After all the hype, RIM's 'Wake Up' campaign fizzles out

The Wake Up site has been updated with a speech that aims at getting enterprise customers to use the same old BlackBerry they've been using for years.

Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

commentary Research In Motion is in need of a drastic change. But its most recent viral-marketing campaign, "Wake Up," hasn't exactly helped it achieve that goal.

The company has updated its "Wake Up" Web page with a short speech telling the corporate world that it should wake up and realize that "it's time to mean business."

"Now before you go looking for your suit and briefcase, we're not talking about that kind of business," a narrator is heard saying as the text scrolls up the page. "Business is no longer just a suit-wearing, cubicle sitting, card-carrying kind of pursuit."

The narrator then goes on take a shot at Apple, telling business users: "don't just think different; you do different." The video ends with the narrator telling viewers to "Wake up. Be Bold."

RIM's Wake Up campaign cropped up in Australia late last month and gained some notoriety after buses of people wearing black shirts with "Wake Up" on them fake-protested outside of an Apple store. Soon after, RIM, which was ostensibly trying to fly under the radar with the campaign, admitted it was behind the marketing attempt.

"We can confirm that the Australian 'Wake Up' campaign, which involves a series of experiential activities taking place across Sydney and Melbourne, was created by RIM Australia," the company told CNET last month. "A reveal will take place on 7 May that will aim to provoke conversation on what 'being in business' means to Australians."

Now that the "reveal" has taken place, it's hard to see how it will push RIM's agenda forward. The company attempted in the video to make customers think differently and "be bold," but those are the very things RIM itself has been unable to do. While Apple, Samsung, and countless other companies deliver advanced, touch-screen devices, RIM is stuck in the past with devices featuring small displays, physical keyboards, and an outdated operating system. And the core market segment it's trying to attract -- the enterprise -- is even starting to turn its back on the company.

During its last-reported period, the fiscal fourth quarter, RIM saw smartphone shipments fall nearly 80 percent to 11.1 million. That helped push the company to a $125 million loss, and forced its CEO Thorsten Heins to acknowledge that "substantial change is what we need."

But even with that and the constant acknowledgement that change must come, RIM's "Wake Up" campaign is just more of the same: ineffective marketing that's only exacerbating the company's struggles.

Looking ahead, BlackBerry 10 and devices running that operating system could decide its fate. By nearly all accounts, BlackBerry 10 looks to be a solid jump over its current offering, and will leverage touch screens the way today's mobile operating systems should. According to a forum posting on Crackberry yesterday, RIM is also expected to install a video editor and screen-sharing features into the platform when it launches later this year.

But even with all of the hype and excitement surrounding that platform, it can be eliminated quickly without the right marketing strategy. RIM needs to realize that and think long and hard about how it positions itself with would-be customers.

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