RIM’s silly “Wake Up” flashmob campaign backfires, gives Samsung some free advertising instead

RIM Wake Up FlashmobAt the end of last week, a video showing flashmob activity around Apple Stores in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia was linked to Samsung, who were believed to be promoting the next Galaxy smartphone, set for release on May 3.

The mob arrived in a bus, ran out, shouted a lot and held signs with “Wake Up” on them outside the store.

This came just a short while after Samsung released its event teaser video, which contained a cheap shot against Apple product owners, and the damage was done; the mob was written off as Samsung’s doing.

The Internet took this as the end of the story — even though Samsung denied it — and settled down to wait for them to get on with unveiling the phone, which would put an end to these slightly feeble marketing efforts.

Except somewhere deep inside Research in Motion, a marketing executive was banging their fists against the wall, as this was not Samsung’s feeble effort at all, it was RIM’s.

Word was put out that RIM was behind the stunt, but everyone had forgotten all about it by that time, forcing RIM Australia to issue a press release saying:

“We can confirm that the Australian ‘Wake Up’ campaign, which involves a series of experiential activities taking place across Sydney and Melbourne, was created by RIM Australia. A reveal will take place on May 7th that will aim to provoke conversation on what ‘being in business’ means to Australians.”

It’s the marketing equivalent of telling a poor joke and then having to explain why the punchline is funny. As is the irony-laden response video to the original which documented the event.

What went wrong?

For viral campaigns like this to work, it either needs to be relatively obvious what it’s all about, or very quickly revealed afterwards. Leaving the Internet to do its own detective work isn’t the best idea, especially when you’re expecting it to find a company with almost nothing to shout about at all.

Linking Samsung, who had already taken various pot shots at Apple, to the campaign was logical, as the world and his dog is talking about the Galaxy S III. We’re sure they didn’t mind the extra publicity either.

If we feared RIM was out of ideas when it came to new devices, this shows things are equally barren elsewhere too.

BlackBerry World

Believe it or not, today sees the start of BlackBerry World, Research in Motion’s annual developer conference. Google I/O and Apple’s WWDC have and will both attract headlines, but BlackBerry World has failed to do so.

At 9am EST, the company’s new CEO Thorsten Heins will take to the stage to deliver his keynote speech, and could potentially reveal the BlackBerry 10 operating system, in addition to talking about the company’s future plans.

It’s an important event for RIM, and one that’s being swept aside in the rush for news on the Samsung Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5 and embarrassing marketing blunders like the one above.

In these final hours before the event starts, RIM should consider heeding its own slogan.