Ericsson taps Callenbach to fortify brand's image

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It used to be that cell phones were only for road warriors -- professionals crisscrossing the country or the world on important business. Now, as everyone has noticed, they've become ubiquitous, spawning a whole array of new services, networks and devices. As voice, data and Internet services converge, Paula Callenbach has the job of putting her brand front and center in the new wireless world order.

The 32-year-old Aussie, recently named director of brand marketing for Ericsson in North America, is charged with helping the Swedish telecom giant define its brand better in that key market, where it ranks No. 3 in wireless handsets after Nokia and Motorola.

FROM DOWN UNDER

Ms. Callenbach takes the new position, based at Ericsson's Raleigh, N.C., hub, after a six-year stint in her native Australia, where she most recently headed up the company's mobile phones business.

"We grew the brand from 9% brand awareness to 63% in Australia, and grew the market from a 7% share to a quarter of the market over four years," Ms. Callenbach said.

Ericsson's commitment to North America comes at a time of increased competition over new technologies and devices among the leading telecommunications companies that are developing and marketing them. Ericsson's focus on brand will result in a business-to-business push later this year by agency Publicis, London, targeting network operators and service providers, and in a global consumer effort by Y&R Advertising and Wunderman Cato Johnson, both New York. Both are units of Young & Rubicam.

"It's part of the growing communications business and the need for a stronger brand in this market," Ms. Callenbach explained, adding, "we would like to think North America will play an important part in the campaign, and we will be looking at developing a brand that is meaningful across all our offerings."

CONSUMER EXPERIENCE

Her previous consumer marketing experience is a plus. She worked in management consulting and as a market research specialist for DDB Worldwide in Melbourne. And she can count Unilever and Ford Motor Co. as two former clients.

Now conducting research on Ericsson's core equities, Ms. Callenbach is looking to crystallize its identity. "We need to be better at communicating our strengths about our integrated end-to-end solutions," she said. "I see what we really have to be doing is developing one strong consistent brand message in the marketplace."

When she's not in Raleigh getting used to her new home, Ms. Callenbach is globe-trotting back and forth to Ericsson's Stockholm headquarters and other offices participating in marketing meetings, speaking to employees and directing the agencies.

With a proven track record, Ms. Callenbach hopes her understanding of the industry and how Ericsson operates will help her direct brand efforts.

"I would like to start to see in the external communication, advertising, public relations, whatever, that if you come upon the Ericsson logo, you'll know who we are and what we stand for," she said.

She hopes to have that brand positioning in place by the end of this quarter.

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