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Alicia Keys + BlackBerry Part Ways

Alicia Keys
Mark Metcalfe, Getty Images

Alicia Keys assumed the role of Creative Director at BlackBerry last January and after a year in the role, she and the increasingly troubled smartphone maker have parted ways. The ‘Girl on Fire’ officially wraps her stint in the post on Jan. 31.

It appears to be a mutual split, with the company saying that it “completed our year-long collaboration with Keys.”

The singer came on board as the company launched its BlackBerry 10 operating system, even though she sent a tweet from an iPhone days after her new gig was announced, causing her to say she was hacked. That was perhaps an omen for how things would go.

Lots of corporations sign celebs and pop stars as creative directors, which is fancy-speak for endorser or spokesperson. Justin Bieber offered to fill the role for BlackBerry years ago, but they declined, in a move that they may regret. Lady Gaga was named creative director at the also-beleaguered Polaroid and even promoted camera sunglasses at a trade show in 2011, but the products have never fully launched and that deal seems to have fallen apart.

Tech companies are not the only ones that hire celeb ambassadors. Austin Mahone is now a “digital strategist” for Aquafina Flavor Splash products and Nicki Minaj hawks liquor.

Initially, Keys was hands-on with her appointment, namely with the ‘Keep Moving’ project, which encouraged fans to send photos of themselves for inclusion in one of her videos, and the BlackBerry Scholars Program, aimed at women studying science and math.

It was a strong start, but things quickly faltered.

The company is still having financial trouble, as the BlackBerry 10 phones did not take off in the marketplace. The company is also chopping 40 percent of its staff.

While Keys and the company can say that their partnership has run its course, it’s clear that the company is trying to keep its head above water and a creative director is an easily cut, non-essential post at this juncture.

Next: See Alicia Keys' Best Black Dresses

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