Motorola seeking unity for global brand image

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Motorola has long been respected as a provider of high-quality wireless products, as well as a supplier of superbly engineered components. Now, the company is poised to build upon those assets as it looks for new ideas on how to enhance its global brand stature.

The company has charged its three roster agencies with a mission to create a unified Motorola brand presence (AA, July 24). The integrated global image effort will extend across the company's various businesses: semiconductors and embedded systems; wireless handsets and other mobile products; cable and broadband; and computer networking.

Currently, Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, handles Motorola's semiconductor advertising; McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, is responsible for wireless handset and other products in the company's Personal Communications Sector unit; and Ogilvy & Mather, also New York, coordinates online and direct marketing. Motorola's global brand project, estimated at more than $100 million, could lead to an agency consolidation, though a spokeswoman said it was too soon to speculate on such an outcome. She also declined to call the process a "review."


Motorola spent more than $70 million on U.S. advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. McCann's "Wings" campaign in 1998 helped put the company back on the map in consumers' minds, but the brand effort was shortlived as Motorola began focusing on a flagship product-oriented advertising strategy. The company has made high-profile ad buys on the Academy Awards and Super Bowl broadcasts in recent months, showcasing new products in spots from McCann.

Motorola's global image push comes as the wireless communications provider works to beef up its marketing ranks. Geoffrey Frost, VP-director of global consumer communications, joined Motorola from Nike about a year ago and has helped attract additional marketing talent.

Jocelyn Carter-Miller, previously VP-Latin American and Caribbean operations, was promoted in recent months to corporate VP and chief marketing officer. Ms. Carter-Miller is leading the company's brand efforts, overseeing a group of eight to 10 marketing executives and heads of business units. According to company insiders, it was a two-day meeting of senior marketing executives convened by Ms. Carter-Miller more than a month ago that sparked the request that its agencies present new ideas that would cover the entire brand.


The bid for a more high-profile image comes as other technology companies such as AT&T Corp., Ericsson and Nokia struggle to reposition themselves as global communications services providers and to establish first-mover advantage in hot emerging growth areas such as voice recognition and mobile data services.

Motorola is ranked No. 2 in the U.S. and globally among wireless handset marketers; Nokia is No. 1.

"Motorola has certainly stemmed the market share decline, it has a good suite of digital products -- the i1000 and the StarTAC, but from the point of view of consumer branding, they kind of go in and out of consciousness," said Mark Lowenstein, exec VP at Yankee Group's wireless practice.

"Motorola had a pretty strong second quarter, they're improving the margins in most businesses, but in the handset business they're still dealing with product cycle issues," said David Toung, senior analyst, Argus Research.

Yankee's Mr. Lowenstein maintains that Motorola hasn't had a consistent brand presence for a long time. He said the ad for Mya, a voice-recognition system that Motorola aired during the Academy Awards was a "great ad, but where have they gone with it?" The spot drove viewers to its Web site to demo the product and other "Web W/O Wires" devices, but failed to market Mya further. Now, he says, Motorola risks being outmarketed by Tellme, a start-up begun by ex-Netscape Communications executives that's marketing a similar product.

"Consumers don't know where Motorola is and where it's going," Mr. Lowenstein said, adding, "Where's the next phase of innovation, what's the next big thing for Motorola?"

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