Gi­u­liani touts Black­Berry

‘Risky choice’ for brand am­bas­sador

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - GER­RIT DE VYNCK

Black­Berry got some free pub­lic­ity when for­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani, fresh from a bel­li­cose per­for­mance at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Cleveland, touted the Cana­dian com­pany’s se­cu­rity bona fides in a speech.

The po­ten­tial for ter­ror­ists to hack tar­gets like hos­pi­tals or po­lice com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works is one of the big­gest threats fac­ing the world, Gi­u­liani said at an event Tues­day held by Black­Berry in New York to show­case its sta­ble of soft­ware prod­ucts.

Most com­pa­nies are cre­at­ing new tech­nolo­gies with­out enough thought for how to keep them se­cure, Gi­u­liani said, sport­ing a tie dec­o­rated with ele­phants, the Repub­li­can Party sym­bol. “Black­Berry on the other hand, their cor­po­rate cul­ture be­gan as de­vice se­cu­rity,” he said.

The for­mer politi­cian is now chair of the cy­ber­se­cu­rity, pri­vacy and cri­sis man­age­ment prac­tice at the law firm Green­berg Trau­rig. He was not paid for the speech and has no for­mal busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with Black­Berry.

Black­Berry is work­ing to in­crease rev­enue from se­cu­rity-fo­cused soft­ware prod­ucts as ques­tions linger over the vi­a­bil­ity of its smart­phone busi­ness.

The Water­loo -based com­pany used the New York event to ham­mer home its view that com­pa­nies aren’t pre­pared to fend off hack­ers and will need to buy more soft­ware that helps con­trol how in­for­ma­tion is stored and shared.

In an in­ter­view af­ter the speech, Gi­u­liani said the U.S. needs a new gov­ern­ment agency to en­sure com­pa­nies are pro­tect­ing their clients and cus­tomers from se­cu­rity threats.

The choice of Gi­u­liani as a brand am­bas­sador was a risky one for Black­Berry given how par­ti­san he has be­come in his sup­port for Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump, said Allen Adam­son, who runs the brand­ing firm BrandSim­ple Con­sult­ing.

“It clearly is a ques­tion­able choice, a risky choice,” Adam­son said. “Maybe they booked this a while ago. Six months ago Gi­u­liani was a politi­cian, but not nearly as po­lar­iz­ing as in the past three months.”

On Mon­day night, Gi­u­liani fired up del­e­gates at the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion by de­nounc­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s record on ter­ror­ism and the nu­clear deal with Iran.

Choos­ing Gi­u­liani shows Black­Berry isn’t as con­cerned about its per­cep­tion among av­er­age con­sumers as it was in the past, Adam­son said.

“To some ex­tent it’s a sig­nal that they’ve thrown in the towel on any mean­ing­ful con­sumer brand man­age­ment,” he said.

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