BlackBerry wants you to shill in return for prizes

At least it's transparent.

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Let's say you're in charge of marketing BlackBerry phones. You don't have nearly as much cachet as you did in BlackBerry's heyday, and all the social media buzz tends to surround the latest Galaxy or iPhone. What do you do? If you're TCL, it's simple: turn the fans into marketers. It's launching a BlackBerry Smartphone Fan League that rewards the faithful for sharing social network posts, creating original posts about their phones, filling out surveys and recruiting more into their fold. Participants earn points they can use to enter weekly and monthly contests, and they'll also have access to closed beta tests for new features.

The league is currently available in BlackBerry's home turf of Canada as well as the US and UK.

It's hard to shake the slight whiff of desperation in this move: when TCL reportedly sold just 850,000 BlackBerry phones last year, it needs whatever boost it can get. And it's bound to feel a little crass when you clutter your friends' feeds with advertising. At the same time, the company is both keenly aware of BlackBerry's loyalty and is being transparent about its methods and goals. There have been far, far shadier marketing tactics in the past.

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