Scully and Mulder use real Nokia phones when they're chasing aliens in TV land; in reality, wireless technology hasn't quite found a way to transmit messages to space. But thanks to product placement, Nokia's point is abundantly clear: If you want the most powerful wireless phone in the universe, choosy agents choose Nokia.
The claim isn't all hyperbole. Nokia's newest 6100 series phones have leapfrogged the competition in capabilities and battery life. In fact, the high-end 6160 model is nicknamed the "Scully," in slang recognition of its superiority over other models.
AT&T PITCHES IN
Anecdotal evidence shows, and Nokia admits without releasing specific numbers, to a demand not before seen.
To help push the phones, Nokia paired with AT&T Wireless for an aggressive co-branded and co-funded $35 million ad campaign exclusively plugging the Nokia 6160 as the phone to use.
Nokia's ad agency of record is Richards Group, Dallas, but the "Digital One Rate" advertising was created by AT&T Wireless agency Foote, Cone & Belding, New York.
RAVES FROM CUSTOMERS
Wireless phone-toting executives such as Larry Levine, VP-advertising for Internet company Flycast, are raving about the 6160.
"I used to carry a pocketful of batteries for my [Motorola] Star-TAC phone because I was always running out of power. I haven't run out yet with [the Nokia 6160]," he said.
According to Nokia, the phone has 14 days of standby time and 5 hours of talk time.
Mr. Levine has gone so far as to require any Flycast employee using a wireless phone paid for by the company to switch to the Nokia 6160 and the AT&T flat-rate plan.
In some parts of the country, there are even reports of product shortages; some customers must wait three to four weeks for a phone. Jane Zweig, senior VP for Herschel Shosteck Associates, which tracks the wireless market, was driving to work one day this month when she happened to hear a retailer's commercial touting a sure lure: Nokia 6160 phones actually in stock.
SHARE RISING BEFORE 6010 DEBUT
Nokia's market share was on the rise even before the May introduction of the 6160. In the first three months of 1998, the marketer's share of the $25 billion marketrose 6 percentage points to 24%, from 18% at the end of '97, according to Shosteck data.
Rival Motorola's market share dropped to 41% in `97 from 53% in 1996.
"Motorola fell further behind this year because it wasn't putting out digital phones," Ms. Zweig said.
Nokia, a Finnish company that also provides wireless telecommunications equipment for service providers, began selling cellular phones in the U.S. 14 years ago, but only began selling digital products in this country in 1994.
Last year, handsets-which include cellular as well as digital phones-comprised nearly 51% of Nokia's annual revenue.
RISE OF DIGITAL
The rise of digital, a technology superior to analog, has only fueled Nokia's success. In 1997, 12.3 million cellular phones were sold, compared with 6.5 personal communication services phones, according to consultancy Strategis Group. However, Strategis predicts 1998 sales of only 8.7 million cellular phones and 14.8 million PCS phones.
"This is the first year that digital will beat cellular sales," said Kent Olson, consultant for Strategis Group.
And, he noted, digital phones will continue to eclipse analog.
NOKIA GOING GREAT GUNS
"Of course, analog [cellular] phones will always be around, but digital sales will rocket past them. And, in digital right now, Nokia is going great guns."
For agent Scully and other movers and shakers of the universe, Nokia is the weapon of choice.