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Nortel campaign aims to redefine networking

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Nortel Networks last month introduced a global ad campaign, its first major advertising since Lauren Flaherty took over as CMO in May 2006. The effort aims to redefine the telecommunications company's role in an increasingly connected network environment.

The integrated campaign, called "Hyperconnectivity," was developed by McCann Worldgroup San Francisco, which was named Nortel's agency of record last fall.

It includes print, online and out-of-home advertising. The budget was undisclosed.

"There is an exponential demand on networks to be connected—not just person to person, but device to device," Flaherty said. "Hyperconnectivity is the marketplace challenge and the marketplace opportunity."

One of Flaherty's first moves after joining Nortel from IBM Corp. was to conduct a global brand audit of the perception of Nortel among its customers,employees, analysts and business partners.

"For a couple of years, the adjectives before Nortel were 'beleaguered' or 'troubled,' " Flaherty said, referring to difficulties the company faced earlier this decade, including effects from the downturn in the telecommunications industry, an accounting scandal and senior executive turnover.

'A new day and a new Nortel'

"This campaign points to a new day and a new Nortel, with the business moving forward."

"Hyperconnectivity" describes an increasingly connected world with millions of devices and integrated networks. It encompasses person-to-person, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication.

"We want people to understand that they have a partner that can help them navigate through the complexity," Flaherty said.

Nortel is focusing its R&D efforts on three key areas as part of its effort to support "Hyperconnectivity": 4G mobile broadband, carrier Ethernet and unified communications.

"Nortel is an industry leader in this new era of communications that promises a rate of technology innovation far surpassing any other era in recent history," said Mike Zafirovski, Nortel's president-CEO, in a presentation to investors last month. "Hyperconnectivity is happening today. To businesses, this can mean massive productivity gains, new ways of conducting business and even new revenue sources."

Rob Whiteley, senior analyst-enterprise networking at Forrester Research, said Nortel faces some brand challenges with its new positioning. "Nortel is known as a networking company with a strong voice heritage," he said. "They are also known as an engineering company. They do both of those very well."

However, Whiteley said, "We have moved beyond voice. Networking is all about collaboration these days—how do I connect people and applications so that everyone is interacting? The challenge is that Nortel's brand doesn't extend that far."

Whiteley, who is familiar with the new campaign, said he believes Nortel is doing a good job positioning itself as a player in an environment where the network is thought of as an intelligent platform.

"If you're successful in positioning yourself in this way, you'd better be one of the biggest vendors," he said. "Nortel is really the only one with the size, breadth, depth and now the messaging to actually meet Cisco in the network marketplace."

To communicate its new positioning, Nortel launched a fully integrated ad campaign that extends its "Business made simple" tagline and value proposition.

Ads, which are running in daily newspapers and IT trades and on Web sites, show a complex array of networked devices, including cell phones, laptops, PDAs, MP3 players—even automobiles and appliances. The copy reads, "It's a hyperconnected world and complexity is running rampant."

In the ads, Nortel describes how its networking experience, new technologies and industry partnerships make it a valuable partner to help businesses navigate through this complex environment.

A new Web site, at www.hyperconnectivity.com, features white papers, online video, product demonstrations and customer case studies about Nortel's products and services.

Nortel is also starting to explore the use of social networking and online communities, Flaherty said.

In addition to rolling out the new ad campaign, Flaherty has accomplished other goals during her first year at Nortel.

"We really have tight alignment across Nortel today, across all of our strategy, messaging and across all of our regions and business units," she said. "That is a challenge for any CMO, and today we have really powerful, well-orchestrated alignment."

Another achievement is tighter integration with sales, which has been accomplished through operational reviews with sales staff and close collaboration between marketing and sales.

"[Sales] knows every bit of the campaign day by day, week by week, and what we want to do from a revenue point of view. We are hard-wired to the sales engine," Flaherty said.

As a complement, Flaherty has enhanced the marketing department's capabilities through new hires in the areas of operations, performance management and segmentation.

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