The job of a chief marketing officer is never easy, and none was more difficult than the position Keith Pardy was put into…twice. Pardy announced his departure from Research In Motion a short while ago, citing personal reasons as the motivator behind his decision. He joined the ranks of RIM back in early 2009 when he arrived from another already suffering mobile giant, Nokia. Mr. Pardy served at Nokia for almost five years, joining Nokia in 2004 when Nokia was at its prime. At Nokia he had the misfortune to witness any marketing exec’s worst nightmare: a failing brand. Nokia wasn’t failing globally, but it was failing in a crucial area of mobile telephony that Pardy was unable to reverse. Perhaps it was misfortune or perhaps it was his big second chance, but Pardy joined RIM in the beginning of that company’s free fall into brand oblivion. You can’t blame him for RIM’s failures to connect with the public over the last couple of years. RIM’s problems are more deeply rooted than just brand image. And nothing screams that more than Pardy’s imminent departure.
Keith Pardy will be sticking around for at least another six months to help with the transition. His successor has not yet been named, but if RIM is taking the re-branding and re-positioning approach, you can count on that someone to be a fresh face with radical ideas. In fact, Pardy’s departure is a warning sign in the industry. Is this the beginning of an exec exodus that mimics that of Motorola? Hopefully it is, because RIM needs to completely re-evaluate itself and in order to do that it needs to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Pardy could have reversed the direction of RIM with the PlayBook. The PlayBook was RIM’s golden opportunity to change its brand issues in one swift blow. Instead, Pardy clung onto the old RIM values of enterprise solutions and business focus and what happened is that the PlayBook sent out mixed messages. To this day, a few weeks before the PlayBook launches, we still can’t figure out if this is a media consumption device or a business solution because RIM has been pushing its business importance while telling us that it can also play video games. We wish Pardy nothing but the best, but we can only hope that this is the beginning of a RIM internal shakeup that will counter the brutal beating the Blackberry brand has been taking since the launch of the iPhone.