Madison + Vine: Nokia tries new Bowl promo

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As a new wrinkle for its ongoing sponsorship of ABC's Sugar Bowl, Nokia is tapping into the comedic talents of Jimmy Kimmel with an on-field halftime quiz that touts its Nokia 3650 digital-camera phone.

Nokia worked with Omnicom Group's The Marketing Arm, a sports and entertainment marketing outfit of the holding company's Diversified Agency Services unit, to create a contest intended as a mass product demonstration for the Jan. 1 game.

Mr. Kimmel, whose new late-night talk show is poised to launch on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, will introduce the game, in which contestants will be shown famous college-football images from the past and asked to identify the schools in the pictures for prizes. ESPN sports announcers Joe Theismann and Rich Eisen will also play roles during the segment. A 15-foot facsimile of the Nokia camera phone with a plasma screen will display the football images.

"Voice communications are certainly something that we all are comfortable with, but visual communications are the next generation of the way we communicate and this contest dramatically illustrates that," said Matt Wisk, Nokia VP-marketing, North and South America.

`alias' integration

According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, Nokia spent $35.5 million during 2001 in total ad spending, while from January through September the marketer spent nearly $21 million.

Under the stewardship of Mr. Wisk, Nokia became an early and active participant in the area of branded content and integration. In addition to its long-running sponsorship of the Sugar Bowl, the U.S. arm of the Finland-based wireless provider has orchestrated high-profile product integration deals, including one in MGM Distribution Co.'s James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies."

More recently, the brand reaped praise for its integration into ABC's "Alias," starring Jennifer Garner. Last season, in an episode of the spy show, Ms. Garner's character was shown walking through an underground parking garage. She noticed a suspicious-looking man talking on his cellphone. She flipped open her own cellphone, which flashed a "no service" message, indicating that the man was only pretending to talk on his cell and possibly meant her harm. This contextual blending of the brand into the storyline paid off as the Nokia brand name was displayed prominently for several seconds.

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