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 This refers to the elephant in the room — the very notion that BlackBerry is old, stodgy, and outdated.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.