Commentary by Jonah Bloom

How Motorola Tapped Fashion, Design To Win Market Share

Handset Giant Gives A Lesson in Effective Holistic Marketing

By Published on .

When Advertising Age named JetBlue its marketer of the year last year, some readers groused about the choice, protesting that the
Jonah Bloom, executive editor of Advertising Age.
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JetBlue Named Ad Age Marketer of the Year

embryonic airline's success had more to do with the product than the marketing.

Crucial link
They missed the point of the JetBlue story, namely that the product and the marketing are inextricably linked. JetBlue CEO David Neelman, a natural salesman, involved his marketing team early enough in the airline's development that they were able to influence significant decisions -- the choice of leather seats, live TV and Terra Blue chips, for example.

Those product decisions were parlayed into actionable advertising and smart media relations, and became the tangible manifestation of a customer experience that turns JetBlue fliers into vocal proponents of the brand. In choosing JetBlue, Ad Age awarded a holistic approach that recognized the value of involving marketers in product development.

Motorola's tale
The skeptical letters, however, left us wondering how many marketers at other companies have no such influence but are instead left to simply put the lipstick on the pig? I put that question to some senior marketers -- all of us trapped on the same cruise ship at the recent Marketing Forum, an inspiring, hard-working conference. The first two said that, sadly, they had a very limited influence over their companies'

products. The third pleaded seasickness and dashed for the deck. Then I found Motorola's Stuart Redsun, who shared a more positive tale.

Having long dominated mobile-phone sales, Motorola fell back as Finnish giant Nokia stormed the market in the late '90s. By 1999, Nokia had almost a 50% market share (and a lead of more than 15 share points over Motorola). It was about then that Motorola decided to hire Geoffrey Frost, Redsun's boss, away from Nike to head its global marketing.

A quiet revolution
Frost began a quiet revolution in product development. He persuaded management to think of phones as fashion accessories, not pieces of engineering. Marketing began working with product designers to devise new phones that would attract plaudits not just in the trade press but in GQ and Esquire as well. At least one new design -- the V70 with its swiveling cover -- was too radical to be a mainstream best-seller but, like a concept car for an automaker, sent a clear signal to phone retailers and consumers about Motorola's intentions and it attracted a lot of press.

Then Motorola and Ogilvy & Mather came up with the "Moto" campaign. A major departure from previous work, it gave the brand a youthful quality it had lacked and advanced personal style as the theme of Motorola products. An ingenious, fully integrated campaign, with a host of clever media placements to encourage

consumers to interact with the brand online, it also incorporated the creation of materials targeted at young sales associates in phone retail outlets.

Gaining ground
It appears to have worked. According to Raymond James' quarterly Wireless Handsets Survey, Motorola has consistently gained share at point of sale in recent years. The last report noted that Motorola phones were two of the top three most-recommended handsets at retail. More significantly still, Motorola has hauled itself back into a co-leadership position alongside Nokia in the U.S.

Could such a remarkable turnaround be attributed to smart marketing? Absolutely. Was the smart marketing solely the product of the marketing department? Absolutely not. It had to involve the management, the engineers, the designers and many others. Those who can break down the silos can achieve real change. The others will be left to pen sour-grapes missives.

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