Alicia Keys Gets the Axe From BlackBerry

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been laying off employees left and right in a desperate attempt to keep its head above water, and apparently not even celebrities are immune to getting the axe from the company. On Thursday, the struggling smartphone maker announced that it will be letting global creative director and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys go, as they have completed their one-year partnership.

“BlackBerry and Alicia Keys have completed our year-long collaboration,” the company said in an emailed statement to CNBC. “We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with such an incredibly talented and passionate individual.”

Hiring pop stars as creative directors has become a popular practice for wireless companies. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has Shakira and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has Jennifer Lopez to help promote the companies’ products and brands.

Keys was hired by CEO Thorsten Heins last January to help BlackBerry promote its BlackBerry 10 operating system and line of smartphones. Those devices proved to be extremely unpopular, and since then, BlackBerry stock has tanked, the company fired Heins, instated new CEO John Chen, and has begun a massive turnaround effort. Chen is moving the company’s focus away from the consumer market, where it has struggled, toward the government and business markets, where BlackBerry has proven more successful.

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