Well, Blackberry sure made a bold move.
At its launch event for the BlackBerry 10 in New York City on Wednesday, the Waterloo, Ont.-based tech company Research In Motion (RIM) announced a few major changes to curb its falling sales and stocks – changing the company name BlackBerry, unveiling the new BB10 model, and naming Grammy-winner Alicia Keys as its global creative director.
"She believes in the product and technology," said BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins in a statement, according to the CBC. "We are excited she will be bringing to us her enormous capabilities, as well as a vast network of relationships in the entertainment, social media and business communities, to help shape our brand and grow our business."
Keys used those social media skills right away to demonstrate how excited she was to be joining the Blackberry team.
“Excited2jump right in2my new role as Global Creative Director of@Blackberry! #BlackBerry10 #keepmoving #forwardthinking” she tweeted Wednesday morning.
In her new position, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter, who is about set off on her world tour to promote her new album “Girl On Fire,” says she will be hands-on in the creative side of Blackberry and work with designers, developers, retailers, and carriers to expand the company’s app content. Keys will also try to encourage other artists and athletes to reignite their Crackberry addiction.
"I want to bridge the gap between the work phone and the play phone," she said.
At the launch, Keys explained her relationship with BlackBerry as a long-term relationship, although she admitted to openly using an iPhone (and she still may be using it to post Instagram photos). But now she’s a one-phone kind of girl again, a step that’s clearly an attempt to reboot the company’s image. The BlackBerry pretty much invented the smart phone technology, but quickly fell from the top of the tech giants after failing to keep up with Apple and Android products. Keys joins the likes of Will.I.Am. and Lady Gaga, who also took up gigs as creative directors of Intel and Polaroid, respectively.
Several other celebs have had relationships with tech companies. Jessica Alba was on hand to help launch Windows 8 in 2012, Ashton Kutcher was the face of Nikon, and Justin Long was “the Mac guy” in TV ads. Beyoncé, David Beckham, Shakira, Jerry Seinfeld, Gwen Stefani, and even Vern Troyer have all lent their faces to promote phones, cameras, computers, and mini mp3 players.
Still, reactions to Keys’s new gig were mixed. Fans of both the artist and the company were enthusiastic about the pairing.
“Another reason why I'm not giving up my Blackberry #POW! My shares just went up…” wrote former “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Isaiah Washington.
But others voiced their confusion on Twitter the celebrity choice.
“Alicia Keys is Blackberry's new Global Creative Director. That seems weird,” wrote @davidcaolo.
“Alicia Keys as creative director? Sorry, Blackberry, that's about as on-trend as having a guest feature on an album w Nicki Garbaj,” wrote @RafayAgha.
Most, however, took this as an opportunity to crack some jokes.
“Like to think Alicia Keys is currently hovering over someone’s shoulder asking if that’s how it’s going to look,” wrote @asburyandasbury.
“Alicia Keys named global creative director for @BlackBerry. Changes her name to Alicia QWERTY Keys,” wrote @KaylaZerby.
"The BlackBerry 10 is OK, but I find the Alicia Keys too close together,” wrote @TorrensJonathan.
“Alicia Keys punches in at BlackBerry HQ and sighs, ‘At least it's almost Friday,’” wrote @stevekovach.
“10 minutes until Alicia Keys tweets how much she loves the BlackBerry Z10 from her iPhone,” wrote @LaughingStoic.
But Keys’s own Twitter feed was pure excitement.
“First official tweet from my new #BlackBerry10 baby!!!;-) #keepmoving # forwardthinking,” she tweeted, along with a photo of her new toy, not yet available in Canada.
Let’s hope that Keys keeps “Fallin’” for BlackBerry in her new role, and won’t have to keep asking “How Come You Don’t Call Me?” on her new “Unbreakable” phone.