Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The ObamaBerry

Obama: Research in Motion as...
  1. Rick Astley:The 80's
  2. Hot Tubs:Water
  3. Michael Jordan:Nike
  4. Peanut Butter:Jelly
Correct answer: #3

No, sports fans, this isn't about Obama and his ability to shoot the J.  This is about Research in Motion missing out on one of the biggest opportunities of its corporate lifespan.

To give some background on why C is the correct answer to this multiple choice, one has to look back to 1984 and the Air Jordan 1.  After Michael Jordan signed with Nike, the company created a pair of red and black basketball shoes that became known as the Air Jordan I.  A significant departure from the traditional white basketball shoe, the NBA fined Michael Jordan up to $5,000 per game for the shoe's non-conforming colors.  Nike gladly paid the NBA fines, and the amount of buzz, media attention, and controversy surrounding the shoe created the beginning of one of the strongest brands and shoe lines in the history of footwear.

The results of this marketing effort is seen today.  The Air Jordan I led to the creation of a Nike subsidiary, twenty-four year line of high price point shoes, and a global phenomenon.  Certainly the designers at Nike and the pure ability and talent of Michael Jordan played a strong role in the development of this brand, but one cannot neglect the role of the Air Jordan I, the controversy the shoe created, and Nike using the controversy as a marketing tool to develop the Jordan brand.

Today, Research in Motion has an amazing opportunity to do the same with Barack Obama.  I'm sure there's a clause that forbids the president from signing endorsement deals; however, why doesn't Research in Motion market this?  Everyone else seems to be capitalizing on Barack Obama's election, and Research in Motion should do the same.  Heck, at least Research in Motion's product offering is better than the mail-order Barack Obama plates I saw on TV yesterday.

Sadly, Research in Motion seems to be letting this opportunity fall by the wayside.  No news releases came out about Research in Motion developing an ultra-safe BlackBerry for the president.  There were no Gen Y targeted ads or viral marketing efforts to increase the brand image that the leader of the free world will fight the Secret Service for his BlackBerry.  

I'm still waiting for the ObamaBerry Storm complete with a Shephard Fairey Hope poster and pre-registration to Barack Obama's weekly webinar and RSS feed.

Get on it, Research in Motion; don't let this one pass you by.


Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting to see exactly what RIM does with its golden egg. Let's hope it doesn't kill the goose.

Michael O said...

I'm not sure that the Nike-Jordan relationship is analogous, given the constraints on endorsement deals for political figures, as you touched on. But I tend to agree with your macro point.

This is vaguely-related, but did you see Starbucks' ad campaign on community service that premiered around the time of Obama's inauguration?

I feel like this ad is intended to subliminally connect the Starbucks brand to Obama's by invoking community service (a theme of Obama's campaign), targeting to youth (a strategy of the Obama campaign), and even aesthetically you see a lot of Os and oval-shapes in the Starbucks ad. Pretty creative and smart on the part of the Starbucks ad team.

See ya soon, Phil!

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