BlackBerry jams at The Block

Sidewalk stencils and in-venue mobile codes are part of the handset-maker's title sponsorship of an exclusive MMVA-weekend party in downtown Toronto.

BlackBerry is taking its BBM service to the streets.

The Research in Motion-owned brand is a title sponsor of The Block, a multi-venue VIP party timed to coincide with all the glitz, glam and celebrities around the Much Music Video Awards this weekend in Toronto. Billed as a VIP-filled, exclusive event, it will take place in four different venues in the block between John and Patrick streets in downtown Toronto on Saturday night. (The MMVAs are on Sunday.)

BlackBerry’s sponsorship of the event is designed to promote both its BBM instant-messaging service and its ongoing brand positioning around music. The activation is already in-market by way of stencils on sidewalks around The Block and MMVA venues, each featuring The Block logo and a mobile URL – – that activates a response on the phone to detect whether or not the user is on a BlackBerry. If yes, a BBM PIN code is provided that allows the user to become BBM ‘friends’ and the user is entered to win tickets to event. If the person is not a BBM user, the messaging tells them they’re missing out and directs them to a nearby BlackBerry retailer. (Originally, mobile codes were to be included in the stencils too, but chalk proved to be a difficult media for mobile code-scanners to read.)

Stealth barcodes will be placed around the inside of the venues and the first 200 people to scan them with a BlackBerry reader – software that’s included in new handsets – can win upgraded wristbands for ‘VVIP’ access at the parties. BBM users connected to The Block will also get exclusive access to a Raveonettes – one of the bands performing at the parties – track that will be recorded live at the party and distributed to BBM’ers within hours of the show.

The goal behind developing the BlackBerry sponsorship was to go beyond the typical gift bags and marketing collateral, says Kalynn Crump, partner, Event Magnifique, the production company behind the event.

‘We spent a lot of time crafting the [Blackberry] sponsorship to ensure that it was being used to its fullest potential,’ she explains. ‘We never take on sponsors that just want to hand out product for the sake of it – it’s really about letting our invited guests experience a brand.’

BlackBerry has recently launched an advertising blitz behind its BBM service – MiC caught this transit station domination (below) at Bloor subway station in Toronto last weekend.