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What BlackBerry did right

Alicia Keys will be parting ways with BlackBerry at the end of the month, after just one year as Global Creative Director. Her departure is being widely interpreted as yet another sign of trouble at BlackBerry, following a less-than-stellar 2013. Sales of the new BlackBerry 10 devices fell short of projections, and so the company is changing direction, focusing on business and government customers over the public.

During her brief tenure as Creative Director, Alicia Keys headed the BlackBerry Scholars Program panel, which offers scholarships to young women pursuing degrees in technology, engineering and science. She was also heavily involved in Keep Moving, a creative crowdsourcing campaign which brought together artists in every medium across a series of special projects.

It was probably already too late at this point for BlackBerry to salvage its reputation among consumers, regardless of the Keep Moving project and Keys’ involvement. But while there are plenty of blogs overflowing with details of the many missteps that brought BlackBerry here, I’d like to stop and take a look at some of the individual merits of the Keep Moving campaign.

Set The World On Fire

First of all, securing an international star like Keys was a coup in itself. Keys reached out to fans who were planning to come and see her perform on her Girl On Fire tour, and invited them to submit photos of themselves and their hometown. This content was then collated into a series of unique videos dedicated to each of the cities that the tour was visiting, which were then played as part of Keys’ live shows, creating an engaging and personalised experience for fans at each location.

Two Scoops

Robert Rodriguez, the director behind the cult classic From Dusk Till Dawn and the commercially successful Spy Kids franchise, made a short film in conjunction with fans all over the world. The result is Two Scoops, which includes acting and art from complete novices. Rodriguez made his name with El Mariachi, the $7K production which spawned two sequels and proved that limited budget and resources are no obstacle for creativity; something Rodriguez reiterates in his ’10 Minute Film School’.

A Calendar of Tales

And finally, BlackBerry got one of the most imaginative men on the planet on board; Neil Gaiman, the creator of the globally beloved Sandman comic, and author of bestsellers Coraline and Stardust. Gaiman mobilised his almost two million Twitter followers to create A Calendar of Tales, a collection of twelve stories told and illustrated collaboratively.

Had the circumstances been different, had Keep Moving been the brainchild of a less troubled brand, who knows – it could have worked wonders. Personally, I’m glad Gaiman aligned himself with the BlackBerry brand, as it’s the closest thing the smartphone world has to an outsider. If he’d become a shill for Apple, or even Samsung, I don’t think I’d have ever looked at him the same.

View each Keep Moving project in full here.

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