Nokia Sees Entertainment as More Than a Marketing Tool

And the Exec in Charge of Content-Based Initiatives Sees Cellphones as More Than Hardware

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NEW YORK (Madison & Vine) -- To hear Tero Ojanpera, exec VP-entertainment and communities at Nokia, talk about the marketing possibilities cellphones and wireless devices offer you might think he actually forgets that they're used for talking.
Music legends Slash and Dave Stewart, Nokia's chief entertainment officer, Tero Ojanpera, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen at the Nokia skybox at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.
Music legends Slash and Dave Stewart, Nokia's chief entertainment officer, Tero Ojanpera, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen at the Nokia skybox at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Credit: The Recording Academy/ Wireimage.com

His enthusiasm for the marketing potential of cellphones and other wireless gadgets has him at the forefront of Nokia's new approach to entertainment marketing. He said the company, one of the world's largest cellphone providers, is now looking at the world of entertainment as a major revenue source rather than just another marketing tool.

"It's a new shift that has been in development for the past couple of years [at Nokia]," Mr. Ojanpera said. "The idea is that mobile devices have become personal computers and entertainment devices rather than just phones."

Mr. Ojanpera said the company's history of utilizing entertainment content has typically centered around marketing films, product-placement deals and distributing pre-loaded videos for major motion pictures such as "Spider-Man 3."

Old school entertaiment marketing
"That's the traditional way of using content and entertainment for marketing," Mr. Ojanpera said. "What we are trying to do is generate new revenues out of the content." That content includes music, movies and gaming content. Nokia provides gaming content for its N-Gage gaming community from developers such as EA. The marketer is also developing its own original gaming content as well.

Mr. Ojanpera refers to cellphones as the world's largest entertainment-distribution network and said in order to maintain an industry leadership position, Nokia had to start thinking about more than just making great hardware.

"Mobile phones are computers connected to the internet and it's hard to compete only on making great hardware products," Mr. Ojanpera said. "We decided that we need a new strategy where we offer services on top of these products. And that has created a new business model and revenue stream for the company."

And Nokia's partners as well. He said consumers and potential marketing partners need to look at Nokia as more than just a hardware provider.

"People should think about us as a music, gaming, video and TV-services provider," he said. "The industry is shifting and so are we. Entertainment is a natural part of people's lives now and it's not about passive consumption. If you get a nice piece of music or video you may want to share that with your friends. That's all about connecting people, and that's Nokia's tagline: 'Connecting People.'"

A 'new approach' with Dave Stewart
Nokia also has plans to connect with some heavy hitters in the entertainment industry as part of this shift in strategy, the first being musician, producer and songwriter Dave Stewart. Through its partnership with Mr. Stewart (of Eurythmics fame), the two will create The Nokia Artists' Advisory Council, which, according to a release from the company, is designed to help "create an artist friendly environment inside the company, ensuring the artists' point of view is represented in creating new content business paradigms."

"Getting an artist to promote our handset, that's the old world," Mr. Ojanpera said. "But getting them to promote our handset and in turn selling more music for that artist through the Nokia Music Store -- currently only available in the U.K. -- that's the new approach."

Nokia also announced the Comes With Music initiative with Universal Music Group International in December Damian Stathonikos, senior manager, communications entertainment and communities at Nokia Corp., said "Our Comes With Music initiative is a global one -- we haven't yet announced which specific markets we'll start with. You can expect to see more news around that in the coming months."

Streaming at the Grammy's
At this year's Grammy's, Nokia device owners outside the U.S. were able to stream video of behind-the-scenes events on the Nokia Video Center. Non-Nokia device owners outside the U.S. with browser-enabled smartphones could stream the video off of Medeo. "Users got a richer experience and were able to buy music from the Nokia Music Store," he said. "Live events and connecting people to these digital properties, that's part of the new approach to entertainment marketing."

Mr. Ojanpera would not discuss a specific dollar amount but said the company is making a sizeable investment into this new strategy.

Aside from the music store and the Grammy event there were no other projects Mr. Ojanpera could discuss at this point, but he said music and gaming are the two biggest opportunities the company is pushing forward on in the short term. "Mobile TV is developing at a slower pace, but it's starting to emerge as well," he said.