Talking BlackBerry Super Bowl commercial and upcoming Keep Moving ad campaign w/ Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben

Talking to CMO Frank Boulben about BlackBerry's first-ever Super Bowl commercial!
By Kevin Michaluk on 3 Feb 2013 08:42 pm EST

Talking to Frank Boulben about BlackBerry's Super Bowl commercial via BBM Video Chat

As I hit publish on this article, approximately 111 million people have just witnessed BlackBerry's first ever Super Bowl commercial. Opinions will surely vary, but personally I feel it was a solid way for BlackBerry to introduce the BlackBerry Z10 to the U.S. market. Stepping beyond the standard product demo type of ad we'd normally expect from BlackBerry, the Super Bowl placement took a more playful and cinematic approach. That's never a bad thing for a Super Bowl audience that's looking to be entertained.

The timing of the Super Bowl commercial created a challenge for BlackBerry. BlackBerry's feature-focused Keep Moving marketing campaign will kick off in Canada tomorrow and roll out globally from there, but with the Z10 not available from carriers in the U.S. until March, the company decided to produce a distinct commercial outside of the Keep Moving theme specifically for the Super Bowl. 

5 hours before kick-off, I had the privilege to get an early look at BlackBerry's Super Bowl and Keep Moving ad spots and discuss them with BlackBerry's Chief Marketing Officer, Frank Boulben. Frank is in New Orleans to attend the Super Bowl in person (when you spend the big bucks on an ad the networks invite you), but in true BlackBerry fashion I brought him into CrackBerry HQ for the interview thanks to the power of BBM Video Chat. Between our two Z10's running on Rogers LTE and Verizon LTE, the video quality was spectacular.


Production Details 

Creative Agency: The BlackBerry 10 Super Bowl spot was created by AMV BBDO
Production: The commercial was shot on a back lot in Los Angeles over the course of three days, capturing as much in-camera content as possible. This includes the jack-knifing truck and puff of smoke. Special effects also played a large role, particularly in the elephant legs, flames and duckies scenes.
Direction: Peter Thwaites served as Director for the commercial
Music: "Who Knows" by Marion Black 


As BlackBerry went to work on producing their first-ever Super Bowl ad, they had two ojectives. The first was to signal that BlackBerry is back. While the messaging here was not overly aggressive (unlike this fake BlackBerry Super Bowl commercial), I think it successfully accomplished that mission. Heck, the fact that BlackBerry chose to do a Super Bowl commercial checks that objective off the list. Showing off the new Z10 takes care of the rest - clearly it's a new BlackBerry experience. If the American retail launch was a bit closer, maybe we would have seen a more agressive "Back in Black"-style ad. 

The second objective was to get across that the BlackBerry Z10 is worth checking out. Since the Super Bowl ad is showing you things the Z10 can't do, it creates a strong call to action to check out what the new phone can do. With no devices in store to direct customers to yet, the call to action at the end of the spot directs people to BlackBerry has done a great job with this website (especially when visiting from a desktop computer). It's not your typical product site detailing specs, but offers an experience-based walk through of the Z10, showing it in action in a variety of real world usage cases. 

I asked Frank about the decision to focus on the Z10 in the ad rather than focusing on the relaunch of the BlackBerry 10 platform, and Frank made it clear that was an easy decision. 30 seconds is not a lot of time to get a message across. People buy products, not platforms, so focusing on the new Z10 was key. Marketing BlackBerry 10 would not have the same ROI attached to it. 

Following the Super Bowl, BlackBerry will continue to focus in the U.S. on driving customers to the website. As the American release nears, you'll see things ramp up even more, but the BlackBerry Super Bowl commercial truly marks the beginning of BlackBerry's new ad campaigns around BlackBerry 10 and the Z10.

As for the cost of the new ad and the Super Bowl spot, Frank said that's not something BlackBerry is disclosing. Rest assured, it wasn't cheap.  

From commercial to getting a Z10 in your hands

I asked Frank what message I should pass on to all of our impatient U.S.-based CrackBerry readers who don't want to wait and just want to buy the Z10 right now. Frank was on the ball with an instant response - he joked that you can buy the Z10 right now on eBay for between $1000 and $2200!

Frank suggested that everybody be sure to pre-register for the Z10 with their carriers, and as the carriers shift from pre-registration to pre-ordering to be quick on the uptake there. That's the best guarantee for getting your Z10 as soon as possible. Frank empathized with our CrackBerry readers who don't want to wait a minute longer than they have to to get their hands on the Z10.


Following the Super Bowl commercial, tomorrow BlackBerry will kick off its new Keep Moving campaign. This is a global campaign spanning all forms off media - tv, print, online, billboards - and will initially start in Canada, head to Europe and expand from there.

Compared to the Super Bowl commercial, the Keep Moving ads will put more of a focus on the key features of BlackBerry 10, illustrating Flow as you use different features of the devices to move seamlessly from one facet of life to another. 

I also previewed the first full Keep Moving spot which clocked in at 60 seconds, but there will be 30-second and 20-second versions as well. The full spot focuses on all of the new major features in BlackBerry 10, like the touchscreen keyboard, TimeShift camera, Hub and BlackBerry Balance. The shorter versions will highlight fewer features. 

The Keep Moving ad I previewed follows a linear Flow from left to right with people doing LOTS of different things. Frank said the print and online ads would use similar imagery to the video spot.


BlackBerry has felt like a new company to me since the day Thorsten Heins took the reins as CEO. I'm sure that sentiment resonates not only with me, but also with the members of CrackBerry Nation.

With this week's official launch of BlackBerry 10, the Z10 hitting stores and now the Super Bowl commercial and ramp up of the Keep Moving campaign, the message that this is a new BlackBerry is going global.

Whether you love the Super Bowl ad or hate it, I'm really glad BlackBerry chose to do one. To many, BlackBerry was out of the smartphone game. Buying an ad at the Super Bowl is a symbolic gesture that says there back in the game, in a big way!  

Reader comments

Talking BlackBerry Super Bowl commercial and upcoming Keep Moving ad campaign w/ Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben


i agree with you.. the fake commercial at least seemed as if blackberry is evolving from it's old os to a new one.

i didn't care that the real one didn't show any features. but the major problem is that it also doesn't create a buzz..

i can't exactly go to my non-blackberry friends and say.. oh.. did you see that superbowl commerical.. because i would have nothing to say after that..

I agree, the fake one blew it out of the water... but then us nerds only.. non-nerds prob won't get it.. so a stuff like this leading them to was a start.

+1000 that fake commercial is not good for the public. It's nerdy and boring and only good for cb readers. People need to realize this. It wouldn't work out in the wild. It's too intense for nothing

Why waste that much money on something that isn't going to be available for a while. I think this ad was just to spark some interest in people who haven't heard of it yet...

BLACKBERRY....BLACK OUT....I'm just saying. We have to understand that just as in sports (Superbowl anyone?) when you're down big, you're not going to get it all back in one possession (30sec AD). You have to be patient and chip away at the lead slowly, by making good, sound plays. This commercial was a good, sound play.


It's still something you win over time. You don't throw in the towel, but you can't win the entire game off of one play.

Not your money so why should you care. Ad is cool, no need to be too obvious in advertising. I think it was funny, not overtechie.

Keep moving.

Why cant more people be this reasonable. Everyone needs to read this and understand that it was a good commercial, and a good move by BlackBerry, its just the start.

For anyone saying the non official one was better, IT WASNT 30 SECONDS....come on....

logged in with my facebook account... man,.... i'm amazed. my fb timeline is on the Z10.. lol... good way to catch my attention.

I definitely enjoyed that. Plus my face on the magazine at the end was pretty cool.
That was on the script writing version at least.

Great ad, Its the superbowl, it has to be entertaining, funny and cool. Check, check check. I watched it 5 times for the BB new marketing MO; not take itself so seriously and let the OS speak for itself...good moves.

I like Z10 commercial… and it made me anxious to see more.
But I must say I expected stronger statement from BlackBerry, especially here in United States.

This is a very very bad commercial, nobody would remember anything about blackberry after watching this, half of them don't even know this is a BlackBerry commercial because their attention were not on screen anymore in the last 3 seconds.

It's like the most creative way you can find to waste $3.4M and re-introducing BlackBerry to America. IMHO, if you just play the last 3 seconds 10 times over the 30 seconds period, it will create more impressions and discussion in US than this.

Or it's like a commercial made by a competitor for BlackBerry, through some conspiracy strategy to get BlackBerry buy-in into this idea. Yeah, that's how bad it is.

Kevin's article reads like a defence for the idea already because Kevin knew this idea needs to be defended. If it's really good, we all know how Kevin would react --- he would behave like a crazily hyped kid, do you smell any excitment?

Let's keep it really here shall we?

You're right. Kevin would've been like "That was the most F*$(#@* commercial ever!!!" instead it's a game of defense. I don't think the commercial was "bad" I just don't think it's compelling/memorable at all...which is the whole point of super bowl commercials.

Nice comments. Smart. You all know me so well.

Soo... I definitely wasn't trying to defend the commercial in this article. Just tried to recap the interview points I had with Frank.

I'll do a separate follow up post with my full out opinion on it in more detail...

general take though, i thought it was OK. they definitely didn't mess anything up badly. I was kind of worried based on the teaser photos it may be a really odd commercial. This was very much a Super Bowl commercial. Think they played it a bit safe though, and maybe needed more product focus. People sort of expect it on a product selling commercial. But i'll get more into that.

overall, i'd much rather they ran the commercial they did vs. not run a super bowl ad.  

This by no means was creative or smart. Smart marketing puts out a commercial that will have the media and people talking tomorrow which will allow for more publicity like the goat commercial or godaddy which has been shown for FREE on several media talk shows and news outlets here in the US. No one will be talking about the BB10 commercial tomorrow.

The fake one was much better. This was entertaining but kind of forgettable. There wasn't enough Blackberry being said. Too bad. I hope the Keep Moving ad campaign is more memorable than this. Cmon Frank - buy the fake one and air it. Make us all happy!

yeah it's only 1:45....BlackBerry should've have just dropped $14 million instead of $4 million...simple...easy....good suggestion

The fire was the waking of the Z10 , the elephant was the QNX powering up and the Truck was the task at hand !
A completed task in 30 seconds

The fake one suited the american market better because it has more drama while showing what it can do, this one to me feels more like a fancy artistic teaser ... And a very expensive one, maybe suited better for the european market, maybe.

Funny how so many have taken the time to stop and talk about a commercial that, "isn't worth talking about." O_o

If I didn't know what it was about I wouldn't have know it's was for blackberry. They should have had a bug or something throughout the commercial. The website is horrible on the playbook very choppy, also there was no selection for games and communication.

Great, I was trying to get my 70 year old dad to get himself into a blackberry from a home phone. After the commercial he's worried that the phone will explode and turn him into Joseph Merrick after breathing in the mutlicoloured fumes from the explosion.

Well played Blackberry, well played.

seems like your dad has issues telling the difference between special fx in an ad and reality, so he´ll definitely have no use for a BlackBerry.

keep real.

Couple of points: Super bowl commercial is mediocre at best. If you need to revitalise your brand, make it big. Americans love to root for the underdog - tell a comeback and people will buy into.

Fake superbowl ad was far more effective and it was made on a shoestring budget. BlackBerry should hire them seriously.

Positive note - the ad was good enough that no one will make fun of it, which could have been the worst case scenario.

I though it was a smart 30 sec spot with a bit of fun. It is exactly what it should be.

From a marketing perspective, the commercial itself is inconsequential. What's important is that BB did the commercial in the first place. Do you know how much free press BB got because of this move? It conveys to the public confidence in your product. The point is "perception". Perception is what BB has to change in the US market.

BB could have run a blank screen for 30 seconds, it didn't matter. The point was that everyone was talking about the new BB, 2 weeks prior to the super bowl commercial. Franks job was done before the commercial started. That is how modern marketing works.

The ad left me scratching my head. It's clever, but not in a way that makes you remember Blackberry. I hope they follow up with ads that get more to the point of what the phone CAN do. This one reminded me of the glowing bicycles, for all they did to Bold sales.

BlackBerry Z10? What is that ------> go to to check it out. It would be interesting to see if BB traffic spiked

Flame on! (get it?).

Whoever put that reference in the ad is subversively clever in my humble opinion.

Frank B:
"Hey America! There's a new BlackBerry comin' at ya! Visit our facebook page and "Flame on" in the comments".


Kevin: if you have Frank Boulben in your BBM contacts, tell him to enjoy his all-expenses paid trip and SuperBowl junket, to raid the mini-bar and to hit the LinkedIn page hard! He and most probably a great part of the Marketing Dept. it's going to get the blame on the Super Bowl TV advert debacle and need to get new jobs, pronto.

It's morning in Asia, the brass from Lenovo / HTC / ZTE or LG must be melting Heim's phone to see what discount can they get for an all cash offer for BlackBerry; He should take no less than 8 / 9 Billion. In my opinion, Lenovo it's the best fit for the biz-centric (reformed in 2014) LenoBerry or Blacknovo.... What a waste....

Come on Kevin, I can't even pull up the BlackBerry website on my PlayBook for the past two days and that is BS. Spoke with the company about that and they said nobody's perfect and that is BS too.


I just don't think it got anyone's attention who wasn't looking for it. And it's mixed with those who were. Not good.

Trees for the forest..... while most of us in BB land are familiar with peek and flow, hub, time shift camera. etc... the majority in the US think BB is either dead or about to go bankrupt.... to try to show off features most do not understand in 30 seconds would be a colosus waste of money.... the idea of the commercial is to show BB is still here,,, the follow up 60 sec BB will be running fills the bill for feature... as we see all the trees ( BB10 ) unforunately for BB they are currently obscured by the forrest...iwill it work... who knows....

Finally, someone logical. Thank you. It's all about changing perception. Too many people think that marketing is about beating someone else over the head with a product to make them buy it. It doesn't work.

The SB kickoff ad accomplished one thing it creates buzz, you love it or hate but you talk about. The follow up is what counts, however, if BBRY wants to play with the big boys and they direct me to the website to discover the all new Z10 the freaking website needs to work.


It's weird, but I cannot watch the other introductions on, I selected innovation and it got stuck in that mode. What if i want to watch "movies" instead?

LOL KEVIN KNOWS IT SUCKS. He just wants to maintain a good relationship with the company now known as BlackBerry. I'm a long time RIM fan. RIM shareholder and former RIM employee and even I think it sucked.

I agree +10, I'm BlackBerry to the END. Kevin needs to be up front and tell them straight up, that Marketing team needs to go. I am also a fan/shareholder/former employee. So this phone can give me elephants feet? Wow What was that "BlackBerry" please listen to the response from crack berry nation and DON'T take it to heart.

I'm a BlackBerry addict....but this commercial sucked!

Blackberry: We need a great superbowl that says blackberry is back!

Ad company: Great! How much time do we have?

Blackberry: 30 seconds

Ad company: Hmmm....don't think we can be creative enough to demonstrate features of this new product so let's talk about a bunch of nonsensical things it can't do!!!!

Blackberry: Yeah sounds good if you DON'T think about it! Let's do it!!!!

Ad company: Excellent. That will be $3-4 million dollars please. And we don't take stock options like you gave Alicia Keys.

[Seinfeld] Its a show about nothing!! [/Seinfeld]

Amazing move to make the whole point of the ad not showing anything the phone can do.

Shame on u Kevin lol... The fake one was soooooo much better... The survey says wtfwt? That was so disappointing they should have had Alicia Keys in it.... Like I have been saying THAT MARKETING TEAM NEEDS TO GO SIT WITH JIM AND MIKE...BlackBerry saw the fake commercial and should have gone with it, come on guys we are only looking out for you

All of a sudden everyone and their chihuahua is an advertising expert.

Brighten up, ppl! The ad did its job and did it very well. It was witty and subdued. No need to be flashy or to over focus on ¨features¨, that´s the desired after-effect, which will come after ppl are curious to find out what those elephant legs and color puff of smoke might mean.

The commercial has run repeatedly after game´s end, so it adds up to more than 30 secs of airplay.

seems like no matter what BB does, haters still gonna hate.

This is what I don't get....NO we are not experts BUT we know what makes us want to try something... Buddy I have had a BlackBerry since 2002 and I'm a hater? You make no sense and the world needs to wake up... FYI my wife runs a P.R company and she also said it sucked... Think buddy think WHY has apple been falling? BECAUSE Samsung has some Amazing commercials and people and soooooo influenced by marketing ... When last have u seen an apple commercial? They are to busy spending money sueing samsung lol. This is not hating this is the People telling BlackBerry We need 1 more change and DUMP the marketing team. I don't want BlackBerry to die we need a STRONG come back

+1 I don't have to be an advertising expert to know when a commercial is bad. The end result of an ad is for the consumer not the ad agency. And as a consumer I didn't really know what the product was selling me nor how bb10 is different. FAIL

The ad is NOT meant to sell a product, jeesh!

You´re obviously a BB believer yourself, so you don´t need to be sold on the product. The ad is meant to trigger curiosity to those unfamiliar with the whole product and cause them to find out more. And that´s the whole idea whether you buy it or not and it succeeds at that.

“We wanted to do it in a bit of a disruptive manner, breaking the conventions of the category, and instead of showcasing the device, to do the opposite and show what the device cannot do and encourage customers to go and check out the device online", BB´s Boulben quote.

And Jonathanks, P.R. is not the same as advertising.

The only thing it should trigger is the BB Human Resources dept to give Boulben his walking papers for incompetence! What a waste of stock holder money. Non BB users are NOT going to care enough to look at a phone based on a elephant legs, a poof of colored smoke and rubber duckies!

If you blinked you missed the commercial. I can't honestly say that it would cause people "find out more about it" if it's not even on their radar. Intrigue is bred by interest and there wasn't anything interesting about the product nor the new BB brand. The focal point was what the phone can't do???? In what world does that ever make sense????? FAIL. And that's not an opinion.

You really should buy this car....because of all the things it can't do!!!! DUMB DUMB DUMB

It's like cutting off an arm to save a finger! DUMB DUMB DUMB

Waste of time and money...

When has there ever been an ad not meant to sell a product?????? Expecially for a struggling company? To inform? To find out more? What the hell? Bad business strategy. Sorry that my passion for this brand is so critical. But realistically, keep it simple stupid. Fundamental business 101. There is such a thing as the art of simplicity. And 30 seconds is all that's needed in a sales pitch. But somehow you say it's not about sales...yet you want them to find out more? Ultimately to sell the product. So let's talk about everything this phone can't do!!!! Yeah that'll work!!! New product and no one knows what it is or does. Why should they care if you don't. Garbage commercial.

Sent from my 64GB playbook.

Wait Wait did you just say an ad is not meant to sell a product ??? Oh may I'm glad you did not come up with a commercial hahaha.... Weeniemeenie NOW that social media has become such A BIG PART in the advertising game P.R and and Advertising have become one in a way. P.R and Advertising has changed over the past few years.

Wow So after I have taken a deep breath after being called a "BB Hater" I decided to Change my Avatar... ENJOY, As you can C I'm probably more BB then u r :p

I think it was enough for people to say and peak their interest. I already got a screen shot of some my iphone user friends that shared it on facebook. And that was before the game was over. Well done

It's pretty simple actually. Right from BlackBerry's site:

"The new BlackBerry Z10 cannot set you on fire, give you elephant legs, cause you to disappear into a cloud of rainbow smoke or turn a speeding truck into harmless rubber duckies. But with only 30 seconds, on the world’s largest advertising stage it’s quicker to show you what it can’t do. In a fun and creative one-time spot that aired this Sunday, BlackBerry introduced the new BlackBerry Z10."

IMHO, this was a perfect commercial. You need to get the viewers attention. They did that. With it launching in the US in March, there is no need to cover features in a Super Bowl slot. Catch people's attention, get them thinking about BlackBerry.

The "Keep Moving" campaign starts tomorrow - you're going to see a ton of ads now for the phone itself and it's features. I walked into Walmart today and there were signs EVERYWHERE for the Z10 RIGHT AT THE ENTRANCE AND EXITS!

BlackBerry is back people - forget the old, boring corporate company.

Frank must have been on Videochat in the same position that he did the commercial explanation. I wonder if he made the little clip with his bb10, probably not. I think thors on the line for me, I'll be right back.

As a past BB user who vists this site from time to time. I feel this Ad did very little to draw US. Consumers to inquire about BB10. Many on this site may say well if you're here the AD must have made some impact. Yes negative impact and the majority of folks who are posting regarding the AD frequent this site as the BB faithful. So if the idea was to draw attention to new consumers and say BlackBerry is back. They could have used Alicia keys or some star power to get the message across.

I thought it was good - got your attention, not typically your old BlackBerry, got the name out there, phone looked sharp...
We all have such high expectations that nothing would meet them...

Wish the USA had the phones tomorrow, but it gives time to build interest (among those that aren't tech heads)...


You know, I've had a chance to watch it several times now and I have to say that the more I watch it, the more I like it. The only problem is, like a CrackBerrian said earlier, the overwhelming majority will only watch it once.

Wow....I hate to say it, but did you guys see the Samsung "Next Big Thing" advertisement at the bottom of the page? I prefer BB to all others, but they know what the h*ll they're doing.

Actually, I like the elephant legs part. Stomping the ground, having fun.

Why so serious?

If you want to bash blackberry, don't bash the ad. It's nothing compared to the loss of compression system on bb10. Means you will use more data than if you use your old bb. Means you will ended up paying more to carriers than when you use your old bb. Bash blackberry on that. Demand them to make sure carriers will not milking us dry. Or whatever the word for that.

Too many people cannot appreciate a single ad or anything for that matter. I pity them ALL.
BlackBerry did a SUPER FANTASTIC JOB with the ad.

Frank B, Here is how BBRY should position themselves from a marketing POV. iOS is a kids phone, my kids are always using it to play games on etc. Very annoying. Same with the iPad. Position the BBRY to be an enterprise/professional device that your kids are not screwing around with all the time. That's money.