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LOS ANGELES BlackBerry and AT&T hosted a U.S. launch party for the new Torch 9800, which the brand is hyping as the first smart phone with a full Qwerty BlackBerry keyboard and large touch-screen display. In keeping with the brand's tradition of large launch events, the party drew a targeted crowd to a custom-built environment. Geoff McMurdo, vice president of marketing for North America at BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, oversaw the event, tapping Harrison & Shriftman for the production.
The party took over a space in the building at 5900 Wilshire Blvd., which was completely gutted and reinvented. Harrison & Shriftman arranged for the walls and ceilings to be repainted and remodeled and brought in decor elements, “from the carpet to the drapes and everything in between—furniture, lighting, sound, and even custom soaps,” said Harrison & Shriftman event producer Brett Alligood. “The Torch is the most technologically advanced BlackBerry to date, and we wanted to create a space that celebrates this milestone. We started with a clean, sleek, black design and added multiple lighting installations to mimic the device’s innovation. The launch event is all about the wow factor.” The build-out took three days.
Uplit hedging marked the way into the party, past an arrivals carpet set up near Wilshire. Vivid, programmed, color-changing LED tubes illuminated the entrance to the party space above a gift table where guests could pick up their new smart phones. Inside, staffers in suspenders and black T-shirts marked “Geek Squad” roamed to tell guests about the features of their new BlackBerries while they snacked on comfort favorites like grilled cheese and sliders from Kathleen Sacchi.
A huge LED wall lit up the room with BlackBerry imagery. Blue lighting illuminated furniture from within, and logo gobos decked the floor and walls. And a photo station from MVS Studio mimicked the look of a smart phone device.
The event included DJ sets from Future the Prince and a performance from hip-hop artist Drake, which began after 9 p.m. in an adjacent space revealed to guests. Some in the crowd appropriately snapped stage photos with their new phones. The performer announced, “I go by the name of Drake. They call me a BlackBerry advocate. I never leave home without it.”