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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Oct. 18

Stocks in this article: CNDOBBRYJPMSWKC

4. BlackBerry's Bad Ad

If BlackBerry (BBRY) wants to prove that it's not dead yet then why is it wasting money on ink-stained tombstones?

The beleaguered Canadian device-maker published an open letter in 30 media outlets across nine countries Tuesday in order to reassure investors and customers about its ability to remain a going concern. The cost of Blackberry's extensive campaign to merely trumpet its existence was undisclosed. However, full-page advertisements like the ones Blackberry placed this week in the The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal generally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a shot.

Oh, by the way, last week Blackberry announced it was laying off about 300 head office employees as part of a broader cost-cutting plan that will reduce its workforce by about 40%. The company plans to eliminate 4,500 jobs over the coming months.

"You've no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry. You're probably wondering what they mean for you as one of the tens of millions of users who count on BlackBerry every single day. We have one important message for you: You can continue to count on BlackBerry," started the ad, which also touted the company's "substantial cash on hand" and "debt free" balance sheet.

Yeah, we don't get it either.

If you ask us, CEO Thorsten Heins should have saved the money he spent on these ridiculous one-time ads for long-term severance packages for soon-to-be laid-off employees. Lord knows those workers could use the money to buy Apple (AAPL) iPhones and MacBooks to aid them in their job searches.

Then again, the letter was signed by "The Blackberry Team" as opposed to Heins, so it seems fairly obvious that even if the S.S. Blackberry sails on, its captain is jumping ship.

Said differently, imagine if John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence on behalf of "The Founders Team" instead of boldly affixing his own name to the document. Would you step up and join that revolution?

We didn't think so.

Of course, we already had a pretty clear idea that Thorsten wouldn't be sticking around for the battle well prior to the ad campaign. Shares of Blackberry are down over 30% this year to around $8 and the company is currently weighing purchase offers.

Last Friday, for example, a report circulated that founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis was considering a potential takeover bid to compete with the $4.7 billion offer made by Fairfax Financial in September. Private equity player Cerebus Capital Management and, as of Thursday, Lenovo, are also reportedly considering buying the company.

"Whoever is interested in BlackBerry understands that the company has world class products and services. These are products and services that customers can continue to count on," said Frank Boulben, the company's chief marketing officer, regarding the ads.

We trust they won't continue to count on such stupid and flat-out wasteful spending as well. What's next, buying another private jet?

Oops. Our bad. They already did that this summer.

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