I like the BlackBerry Pearl [jks] quite a lot. The fact that I work for a Rogers dealer is the only reason I haven’t written about it in my weekly article [em], since that would be a conflict of interests even though others do it. However if I’m not out there pimping it in the press it’s interesting to discover that Vancouver author and voice of a generation Douglas Coupland [dc] is.
The author of Generation X and Microserfs as well as last year’s jPod is featured on the website for the BlackBerry Pearl in one of those “how this device can change your life” style features [bbp]. The feature basically just describes how he uses the phone, and magically happens to use each and everyone one of its features. From watching trailers of his upcoming movies to sending pictures of his sculptures via MMS the phone seems to match his lifestyle perfectly. So perfect it should be used in a marketing campaign.
Ta da, it is.
I was going to comment, more than I have already here, but the blog This Blog Sits at the did it better [tbs]:
But it is necessary to see that Blackberry hires Coupland precisely to lend his cultural significance to the brand, that it might become more glorious, better defined, and more profitable. Coupland brings several things. He is a Renaissance man of a kind, comfortable in several media. He has a certain international reach. He is restless and experimental in his creative undertakings. But, most of all, and the very point of the hire, surely, is that Coupland lends to Blackberry some of his standing as a man who reads culture with perspicuity and power, and the fact that he read the early 1990s so well he helped to give it shape and form.
When Coupland spends his cultural capital on behalf of Blackberry, he extinguishes some of it. This is true for every celebrity endorser. For Coupland, this may well be a fair trade. He will use his endorsement fee to sustain his creative career, and who knows what new accomplishments await him? A single “hit” would restore the capital this campaign will cost him.
But back to the anti-materialism, anti-marketing of the early 1990s. When Coupland endorses a consumer good, he contradicts his cultural significance. In the process, he extinguishes the part of the credibility that made him a suitable celebrity endorser. This damage to Coupland’s celebrity inflicts harm on the Blackberry brand. The “meaning mechanics” of this marketing campaign are ill advised.