BUSINESS

BlackBerry Rejected Justin Bieber As Brand Ambassador: Exec

12/06/2013 12:57 EST

Add another to the growing list of BlackBerry’s bad decisions.

Pop sensation Justin Bieber offered to be a brand ambassador for BlackBerry, but the company turned him down because “the kid is a fad,” a former company exec told Bloomberg.

Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,” Bieber told the company, as recalled by Vincent Washington, who served as senior business development manager from 2001 to 2011 at the company then known as RIM.

“We pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that,” Washington said.

“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.”

But they may not be laughing now.

BlackBerry lost nearly $1 billion in the second quarter, and announced layoffs amounting to some 40 per cent of its workforce. It then announced a possible $4.7-billion buyout of the company by Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial, a deal that fell apart when Fairfax was unable to raise the funds for the takeover.

Since then, CEO Thorsten Heins and several other top execs have been shown the door. Incoming CEO John Chen has been cheerleading for the company publicly, but has not said much about the direction in which he plans to take the company.

The singing superstar that BlackBerry did hire as its brand ambassador — Alicia Keys — hasn’t been able to do much to engage new customers.

The company has been losing market share to iPhone and Android devices for at least three years, and a recent survey found its market share in China and Spain is now so low that it was recorded as zero.

But there’s still one (sort of) bright spot for the company’s public image: President Barack Obama will continue to use the BlackBerry, Reuters reported earlier this week.

But it might not be because the president is a fan: Apparently, he is not allowed to have an iPhone for “security reasons.”

Not exactly the ringing endorsement BlackBerry may have hoped for; but on the other hand, it does highlight BlackBerry’s superiority when it comes to security. The company’s network is reportedly one of the few that can’t be hacked by the NSA.

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