Qualcomm tasks Saatchi Singapore with SE Asian mobile phone launch

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SINGAPORE -- Qualcomm Incorporated, the San Diego-based advanced telecommunications company, has appointed Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Singapore to help launch its high-tech digital mobile phones into southeast Asia on a large scale. Saatchi beat Batey Ads in a two-way final pitch.

The multi-million dollar ad spend will support Qualcomm Personal Electronics' move into Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand this fall, followed by Singapore early next year. The company entered Hong Kong a year and a half ago. QPE claims to be the world's biggest supplier of handsets that operate on CDMA networks. CDMA has been adopted in the U.S. and is expected to become the world standard for digital communications.

Southeast Asia is already a huge market for mobile phones (14% of people in Singapore carry them), but it is also growing at a rapid rate. Such potential has already attracted other big players such as Motorola and Nokia, against whom Qualcomm will have to compete. "There are well-established brands in CDMA so we have a job on our hands to build the [Qualcomm] brand as soon as possible," says Andy Lambert, Saatchi group account director.

Creative for the TV and print campaign has yet to be finalized, but strategy will "almost certainly use Qualcomm's heritage and expertise to provide credibility for their phones," Lambert says.

"We made our decision based on the quality of Saatchi's creative work," says James Person, regional director for Qualcomm SE Asia, which is headquartered in Singapore. "Although Qualcomm is well-known in America, it will be a new brand in the highly competitive market of SE Asia, so it's important to make an impact."

The account will be run from Singapore, using Saatchi agencies in local markets. The products' staggered launch through different countries means media will be bought on a national basis before pan- regional options are considered. Heavy concentration of mobile phone usage around certain cities may also lead to ads focused on specific areas.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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