Ericsson regroups for global push

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After a year of management churn, corporate restructuring and extreme volatility in the telecommunications sector, Ericsson Mobile Phones is planning a global brand campaign with Publicis, London, at the helm of the effort.

To head the global brand mission in North America, Ericsson appointed Paula Callenbach director of brand marketing. She most recently was general manager of the company's Mobile Phones Business Group in Australia.

Ms. Callenbach's new assignment involves integrating all Ericsson's business units in North America under a single umbrella brand.

"We'll be looking at developing a brand that is meaningful across all of our offerings, including consumer [offerings]," Ms. Callenbach said.

With the appointment in Sweden this summer of Torbjorn Nilsson, senior-VP, marketing and strategic business development, Ericsson appears committed to marketing.

The beleaguered Swedish telco power holds the No. 3 position in wireless handsets both globally and in North America; Nokia and Motorola are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.


Apart from well-received consumer marketing efforts in 1998 and this year, Ericsson has struggled to accelerate the pace of product introductions; deploy sophisticated Internet services and solutions; and compete head-to-head with Nokia, its more sure-footed rival, and networking giants like Cisco Systems.

The new brand effort marks Ericsson's first attempt to extend an integrated global message into the U.S. and Canada. Ms. Callenbach will work with Swedish counterparts and brand directors in other regions to develop the global brand.

"We would like to think North America will play an important part, but it's certainly not the only market," she said.

Publicis' New York office is likely to oversee North American duties, but no final decision had been made by press time.


Ms. Callenbach said Y&R Advertising, New York, will continue to handle Ericsson's consumer advertising in North America. Parent Young & Rubicam's Media Edge, New York, will continue to handle media buying globally.

Ericsson has worked with Publicis from its Stockholm corporate headquarters since 1980. The company will conduct extensive research and doesn't expect to launch the brand strategy until the second half of 2000.

Executives declined to confirm a budget for the effort.

Ericsson posted nearly $20 million in media expenditures through June in the U.S., according to Competitive Media Reporting; it spent nearly $38 million in 1998.

Mark Lowenstein, VP-wireless practice at the Yankee Group, a telecommunications research organization, said Ericsson's brand moves make sense.

"I think it's driven partly by the need for a stronger brand in [North America] now," he said. "Ericsson has lost some of its luster in handsets."

Mr. Lowenstein said Ericsson needs to communicate an Internet strategy, both on the fixed and mobile sides of its business. The data networking and Internet space is filled with larger players: Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks and Cisco are each moving aggressively into the telecom networking arena.

"Ericsson kind of lacks that level of profile," he said.

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