Bloomberg is reporting that the city of Dallas is sending 400 iPhones to CEOs across the country in an effort to get them to relocate their businesses to Dallas. The Dallas Regional Chamber is footing the $250,000 bill for the scheme. Says Bloomberg, “Each phone contains an application with customized information about the city and messages from Leppert and other CEOs. The phone also comes with contact numbers and links to a Web site with additional information. … The city plans to follow up delivery of the phones with calls and emails from the mayor and others.”
Initially, I thought this giveaway was insane. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it might be genius. First, you only need a success rate of .2 percent for this program to pay for itself. Second, the program is so goofy that it’s sure to be picked up by news outlets all over. Essentially, you’ve bought a national ad — in newspapers and on TV — for $250k.
Here’s a guess, though. If I’m the CEO of Behemoth Corp., chances are I’ve got a BlackBerry. BlackBerries have traditionally been the smart phone of choice for big business because they work better with exchange servers, and IT guys are more comfortable with them (even though the iPhone is clearly superior). So I get this iPhone. I’m not going to carry two phones. I think it’s cute. I give it to my assistant (because my kids and wife already have iPhones). My assistant, who also uses a BlackBerry, uses his new iPhone strictly for sexting and playing Super Mario Cart or whatever. Then one day he gets a call from Mayor Leppert. Um, what happens next?