Motorola tenders brand challenge

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Geoffrey Frost is looking for more than just another ad campaign: he's searching for "nothing less than a world-changing brand idea."

Mr. Frost, VP-consumer communications for Motorola's Personal Communications Sector, along with several other top executives, has charged the three agencies that work on Motorola's advertising to come up with ideas for lifting the company's brand profile around the world (AA, July 31).

Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, handles Motorola's semiconductor business; McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, is responsible for consumer products within the Personal Communications Sector; and Ogilvy & Mather, New York, oversees online and direct marketing. At stake -- more than $400 million in spending globally.

Though Motorola has declined to call the process a "review," it's clear that any one of the three incumbent agencies is poised to land the entire account. Mr. Frost said Motorola is happy with all its agencies but "we need it all to add up."

The agencies are toiling on ideas that will showcase Motorola's technology leadership across diverse businesses, including personal communications, computing and consumer electronics; broadband communications; integrated electronics and smart components; network Internet solutions; semiconductors; and the commercial/government sector.

A TALL ORDER

Mr. Frost, who joined Motorola more than a year ago after leading brand strategy and advertising at Nike, said he believes he's challenged the agencies with a tall order.

"It's a really juicy problem," he laughed. "What we have decided is that the Motorola brand is one of the most underleveraged brands in the world, but it's an amazing company and an amazing brand."

Motorola ranks No. 49 on Interbrand's World's Most Valuable Brands Survey, down from No. 39 in 1999. The brand consultancy's 2000 study of 75 leading brands places archrivals Nokia at No. 5 and Ericsson at No. 32. However it's not the ranking but the brand value that's all-important, said Raymond Perrier, Interbrand's global brand valuation director.

STRENGTH WITH CUSTOMERS

"Value is based on how strong the brand is with the customers [business and consumer], how financially successful the business is and how important the brand is in driving the business," Mr. Perrier said.

Motorola, he said, actually increased its brand value this year by 22% and Ericsson declined by 47%. Nokia lifted its brand value by 86%. Mr. Perrier said Motorola can evolve its brand value by establishing a viable brand management structure that becomes a single point of contact for all brand matters and seeking to connect the company's disparate businesses in the public's mind.

Mr. Frost's goal? To make Motorola one of the 10 most valuable brands within two years.

Mr. Frost said he and other Motorola marketing executives including Jocelyn Carter-Miller, chief marketing officer, and Rich Foss, VP-director of global brand strategy, briefed the three agencies on the totality of the Motorola business in late July. Mr. Frost said the agencies will return to Motorola in early September to present their ideas.

FIGURING THE FUTURE OUT

"What we've challenged the agencies to do was to help us to figure out how to position Motorola as the company that has really figured out the future, and will be able to show the way to what the cool world of personal technology really looks like," he said.

The company's "Wings" campaign via McCann two years ago, exemplified how wireless technology liberates people, and was its last brand effort. The forthcoming global project, that Mr. Frost wants in the market sometime in the fourth quarter, will be much broader.

" `Wings' was very specifically around personal communications products. Obviously, we made the decision that it wasn't going to get us where we needed to go; this is a bigger assignment," he said.

Indeed, Mr. Frost said, the huge project will become the underpinnings for a unified Motorola brand. "This will be the determining, messaging architecture for everything we do as a corporation," he said. He added he expects the company to exceed its $400 million global advertising budget next year but declined to say by how much.

How will the campaign be executed? "We haven't really decided, but we are certainly going to come up with a single, shared point of focus of what the Motorola brand stands for," Mr. Frost said.

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