by Al Sacco

RIM/BlackBerry to Sponsor U2 360 Tour, So Move Over Mayer, Madonna

Mar 10, 2009 3 mins
Data Center

In yet another attempt to further extend its reach beyond office buildings and boardrooms, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has signed on as the lead sponsor of Irish uber-rock-band U2’s upcoming 360 Degree Tour, which will commence on June 30 in Barcelona. RIM’s no slouch when it comes to associating the BlackBerry brand with cool, hip artistic types—the antithesis of the traditional suit-laden BlackBerry user—but the U2 deal represents a very significant win for the Canadian company. Here’s why.

image of U2 360 Degree Tour Logo on BlackBerry Storm
U2 360 Degree Tour Logo on BlackBerry Storm

Sure, RIM’s had a number of high-level celebs as “spokesmen” in the past, namely tuneful lothario John Mayer, who never seems to miss an opportunity to be photographed with his BlackBerry. RIM first announced that it would sponsor Mayer’s “BlackBerry Presents John Mayer in Concert” tour way back in the spring of 2007, and the singer/songwriter has since performed at a number of private RIM events in places like Orlando and Las Vegas.

RIM, ahem, BlackBerry, also sponsored Madonna’s 2008 “Sticky & Sweet Tour,” during which “BlackBerry Bold Ambassadors” snapped photographs of concert-goers to both drum up interest in the high-end Bold 9000 device and create a photo-mosaic of Madge herself.

But the U2 pact is different. Whereas John Meyer and Madonna both cater to fairly specific demographics—young, mostly-white hipsters and teenage-to-middle-age females, respectively—U2’s fan base really extends beyond demographics. Everyone knows someone who loves U2, and you’d be hard put to jam all the bands’ fans into one category.

And that’s exactly what RIM’s banking on; a wider degree of BlackBerry exposure—360 degrees, if you will. That and the fact that U2 is going to sell out each and every one of its 18 tour dates—that we know of—and that each and every one of its concert attendees will leave thinking about BlackBerry smartphones just a little bit more than a few hours earlier.

Bottom line: This is a big marketing win for RIM, and though no financial details have been announced, you can bet lots and LOTS of zeros were involved. Still, I suspect it will be worth every penny spent.

I’m not at all a U2 fan. Quite the contrary really; never mind the fact that front man Bono has clear ties to both Apple and Palm, two of RIM’s biggest rivals, the band’s last few albums may as well have been recorded in the same session, they sound so similar. But that’s beside the point; even I, a U2 anti-fan, understand the band’s extraordinary following.

If RIM wants to regain its title as King of the U.S. Smartphone space from iPhone-maker Apple, as well as maintain its dominance over Palm, it needs to not only convince interested shoppers that its products are superior, but also raise awareness among people who might not otherwise be exposed to RIM, or BlackBerry, marketing.

It does make ya wonder, though: How long will it be before images of The Edge flaunting a new Storm or Niagara 9630 hit the Web?

You’ll find additional details on U2’s 360 Degree Tour, including dates, locations and information on a wacky new stage, on the tour website.


FREE CIO BlackBerry Newsletter

Get better use out of your BlackBerry and keep up-to-date on the latest developments. Sign-up ť