The Mad Men behind the first BlackBerry Super Bowl ad

London-based ad agency AMV BBDO is know for commercials that make bold statements. The firm's "Surfer" ad for Guinness was voted the greatest of all time.

London-based ad agency AMV BBDO is know for commercials that make bold statements. The firm’s “Surfer” ad for Guinness was voted the greatest of all time.

Thirty seconds is not a lot of time to get a point across. When news broke that Research in Motion would, for the first time, be buying ad space for the upcoming SuperBowl, some felt the price tag, an estimated $4 million, might be too steep.

But RIM’s chief marketing officer, Frank Boulben, said the timing was right.

“A Super Bowl commercial is a great opportunity to show the redesigned, re-engineered and reinvented BlackBerry to tens of millions of consumers on the largest advertising stage of the year,” he said in a statement.

Our feeling on the matter is this: a simple rundown of the new features of the BlackBerry 10 (better camera, fast browser, “hub and flow” user interface) would be good. But a dramatic “we’re back” artistic statement is what most BlackBerry supporters are really looking for.

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RIM’s choice of advertising agency hints that we may be in store for just that. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, a London-based firm charged with revitalizing the BlackBerry brand, is known for its bold statements. The firm, the third largest ad agency in the world, is behind some of the most memorable ad campaigns in recent history, including the gorgeous “Surfer” ad for Guinness that in 2002 was voted the “best ad of all time” in a poll conducted by Channel 4 and The Sunday Times.

More recently, the company was brought in to try and help Mercedes reduce the average age of its buyers with the eerie “Escape the Map” ads, and the recent hit “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ads for Snickers.

In May of last year, RIM began running this ad from AMV BBDO, which some immediately called the company’s best ever. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO was appointed as international lead agency by RIM two years ago. In the United States, BlackBerry appears to be in the midst of an at least modest brand revival.

In the United States alone, the Super Bowl was watched by 111.3 million viewers last year.

Below, the Guinness ‘Surfer’ ad.

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About Nick Waddell

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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