Motorola sexes up its cell sell with Razr

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Sexy as it may look, John Jackson hates to take out his Motorola Razr V3 in public. "I get harassed," Mr. Jackson, a senior analyst for the Yankee Group, said. Passersby ask questions. Some German travelers even made a point of showing him a Razr ad in a foreign edition of GQ.

But Motorola, hoping to put the ghost of Christmas past behind them and believing it has designed the mobile-phone equivalent of the iPod, couldn't be happier. "It's the most iconic phone line in a decade," said Geoff Kehoe, senior director-brand communication, Motorola. "This is an opportunity to deliver a brand icon message for Motorola." If the marketing delivers, it is also an opportunity to prove that a phone can retail for around $700 and become as much of a status symbol as a watch or even a car.

Razr's marketing began with design, personally shepherded through the company by Chief Marketing Officer Geoffrey Frost. PR efforts drove early press, starting with a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Scandinavian home turf of market leader Nokia. It was followed in Chicago by a conference for analysts kicked off by a session in a night-club like room rocking to the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started."

In the U.S. where cellphone service providers are the driving force, Motorola used the Internet to reach out to early adopters and signed up 75,000 for more product information when it became available. The biggest marketing tool early on was word of mouth, Mr. Kehoe said. "A significant number of consumers were pre-sold and taken out of the market," he said.

This week, the Razr blitz moves from influencer outreach to traditional media; the "batwing" logo will be plastered over the VH1 symbol on the Viacom-owned cable channel.

TV is centered on a spot created by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Spots will run on lifestyle cable channels, such as MTV.

At the same time, in an unusual coordination of efforts with a service provider, Cingular breaks a campaign deviating from its price- and minutes-based ads. The spot, from Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York and Atlanta, highlights the phone's thinness.

Razr's price has been bandied about at as much as $1,200, but Cingular is offering the phone for $499 with a two-year contract.

Motorola declined to specify the marketing spending on the Razr V3 rollout, but the company spent $25.1 million in marketing in 2003 and $14.8 million for the first seven months of 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

contributing: normandy madden

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