Digital Conference San Francisco 2012

Nokia: What We Learned from Our Lumia Video Mistake

Handset Marketer Wants to Be Judged Not on What Happened But How It Reacted

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Nokia learned a lesson in authenticity two weeks ago when tech blogs noticed that a demo video extolling the camera capabilities of the Lumia 920 phone was not shot by the phone but by a camera crew.

But Valerie Buckingham, U.S. head of marketing, said the company should be judged less by that mistake and more by how it reacted.

"It was a mistake, but these things are going to happen," she said to Ad Age 's Digital Conference in San Francisco. "What's important is what you do next. The next thing we did was immediately come clean."

"We did what a good friend does whey they screw up," she said. "You say 'hey this is a mistake, we didn't intend for this to happen and here's what we're going do about it.'" Nokia reached out to The Verge, which discovered the faked video, and offered a real demo.

Faked demo videos are part of the business, often shot to sell a product before the product itself exists and usually carrying a "simulated" disclaimer. Nokia's first mistake was not including that disclaimer. Its second mistake was thinking a simulated video was a good idea for the web in the first place.

While Ms. Buckingham wouldn't comment on the thought process around the Lumia 920 video, she said the company realizes its brand is constantly dissected by users, enthusiasts and journalists. The challenge is how to participate in an authentic way.

"I think we've learned that it is super critical as a marketer to give up the desire but also the illusion that you are in control," she said. "Your brand is built in places you're not. The question is how can we contribute and build real friendships?"

Ms. Buckingham emphasized that Nokia is staking its future in the U.S. on the device, a Windows Phone that looks and functions very differently from the two dominant smartphone platforms, Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

The marketing going forward will focus heavily on that device and its features, such as Pure View, a bundle of image technologies that were promoted in the video. Nokia will compete not just with Apple and Google, but also with HTC which is unveiling similar, colorful Windows Phone and with coming phones from powerhouse Samsung.

"We are going to build our brand on this product," she said. "You are going to see us talk about the amazing aspects of this product, and it's time to switch."

Here's the video The Verge posted outlining the mistake.