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Why BlackBerry is Outraged by T-Mobile’s iPhone Promotion


Why BlackBerry is Outraged by T-Mobile’s iPhone Promotion

Meg Rahner April 1, 2014

In honor of April Fool’s day we wanted to talk about a controversy from earlier this year… While intentions were good, many folks were angered by what some call a ‘stunt’ by T-Mobile. An email promotion recently offered some T-Mobile customers an iPhone 5s for US$500. That is $150 off of the retail price. It would seem that T-Mobile users would have been happy. Things often get complicated when it comes to customer service. Unfortunately, T-Mobile targeted the wrong group of people with the offer.

BlackBerry Fans Rage

BlackBerry loyalists cried foul and a flurry of tweets, emails and phone calls flooded BlackBerry offices. Why? It seemed that the promotion was decidedly anti-Blackberry, since it was a promotion for iPhone and the emails were sent exclusively to Blackberry users.

The CEO Responds

The BlackBerry CEO, John Chen, also became outraged when he found out what T-Mobile was up to. Like most tech savvy people, he naturally took his angst to Twitter.  In a couple posts, he reassured his users that they didn’t need to go to another company to get more affordable phones and told them that Blackberry was working with his team and would provide news in the future.

These vague tweets where followed up with a blog post by the CEO. In the blog, Chen vented his frustration and “outrage” about the situation, calling it an “inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.”

T-Mobile Gets in a Few Words

The CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, wasn’t silent on the matter. He quickly took to Twitter and sent out these messages:

BlackBerry users, I’m hearing you loud and clear. Let me work with the team and get back with you.

BlackBerry followed up:

We give our customers choices, but you don’t have to give up your #loyalty. We will continue to support (sic)

We focus on choice and freedom. Our #BlackBerry customers have a choice when they pick a different OS at upgrade time. #fact

Mike Sievert, Chief Marketing Officer, also was quick to reply to the outcry with his own blog post. In it, Sievert accused Chen of trying to restrict the flow of information that is presented to BlackBerry users. Then, after seemingly reprimanding Chen, he presented a new promotion aimed at giving loyal BlackBerry users what they want: a new BlackBerry. In the promotion, T-Mobile offered a $200 credit toward a new device with the trade-in of an older BlackBerry device.

The offer seemed to calm the anger of those enraged by the former promotion and it looks like the two companies won’t stop doing business with each other any time soon. The lesson to learn here is that providers need to remember the old adage, dance with who brought you. If you’re doing a targeted campaign, get that target right! When you don’t people are liable to get pretty upset…

Meg Rahner

Meg Rahner
Meg is the PR Coordinator for CircleClick and a writer for MobileFOMO. She is from Erie, Pennsylvania and has a BA in Public Relations from Penn State University. She moved to San Francisco shortly after graduating in 2010 and loves life on the west coast. Since moving to SF, she has contracted for the Academy of Art University's Marketing team, LinkedIn's Recruiting Team, and is excited to be pursuing her passion for writing and PR in her current roles.
Follow me on twitter @megrahner

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