Motorola CMO Makes Sure Brand Evolves as Fast as Consumers Do

Q&A: Keller Explains Why Constantly Changing Is Only Way to Stay Relevant

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

Kenneth C. "Casey" Keller Jr. sits in the middle of the rough-and-tumble world of cellphone marketing.
Motorola CMO Kenneth C. 'Casey' Keller
Motorola CMO Kenneth C. 'Casey' Keller

As chief marketing officer for Motorola, Mr. Keller faces stiff competition from Japanese manufacturers LG and Samsung, as well as smart-phone maker BlackBerry and that fellow Steve Jobs with his iPhone. But Mr. Keller also must defend against Motorola's chief rival, Nokia, which is morphing into an ad seller and a media company.

That said, Mr. Keller, 45, has the credentials to take America's leading cellphone manufacturer to the next level. Formerly chairman-CEO of Heinz Italy, he has sold package goods from ketchup to cake mixes at Procter & Gamble Co. Here he talks with Advertising Age West Coast Editor Alice Z. Cuneo about mastering marketing.

Advertising Age: Is anyone really mastering marketing today?

Mr. Keller: Marketing is evolving pretty rapidly, and mastering marketing is not a point in time. You have to keep changing and evolving your strategy. At the end of the day, the consumer, the people we're trying to talk to, are changing their habits. If you as a marketer don't keep adjusting and changing constantly, you're not going to be relevant. An average 20-year-old today spends six hours consuming some type of digital media. But in that time, they consume eight and a half hours of content. You've got people multitasking, talking on the cellphone, looking at the computer, maybe browsing the internet while they're looking at a magazine.

Ad Age: What keeps you and your peers up at night?

Mr. Keller: In addition to the consumer, we're constantly trying to justify the investment we're making in marketing. What metrics do we have to show that the marketing investment is working effectively to drive sales volume? How good are we at really understanding the marketing impact of our investment and really shifting money to the things that drive our business faster and harder?

Ad Age: Given blogs and other social media and the quick vocal response from consumers, do marketers have as free a hand in building brands and making claims today?

Mr. Keller: Today, we put up a new commercial on the networks, and we will have within a day or two, 20,000 people giving responses to it, telling us what they like, don't like. To me, the new world is you've got to think about that two-way street, got think about instant feedback, and you've got to be open enough to use it to adjust how you're creating that dialogue because now your consumer is telling you how they really feel in real time.

Ad Age: What's the next iconic brand?

Mr. Keller: The internet is creating a whole new set of iconic brands, the Yahoos, the Googles. The mobile-wireless environment is going to create a whole new set of brands -- brands around devices, brands around the experiences, and also brands around the way people are connecting and researching on the internet. You'll see new brands around this mobile world, hopefully some from Motorola, because we are thinking about creating distinct brand experiences underneath the parent brand Motorola in the mobile space in the future.

Ad Age: Nokia is evolving into an ad-selling media company. What is Motorola doing along these lines?

Mr. Keller: What we've been trying to do is also get into applications and experiences beyond just the initial (making phone calls). In terms of music, we want to play in the applications and music-service component of that. In China, we have our own Moto Music service with millions of subscribers. We're looking at similar approaches in other markets. In the U.S. our operator-carrier partners have been trying to develop their own services and their own experiences. We work closely with them to make sure we can enable those experiences on the devices.

Ad Age: Do consumers want ads on mobile phones?

Mr. Keller: The bottom line is people would be willing to take advertising content on the mobile phone if it is not intrusive or interfering with the experience they are having on the device. Over time, advertising models will develop and will be effective.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that LG and Samsung are Japanese marketers. Both marketers are, in fact, Korean companies.
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