In a single day last week, Research in Motion launched a new operating system, two new smartphones and changed its company name to BlackBerry. It also introduced a new employee, global creative director Alicia Keys.
The Grammy-winning singer said her “goal is to inspire creativity” in her new job (despite tweeting from an iPhone a day earlier). But will she be more than just a celebrity endorser? Giving musicians lofty creative director titles (will.i.am at Intel in 2011, Lady Gaga at Polaroid in 2009) has become an oft-ridiculed trend at tech companies. Kenneth Wong, a marketing expert at Queen’s University, says a true collaboration with Keys could actually be beneficial. “Celebrity culture is deeply integrated with the Internet and social media,” says Wong. And Keys could serve as a bridge to the app world that BlackBerry ignored in the past. “For BlackBerry not to use her would be a missed opportunity,” he says.