BlackBerry was not a Belieber

Jamie Feltham
December 6, 2013

BlackBerry rejected teen pop sensation Justin Bieber as its brand ambassador in 2007.

Bieber approached the company six years ago offering to take up the position for $200,000 ( £122,000) and 20 devices, but the company’s marketing department said he was a “fad”.

This is according to a ‘oral history of BlackBerry’ in the latest issue of Bloomberg Business Week, which saw the media network interview former employees including managing director from 2007-12 Ray Gillenwater.

Vincent Washington, who was RIM senior business development manager from 2001-11, said: “One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, ‘Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,’ basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that.

“They basically threw us out of the room. They said, ‘This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.’ I said at the meeting: ‘This kid might outlive RIM.’ Everyone laughed.”

Bieber, who like BlackBerry is from Ontario, Canada, was discovered a year later in 2008 by American talent manager Scooter Braun. In the previous 12 months, he has earned an estimated $55 million ( £34 million) and as of May 2012, he had sold more than 15 million albums. He also has more than 47 million followers on Twitter.

About the Author

Jamie Feltham

Videogamer, music listener, squash player, exerciser, technology journalister. Multimedia journalism graduate, writing for the What Mobile mag and website

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