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Alicia Keys Is BlackBerry’s New Creative Director


Alicia Keys, global creative director for BlackBerry, right, smiles while being introduced by the company's CEO, Thorsten Heins, during the launch of the BlackBerry 10 in New York, on Jan. 30, 2013

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Alicia Keys, global creative director for BlackBerry, right, smiles while being introduced by the company's CEO, Thorsten Heins, during the launch of the BlackBerry 10 in New York, on Jan. 30, 2013

Forget about a new operating system and a new corporate name—the big news out of BlackBerry’s (RIMM) announcement today was that the Canadian tech firm has appointed Alicia Keys as its global creative director.

Keys joins a long and distinguished list of entertainers who have taken on creative-director duties at various companies. Intel (INTC), wanting to get in on that My Humps action, hired Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am as its “director of creative innovation.” Polaroid, when it wasn’t being passed around from creditor to creditor in bankruptcy proceedings, announced in 2010 that it had appointed Lady Gaga as its creative director, based on her extensive work in industrial design and precision optics.

Not only is there precedent in music in general, this kind of strategic partnership has already happened in Keys’s immediate family: Her husband, record producer Swizz Beatz, was named creative director of Lotus Cars in 2011. (Er, until Lotus’s parent company, Malaysian carmaker Proton, was sold in 2012.)

No doubt BlackBerry will be using Keys in advertisements and appearances in the coming weeks and months. The phonemaker will want to be careful, though, with its product tie-ins: Some of Keys’s biggest songs have such titles as You Don’t Know My Name, Troubles, Like You’ll Never See Me Again, and, her first big hit, Fallin’.

Grobart is a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek and the managing editor of Bloomberg Digital Video. Follow him on Twitter @samgrobart.

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