If you're leading a company that's struggling to keep its head above water, you'd take all the help you can get, especially if a big name star came to you offering his services, right? Wrong. If you're BlackBerry.
A new article in Bloomberg Businessweek features an oral history of the big Canadian smartphone maker, and one interesting detail sticks out, and makes us wonder if BlackBerry screwed themselves over by not enlisting the help of a fellow Canadian. Vincent Washington, BlackBerry's senior business development manager for a decade until 2011, talks about the company's would-be partnership with Justin Bieber.
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.
Whoops. As must as Bieber is sometimes hated, is sometimes liked, having him on your side would not have hurt in the least bit. Hey, it would have worked out a hell of a lot better than it did with Alicia Keys. The dude loves taking selfies on the reg, and even having a #BlackBerry hashtag popped in with half of them would have done the company some good, marketing wise. It's not too late for BlackBerry, though, Its BBM app is doing quite well, and it seems like they got some fight left in them yet. Bieber, or no Bieber.