Motorola's mandate: develop digital image

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With Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, aboard as its new global agency, Motorola plans to barrel full steam ahead on a brand effort to present a unified image across its disparate businesses.

The stakes are particularly high for the No. 2 wireless handset marketer. For starters, the technology giant faces an intensely competitive communications landscape in which older, entrenched brands are pitted against newcomers with buzz such as Nokia as well as leaner, no-name upstarts.

"Motorola is one of the household names in wireless communications and it has been for a long time," said Jeffrey Kagan, an independent telecommunications industry analyst, "but in the last few years, there's been a complete restructuring of the industry, intense competition and intense demand. . . . Motorola got lulled into a false sense of security."

The company hopes to debut a new image in November at the earliest, but a campaign across all media is more likely to be launched in January. Executives have not finalized spending for the effort, which is likely to exceed the estimated $400 million in advertising the Personal Communication Services unit spent last year.

NO CONFLICT WITH IBM

Ogilvy, while facing a huge challenge, is considered well-suited to the task because of its experience on the vastly complex IBM Corp. account.

However, Motorola and the agency said IBM is not a conflict.

"This whole exercise was about how do we find something that all of these individual stories can add up to," said Richard Foss, VP-director, brand marketing and design, referring to the agency review.

Motorola markets a diverse array of products and services ranging from cellular handsets, to pagers and digital set-top boxes.

While Motorola executives were open to the possibility of more than one agency running its business, with one shop taking the lead, it became clear during the review that Ogilvy's comprehensive approach across all media, even extending to public and investor relations, "put all the pieces together," Mr. Foss added.

More than three years ago, Motorola got caught flatfooted as the marketplace shifted from cellular systems to digital. "It learned some very painful lessons during the fumble," Mr. Kagan said, adding, "now the marketplace is changing from voice to data and the question is whether Motorola is going to make that leap."

`ON THE RIGHT TRACK'

Motorola's selection of Ogilvy, Mr. Kagan said, would seem to put it on the right track. "Motorola's not going to go away. . . . They need to come up with a master brand strategy and then they need to be able to create a new category and lead in it . . . it's the wireless/data/broadband category."

The assignment followed a review of Motorola's three roster shops (AA, Sept. 18). Ogilvy sibling shop OgilvyOne handled online and direct marketing; Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, was responsible for the company's semiconductor business; and McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, created advertising for its Personal Communications Sector unit.

Over the past two years, Motorola tried to shed its stodgy, buttoned-down image and has made strides to become more consumer-friendly and customer-focused. Last year, Motorola embarked on a new design focus, opening design centers in Boynton Beach, Fla.; Milan; San Francisco; and Singapore to develop new-product concepts and contemporize design. The company also pared its portfolio of subbrands in the PCS unit to four -- Acompli, TalkAbout, TimePort and V. -- each targeted to a different consumer psychographic. Motorola spent $20 million last year on consumer and design research, Mr. Foss said.

Motorola will need to move quickly to establish brand leadership in mobile commerce, location-based wireless services and broadband entertainment delivery solutions. Competitors -- including Sony Corp., Ericsson, IBM and Microsoft Corp. -- are looking to stake their claims in the unfolding digital arena.

The bottom line?

"Motorola could own the space if it cracks the code on getting the message out to the customer about what the industry and marketplace will look like," said Mr. Kagan. "It has to be a thought leader in the industry."

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