BlackBerry 10 Super Bowl Commerical – Interpreted

Burning man

Love it or hate it, the BlackBerry Super Bowl commercial has people talking. By most definitions, that makes it a success.

Still, you might wonder – as I did – why the specific imagery that they chose? Elephant legs? A jump-edit away from them into a poof of smoke? I have very good news: it all makes sense. You just need to look closely enough.

In this analysis, we’ll explore the deeper meanings that might be present in the commercial. Indeed, we’ll see how BlackBerry has effectively thumbed its nose at every major platform with this commercial — including old BBOS.

Come with me, if you will, as we examine the symbolism running rampant through this ad.

We open with a fire – specifically, the protagonist is on fire. What does he do? Does he panic? Does he run in circles, scream, and shout? No, not our hero. With a disdainful smirk that clearly says, “Come on, gimme a break – this isn’t worth my time” he disappears the fire. This fire is a reference to Elop’s famed “burning platform” memo. Yeah, it seems to say. We went and did something new. And we didn’t need all ‘world on fire’ drama, now did we? Business as usual – moving on and putting the past behind us.

Which leads well into the elephant legs. What possible reason could there be for the man to develop a set of lumbering elephant legs, slowing him down — only to have them disappear a moment later?

Again, as we look deeper the meaning becomes clear. This refers to the elephant in the room — the very notion that BlackBerry is old, stodgy, and outdated. Shrugged off with an amused expression, and onward. More than shrugged off: completely erased in a jarring edit back to normalcy, as if it never happened. The past is the past.

Next up, a poof of colored smoke and our protagonist finds himself teleported into a manhole. What could this possibly mean, you ask?

This one is a little harder to read, but we have a clear hint: look at that smoke! Are those Google colors? Why yes, yes they are – an exact match, except for the missing color green (more on that in a moment). You guessed it – Android came up out of nowhere, and it knocked BlackBerry off course for a little while. This is clearly shown by the man’s expression: “what the hell was *that*?” In the end – nothing but smoke and mirrors. And our hero moves on, back on track and unaffected.

You may have noticed that the green color was missing from the smoke – but that makes sense too. Green signifies money – and as we all know, Android is not directly profitable for Google. Viewed in that light, the omission of green from Google colors seems quite deliberate.

Now the duckies – that becomes painfully obvious, doesn’t it? Apple coming at BlackBerry (yes – I said it – that man signifies BlackBerry itself!) like an onrushing truck out of nowhere. But at the last possible instant – an explosion of duckies! What are duckies but a child’s toy?

And so our hero walks off – crushing that child’s toy underfoot.

Several symbols were tortured in the making of this analysis, but no lasting harm was done.

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8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Funny analysis! It makes sense if you want to go that deep. :) LOL… It actually took me two viewings of the commercial to figure out the message (and no I wasn’t drinking) because the tagline was at the end… “it’s easier to show you what Blackberry can’t do”. It’s a clever commercial, now will people get it, specifically americans, especially as the US is a weaker market for BB. Will it make people want to find out more?? We’ll have to wait and see. It did say on fine print on the screen coming soon to the US carriers. I still think it would’ve been better to add in the “re-invented, re-imagined Blackberry” as a lead in… That way the commercial makes a lot of sense immediately.

  2. ok ok ok…Marc, thanks for this. My initial comment on the commercial was that it SUCKED. Obviously, I was expecting something a bit more direct that showcased the new phone/OS. However, in hindsight, this was pretty well thought out and its goal has been accomplished.

    Here’s how I can confirm its working. For the past six months or so my boss has been whining about he’s ready for our company to dump Blackberry and how its crap, despite me telling him about what’s coming. Even still he had jokes. Yesterday, after a meeting approached me about the new Z10 and said it looks sweet. So now he’s curious. Well done BlackBerry….keep at it.

  3. I get it now… 100% makes sense… at first I was like what the hell, didn’t understand it, but you made it clear to me now… Its a clever ad in my opinion….LOL

  4. Just makes it that much sweeter when I watch him step on that little iToy/duckie ;)

  5. Interesting and funny does your analysis make, unfortunately for a lot of Americans they’ve become to dumb to understand a commercial like this with many layers. Like the duckies, Americans want and see toys…

  6. This analysis is just like the message you find in an ad for a face cream, based on studies, etc. ;). You can make the numbers say anything you want.
    I think BB just picked visually appealing effects because it was supposed to be broadcast during the superbowl.

  7. When I read Marc’s analysis it really made me wonder if they didn’t have more thought into it. Either way I found his interpretation compelling. On the other hand it reminds me of when I had an English teacher who made me write about symbolism in the classics like the Old Man and the Sea. My favorite quote from Hemmingway?

    “There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.”

    • At the beginning I was intrigued and thought…Hmmm interesting, but when I reached the Google minus green section, I started to have doubts and I didn’t find the rubber duck interpretation very compelling.

      It could very well be that there are hidden messages and the beauty of it is that people are actually trying to find a meaning to it all, talking about it, etc.

      I only watched it once, because it’s not really my type of ad, I prefer the ones for shampoo ;)

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