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New BlackBerry regime seeks image change after Alicia Keys PR disaster

Beleaguered mobile firm BlackBerry looks set to undergo an image overhaul that will see less emphasis put on seducing everyday consumers, having recently terminated its short-lived partnership with popstar Alicia Keys.

Speaking to ITProPortal at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, BlackBerry’s director of consumer services, David Proulx, said new CEO John Chen was taking the company back to its enterprise-focused roots and ending expensive celebrity campaigns was symptomatic of the changes afoot.

“We parted ways with Alicia Keys last week which is representative of our approach to market and marketing,” Proulx said. The move to cull ‘global creative director’ Keys shows that the company is actively executing on its new strategy, he claimed, as the Canadian firm continues to try and halt it’s well-documented slide.

When asked how Chen will compare with his hapless predecessor Thorstein Heins, Proulx responded firmly, declaring, “They will differ, is the statement.”

Proulx refused to comment on Heins performance as BlackBerry chief, but a year on from the ex-CEO’s decision to bring Keys into the fold, Proulx said the return on investment with celebrity partnerships was "harder to justify as compared to the things we do like partnerships with wireless network operators and other OEMs… As a vehicle, that to us has a far more demonstrable ROI than broad-based marketing work.”

He added that the Keys' departure is “representative of the way you run your business when you’re in a certain mode of operation” and “the way you run your business when you’re focusing on the enterprise market as we are.”

Proulx, who also leads BBM on Android for BlackBerry, said the cross-platform messaging service will form an important part of the company’s future – a future he insists is not as bleak as commentators would have you believe.

“Why was 2013 not revival year? 2013 for us was always a year of transition, which is very different to revival… I think the transition is going really well.”

“They key thing is to not diminish the role the media plays in shaping public opinion because that ultimately translates into people’s behaviour, but when we listen to our colleagues, our customers, our clients and our suppliers, the sentiment is vastly different than what tends to be over-publicised in certain elements of the media.”