Is BlackBerry mimicking Apple? Or is Bono?

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by Chris Matyszczyk, CNet

While preparing myself for a feature-length period being upended by Bruno, the Austrian arbiter of taste, I was struck by a sight almost as strange as Bruno in khakis.

The screen was adorned with an ad for U2. Well, it appeared to have been paid for by BlackBerry, but I wonder just how much it might do for perhaps Canada's finest brand.

As some erudite commentators have pointed out, the ad bears a remarkable resemblance to an Apple ad featuring Coldplay. And even to an Apple ad featuring, um, U2.

Which might make one wonder just what machinations might have occurred in order for such a faintly familiar work to see digital light.

What is really quite beautiful about the BlackBerry brand is that it was created without the obvious help of advertising.

It's not that BlackBerry has never been advertised. It's simply that people bought into the brand because they loved the feeling of that business-like machine so close to their fingers and pelvis, rather than because they espied an ad that made them laugh, cry, sing or perhaps even lose their victuals.

It's rarely easy to create ads that feature the extremely famous. They tend to have very strong opinions as to how they should be seen. So is it possible that BlackBerry might have ceded some influence to Bono in the configuration of this work?

When U2 signed a deal with RIM, Bono was positively vertiginous in delineating the difference between RIM and Apple. The Toronto Globe and Mail quoted him as saying: "Research In Motion is going to give us what Apple wouldn't--access to their labs and their people so we can do something really spectacular."

While it would be lovely to be touched by the spectacular, this spot doesn't seem pass the spectacle test. Right down to the typeface at the very end, which bears an unnerving resemblance to Apple's.

"BlackBerry loves U2," it says. Might the implication be that Apple didn't? Could it be that it was Bono rather than BlackBerry who influenced the ad to be so similar to Apple's, in some slightly odd nose-thumbing gesture in the direction of Cupertino?

It's already a rather peculiar menage-a-trois, given that Bono was a founder of Elevation Partners, which holds a substantial stake in Palm.

So while pondering these peculiarities, I think back to "Bruno." The movie ends with a rather touching charity ditty, featuring Bruno himself. And Sting. And Snoop-Dogg. And Elton John. And, wait, there's Bono again.

He's everywhere, isn't he?

© 2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on July 12, 2009 7:03 PM.

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