Is RIM using stealth advertising to promote BlackBerry 10 on Twitter?

BlackBerry 10 keyboard close upResearch in Motion is in the final stages of BlackBerry 10’s preparation, as there’s only a little over six weeks to go until the launch event, and therefore promotional activity is nearing fever pitch. It has done a good job of providing us with snippets of information to keep us interested so far, but what about those who don’t keep up with tech news?

RIM has been hard at work pushing BlackBerry 10 through its social media accounts, particularly on Twitter, where it has been retweeting comments related to the new OS and its charms. But these aren’t just attention seekers saying they can’t wait for it to be released, but those who have a degree of stature in the “real world” and to whom a private demonstration has obviously been given.

The general Research in Motion account isn’t the culprit however, it’s the official BlackBerry UK account. Those being retweeted aren’t tech moguls, but those who BlackBerry probably feels are relatable or trusted individuals. Here are a couple of examples. Sky News presenter Eamonn Holmes’ tweeted, “Just had a sneak preview of the new BlackBerry 10…Apple beware!” on December 4 and later expanded on what he was so impressed with, “Camera, predictive keyboard, apps, size and quality of screen, battery life, lack of a rollerball and lots of tricks.” Sounds like an extensive test there, Mr. Holmes.

High praise for BB10

Another news reader, Jamie Shepherd, was retweeted by BlackBerry UK after saying, “Got a preview of the new BlackBerry 10… I’m officially going to lose sleep until that shiny, beautiful thing is mine.” He also told a follower what was so great, “does so many clever things, rewind time in photos etc.” Not the most detailed of explanations. He’s referring to a feature RIM demonstrated during a BlackBerry 10 event earlier this year, where an almost video-like burst mode lets you select the perfect moment in a stills picture. Finally, this morning England cricketer Kevin Pieterson, who has long been associated with BlackBerry, said simply “BlackBerry 10 looks amazing!”

Between these three alone, RIM ensured BlackBerry 10 was mentioned to nearly 1.4 million people, which it then retweeted to around 100,000 of its own followers. It’s all high praise too, and none of the comments are singled out as sponsored endorsements. Research in Motion needs to be careful though, as the Office of Fair Trading in the UK takes a dim view of companies not disclosing whether this type of promotion has been paid for or not, calling it deceptive advertising. The Advertising Standards Agency received many complaints earlier this year when a series of Nike marketing tweets from footballers didn’t include #ad or something similar. They were subsequently deemed to have breached the advertising code. Athletes were also warned to disclose sponsorship on Twitter ahead of the 2012 Olympics too.

If you’re wondering why the U.S. based Research in Motion Twitter account isn’t busily doing the same, it’s because U.S. law on the subject of sponsored tweets is clear – it must include “ad” or “spon” to indicate the tweet has been paid for – while law in the UK is far less clear. So, is RIM using stealth advertising on Twitter in the UK? The fact Pieterson, Shepherd and Holmes all sent their tweets using either Twitter or UberSocial for BlackBerry may tell you all you need to know.

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