May 04, 2012 at 10:42 AM EDT
Did Research in Motion’s “Wake Up” Campaign at Sydney Apple Store Backfire?
Research in Motion on Tuesday admitted that it was behind the “Wake Up” flashmob activity around Apple stores in Sydney, Australia.
(IBTimes) -- 05/04/2012 --

Research in Motion on Tuesday admitted that it was behind the "Wake Up" flashmob activity around Apple stores in Sydney, Australia.

"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," the company said in a statement. "A reveal will take place on May 7th that will aim to provoke conversation on what 'being in business' means to Australians."

The flashmob arrived in a huge, black bus with the words "Wake Up" printed on the outside. The protesters, dressed in black held up "Wake Up" signs chanted outside the Apple store in Sydney on April 22. Australian blogger Nate "Blunty" Burr was on site and captured the flashmob on video.

"Apple staff stared out the window with generally blank looks on their face, and no one had much of an idea about what the bloody hell was going on," said the blogger about the incident.

Bloggers who saw the video linked the flashmob activity back to Samsung who had launched high-profile anti-Apple ad campaigns in the past few months. Samsung denied that it was behind the stunt but the damage had been done, the press and the public thought Samsung was behind the marketing ploy.  Much to RIM's consternation its own marketing stunt actually gave free publicity to a rival company.  

The AFR's David Ramli quoted John Mescall from ad agency McCann saying, "Campaigns like this are a very cheap trick, [and] can backfire if the main event doesn't live up to the hype and I guess Kony2012 is a great example of that."

RIM made the mistake of not owning up to the stunt after the video went on the Internet. By the time the company actually admitted to being behind the stunt the press had moved on from the flash mob incident. Everyone had already linked Samsung to the stunt because Samsung had already taken high-profile jabs at Apple and Samsung was actually gearing up to launch its Galaxy S III. It was logical to assume that it would ratchet up marketing for the Galaxy and that the company would do it by targeting its biggest rival.

Research in Motion is currently holding its annual developer conference, Blackberry World in Orlando, Florida. The company's new CEO Thorsten Heins showcased the BlackBerry 10 operating system after months of delay. There's still no word about what the "reveal" on May 7 will be.

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