“Step change” in marketing will position Nokia for a bright future

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Nokia’s launch of its debut Windows smartphone does not just mark a change of operating system but revealed an overhaul of its entire culture and approach to marketing.

The arrival of new CEO Stephen Elop and the announcement of Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft earlier this year were key drivers in what has become a complete makeover of the company’s marketing strategy.

Nokia is now shifting away from its more tradtional approach to marketing, with more budget being devoted to social media and digital than above the line campaigns.

John Nichols, Nokia’s UK marketing director, told Marketing Week that consumers will be able to instantly recognise that Nokia’s tone of voice has “dramatically changed”.

He adds: “People will go ‘wow, I can’t believe that’s Nokia’, the new campaign will make people surprised and delighted that Nokia is doing something this cool.”

The change in approach has not only revitalised what was quite a sober, corporate-looking brand, but it also seems to have energised its staff.

Nichols says one of his colleagues told him the other day that they are practically running to work every day as they feel Nokia is currently producing its “best ever” marketing campaigns.

Adam Johnson, head of brand and campaigns at Nokia UK, echoed his colleagues’ enthusiasm: “This is a step change in the way we work, it makes you want to work here. People are doing things here in marketing they would have never tried 18 months ago”.

Examples of such aforementioned experiments include a teaser campaign of two-second blip ads, which ran in the days preceding Lumia’s launch – “a media first” and something that would not have been allowed under the previous regime, says Johnson.

Nokia is also placing a huge emphasis on people and collaboration in its marketing communications, which Nichols says sets the company apart from its competitors.

Nichols says: “People pay lots of money for phones, they are like their life partners, they carry them everywhere, but they are being marketed in such a techy way. As an industry we should realise that cold is not cool. People – not consumers – is where we uniquely stand as a brand.”

“Connecting people” will always be Nokia’s strapline, says Johnson, despite the fact it was first written in the 1980s, but, perhaps coincidentally, the messaging has never been more relevant than now.

Another brave marketing move is Nokia’s choice not to invest in “static” media such as traditional print or outdoor advertising – the very same media in which telcos are amongst the biggest spenders – in order to focus on digital and experiential creative.

Nokia’s biggest rival Apple has proved that amibtious marketing is as essential to the launch of a new smartphone as the actual product itself. Intrigue alone led to the iPhone 4S selling more than 4 million units in three days, despite the fact that the device only contained minor improvements to its predecessor.

Investment in marketing is arguably more important for the launch of the Nokia Lumia range than it was the first iPhone. There’s nothing inherently “new” in the Lumia – although certainly a lot of differences to competitor devices – and Nokia has the added challenge of convincing loyal Apple or Android customers to try, let alone buy, the new device.

Marketing is key to Nokia’s future and thankfully the company has recognised this. The Lumia campaign is to be Nokia’s biggest marketing investment ever, with three to four times the advertising budget of previous launches devoted to it.

If Nokia had just released a new phone on Wednesday (26 October) it would have slipped dramatically and painfully to failure, but it didn’t. Nokia has outlined a clear vision for the future and creative that is almost the polar opposite to to anything the company has previously produced (colour! Flashing lights!).

The brand is revitalised, the staff are energised: Nokia is in the perfect position to turn around its fortunes and light up the mobile industry once again.

The Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 will be available in the UK from mid-November.

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