Nokia, Wieden & Kennedy Part Ways

Split Comes as Flailing Mobile Giant Drops 'AOR' Model

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Nokia and its global agency of record since 2007, Wieden & Kennedy, London, are going their separate ways, according to a joint statement from the companies. Going forward, the mobile giant -- which has been outpaced by competitors -- plans to stop using an "AOR" model.

"The last six months has marked an important shift in Nokia's business and marketing strategy," a Nokia spokesman said via email. "This has naturally resulted in us continuing to evolve the relationships with our wide roster of agency partners. While it would be inappropriate to speculate about future plans, I can say that moving forward, we plan to move away from an 'agency of record' model and leverage our wide network of agency partners."

"We leave this partnership with tremendous respect for the Nokia brand," Neil Christie, managing director of W+K London, said in a statement.

The split comes amid serious turmoil for the largest global handset manufacturer, which is quickly losing market share to smartphone leaders Apple and Google. Low-cost Chinese cellphone makers are imposing a threat to its business too.

In addition to rethinking its agency relationships, Nokia is making changes to its marketing suite. It recently installed a new marketing chief, Jerri Devard, with an extensive resume of U.S. marketing experience as well as its first non-Finnish CEO. Nokia, to date, hasn't focused its ad budgets stateside; that absence may have played a role in iPhone and Android -- both devices with major marketing backing -- gaining ground. In April, Nokia launched a campaign push for a new U.S. handset dubbed Astound that it hopes will help it reclaim ground lost in the market.

Nokia is a top-100 global advertiser with $278.6 million in measured media spending in 2009, according to Ad Age Data Center.

Other roster agencies such as R/GA did not immediately comment on the status of the Interpublic agency's relationship with the Finnish handset maker. Translation Advertising, which is set to spinoff from Interpublic, works with Nokia, and WPP's Wunderman remains a roster agency for Nokia, according to a spokesman.

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