Finnish mining engineer Fredrik Idestam founded Nokia in 1865 as a wood-pulp mill in southern Finland. The company evolved through several industries?including paper, chemicals and rubber?before settling into the telecommunications market in the second half of the 20th century. In the 1960s, Nokia's electronics department began researching radio transmission; through the next 30 years, Nokia established itself as a global leader in digital communications technology.
Before 1992, the Nokia name was used primarily for corporate marketing, with only a few consumer-marketing applications stemming from its involvement in the home electronics business. In 1992, however, Nokia underwent far-reaching change: The company named Jorma Ollila president-CEO and simultaneously divested itself of its non-core operations, such as its cable and TV businesses, in a move to focus on the telecommunications market. The company divided into two main operating groups, one focused on networks and the other on mobile phones.
At the same time, Nokia undertook an active management of its brand, including agreeing on "Connecting people" as an overall corporate slogan and hiring Sek Grey Oy, Helsinki, as its agency of record for Europe.
While the company's brand was gaining strength in Europe and Asia, Nokia sought to establish itself in the U.S. via large advertising campaigns, promotional marketing, product placements in movies and TV programs, and event marketing. In the mid-1990s, Nokia began to pump more money into its U.S. ad budget as the cellular phone shifted from primarily a business tool to a mass-market consumer device.
In 1996, Nokia launched a print campaign incorporating the tagline, "Everything. Everywhere." The campaign was developed by Sek Grey Oy and ran in publications that covered Europe, including Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Newsweek, Time and The Wall Street Journal Europe.
In the U.S., Nokia became the sponsor of the Sugar Bowl college football event and leveraged that sponsorship through promotions. Before the 1997 Sugar Bowl, for example, Nokia sponsored a national promotion that culminated in a halftime contest giving three people a chance to win $1 million by throwing a football at a designated button on a 15-foot inflatable cellular phone.
By 1998, the Nokia brand had gained worldwide acceptance, and the company launched several important marketing campaigns aimed at bolstering its brand strength. The company started off the year by running a corporate spot during the NFL's Super Bowl XXXII via the Richards Group, Dallas, that starred the comedian Drew Carey.
Nokia also joined with AT&T Wireless to promote AT&T Wireless' flat-rate Digital One Rate wireless service plan. Nokia's 6160 series phones were featured exclusively in the ads, which were created by AT&T Wireless agency Foote, Cone & Belding, New York.
Nokia continued its marketing efforts in 1999 when it launched a U.S. marketing push estimated at between $20 million and $25 million. The campaign included TV and print ads, product placement and national promotions, and it represented Nokia's largest-ever marketing effort. The TV commercials and print ads, created by the Richards Group, emphasized the depth and breadth of Nokia's mobile-phone product line. TV spots began during the 1999 Emmy Awards show, at which all winners and presenters were given the company's sleek, chrome-colored 8800 series phone. Nokia also placed free-standing inserts in Sunday newspapers to publicize the show.
In 2000 in Europe, the company launched a print and TV campaign developed by Sek Grey Oy to promote its 7110 model, one of the first wireless application protocol - based phones launched in Europe. Spots ran on CNN International, Eurosport and BBC World, and ads appeared in Mi>Time and Newsweek, among others, with the tagline "The world at your fingertips."
Nokia has relied heavily on relationships and sponsorships to promote its brand. The company has forged partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the non-profit arts organization Gen Art and the Guggenheim Museum. It also has sponsored a variety of TV programming, including the Teen Choice Awards, Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards and CNN International's yearlong "Voices of the Millennium" series in 1999, broadcast to an audience of 125 million households in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.
The company also has sponsored a variety of sporting events, including the Sugar Bowl, the U.S. Youth Soccer Organization, the Indianapolis 500 auto race and the International Ski Federation Snowboard World Cup.
In 2001, Nokia had $35.5 million in total ad spending, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. In 2002, Nokia was the No. 1 marketer of wireless handsets. In 2003, Nokia tapped Grey Worldwide, London, to handle the introduction of its new N-Gage mobile gaming phone. The account was expected to spend $100 million worldwide.
By 2004, Nokia?s lead in creating the mobile gaming category faltered, and it faced continuing pressure from Motorola, Samsung, and other cell-phone makers. To meet its marketing challenges, Nokia in the U.S. parted with its agency, the independent shop Richards Group, Dallas, and handed Omnicom Group?s DDB, Chicago, an assignment.
Nokia then conducted a full review and gave the account to Grey. It also overhauled its marketing department and divided its business into four operating divisions?mobile phones, enterprise, multimedia and networks. Meanwhile, Nokia continued its sports marketing thrust, signing a multi-year deal with the National Basketball Association and the Women's National Basketball Association.