01/31/2012 01:08 EST

Research In Motion's #BeBold Campaign: Will These Superheroes Save The Day?


If Research In Motion can't turn around its flailing smartphone business, the company may yet have a future producing Saturday morning cartoons.

RIM launched its #BeBold Twitter marketing campaign on New Year’s Eve with the goal of beginning a long process of reshaping its public image -- a goal stressed by the company’s new CEO, Thorsten Heins.

But the results of that campaign -- four candy-coloured superhero characters named Gogo Girl, The Adventurer, The Advocate and the Authentic -- are being met with plenty of derision from consumers ready to declare the company’s latest marketing move to be its latest failure.

The characters were meant to represent the four “types” of BlackBerry users, apparently in an attempt by RIM to create a more closely-knit community with its users. But reaction to the new BlackBerry icons was swift and largely brutal.

“The only humans dumb enough to want blackberries are probably the elementary school children the #BeBold ad attracts. Secretly genius?” asked Twitter user SixThree Six.

“#BeBold and market a SERIOUS BUSINESS PRODUCT with cartoons. AMATEUR HOUR IS OVER,” Tweeted InstantSunrise.

The critical tweets are a sign the company’s latest effort to spark anew the “Crackberry” addiction that made RIM a global giant is likely to go nowhere.

The company is showing signs of backtracking on its new approach, posting a comment on its blog declaring that the superhero characters are “a bit of fun” and aren’t intended to be a new ad campaign.

Taking the reins at RIM last week, CEO Theorsten Heins declared that a new marketing strategy -- as well as hiring a new chief marketing officer -- is central to the company’s plans to turn around its flagging sales and market-share numbers.

That approach was criticized by some, who noted that the strategy is little different from the one outlined by outgoing co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis last year.

The negative reaction to the #BeBold campaign could prove to be a problem for RIM in the coming year. In a memo obtained by the Globe and Mail, Heins declared that the #BeBold campaign will play “an important role for all of us” in 2012.

“Moving into this year, we’ll continue to anchor new advertising, digital and social media messaging on this compelling theme of Be Bold,” Mr. Heins reportedly wrote in the memo circulated the week of Jan.22. “In fact, next week we will launch a TV campaign that features real-life BlackBerry users sharing their stories of action.”

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