.
What did I learn about the Blackberry 10 from the Super Bowl ad? A phone that has taken forever to come out won't be out yet and I don't know what it does and why I should buy it.
Standing out in Super Bowl ad land is difficult under normal circumstances. Normally, having a goat in your commercial is a big deal. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Doritos ad with the goat was funny, but other ads gravitated toward the top of the crop.
Blackberry would argue that getting the name out is necessary to a new audience to help save the company. And that the ad, which will likely play over the next few months, will be memorable enough to generate buzz. Good luck if that's true. At some point, the consumers will need to know what the phone can do — and be able to buy the phone.
Blackberry also suffered from bad timing. The ad ran in the 3rd quarter during the time of the blackout. If people gave up on the game for awhile, or tuned to the Puppy Bowl or Downton Abbey, then Blackberry lost potential viewers. (Full disclosure: my day job ran a Super Bowl ad.)
The good news for Blackberry is that the ad wasn't bad for its vagueness, and wasn't even the worst smartphone ad. Samsung used Seth Rogen (Canadian), Paul Rudd, and Bob Odenkirk in one of the most rambling ads seen in years. The Samsung ad didn't tell us anything but at least the Blackberry ad was entertaining.
Blackberry had a difficult task in a Super Bowl ad. Companies that advertise a lot and year round do better with Super Bowl ads than newcomers and those companies trying to reestablish themselves. And Blackberry's problems are worse than having a OK Super Bowl ad.
Super Bowl ads greatly benefit from subsequent airings, so we should see the ad played numerous times in the next few weeks, especially until the phone is available in the United States.
However, at some point, Blackberry had to tell consumers why they should buy the Blackberry Z10 or the Q10. That will require a new ad. The company could have used that 30 second buy for that purpose. Maybe the new ad will run closer to the U.S. launch.
By then, the Super Bowl ad will be a distant memory, a bad sign for a company trying to become relevant in the marketplace.