All About the ‘N’ at Nokia
First, there were Sandinistas, followed eventually by fashionistas and urbanistas. Now Nokia, the Finnish mobile telecommunications giant, is enlisting a phalanx of bloggeristas, journalistas and travelistas to promote a new multi-function device.
Nokia is giving them all its N82, which combines a phone, a five-megapixel camera, G.P.S. capability and a can opener. (Just kidding. The can openers are sold separately.) Nokia calls the N82, the newest entry in the N series line that was first introduced in 2005, a multimedia computer.
The N82 is intended for consumers who want the gizmos they carry in their pockets and purses to perform as many high-technology tasks as possible. To demonstrate its versatility, the people equipped with N82s are being asked to write, take pictures and produce video clips, all of which are being shared online.
Nokia is calling the N82 its first product to be brought out through the Internet rather than with news conferences, publicity or traditional advertising. There was what the company calls a “virtual launch event,” which took place in November on a Web site, as well as a so-called viral campaign for the device.
The initial phase of the campaign began early in the year when one Nokia agency, a London shop named 1000 Heads, hired four bloggers to take trips and chronicle with their N82s what they saw and experienced.
The bloggers’ journeys began in New York and ended in London. They visited 22 cities in between, which included Bangkok, Berlin, Las Vegas, Paris and Washington.
The words, photographs and video produced by the bloggers were housed on a Web site created by another Nokia agency, the London office of R/GA, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. The bloggers also filed reports on personal blogs.
The next phase of the campaign is getting under way after a third Nokia agency, MediaCom, part of the GroupM division of the WPP Group, lined up four media outlets to take part.
Journalists from CNN, Lonely Planet, National Geographic and Wallpaper are bringing N82s with them as they work and filing reports, blog posts and photos.
For example, Richard Quest, a London-based anchor for CNN, is posting on a section of the CNN Web site, where his whereabouts can be tracked in real time.
Five travel writers — Austin Bush, Travis Drever, Adam Karlin, Ghita Loebenstein and Amelia Thomas — are participating on a section of the Lonely Planet Web site.
And reporters and editors from the magazine Wallpaper brought N82s with them to cover Fashion Week events in London, Milan and Paris .
“The cool thing for us is that we’re taking a consumer-driven approach,” says Arto Joensuu, global e-marketing director at Nokia in Espoo, Finland, by “getting the device into their hands.”
“It’s not so much about slapping the Nokia logo everywhere,” he adds, but rather “about showing, and not telling that much about what the product offering is.”
If consumers are going to help advertisers introduce products, “we need to release a certain amount of control,” Mr. Joensuu says, and treat the marketplace as if it was “a neighborhood” rather than a bazaar where hucksters harangue the would-be buyers.
“It’s O.K. to sell if you’re giving more than you’re taking,” he adds.
The real-time aspects of the Urbanista Diaries, as Nokia is calling the campaign, make it “almost like a live focus group,” Mr. Joensuu says.
“We put a lot of emphasis on listening to what’s being said,” he adds, so there can be “a continuous dialogue” between Nokia and potential customers.
Nokia is not telling the people being given the N82s what to write, Mr. Joensuu says, nor is anything they are writing being censored.
For instance, in one post, Jay Montano, one of the four bloggers who first received the N82s, complained about a feature known as Sports Tracker and how slow it was to upload photos.
“If the feedback is positive, great,” Mr. Joensuu says. “We’re also interested in not-so-positive feedback that helps us improve and makes thing better.”
The campaign, with a budget estimated at $500,000, is emblematic of how advertisers are devoting more of their budgets to the Internet, mobile marketing and other media that depart from conventions like television commercials and print ads.
“Digital has been taking more of a focus for Nokia,” says Anthony Wickham, group account director at the London office of R/GA, which has been the lead interactive agency for the company since 2005.
“This campaign is really suited to having digital at the center of it,” he adds. “Everything was built using Nokia technology.”
The approach is “the optimal way to show the device and what it has to offer,” Mr. Wickham says, “rather than talking about it.”
“The content is becoming the advertising,” he adds. “You put the product in the hands of consumers and have them comment, good and bad.”
That means “you can’t sanitize things” if the comments are critical, Mr. Wickham says. “It has to be honest.”
The content being generated by all the writers, reporters, travelers and bloggers is being evaluated, he adds, to help design the next phase of the campaign.
Mr. Wickham and Mr. Joensuu both decline to discuss what that next phase may involve.
“We don’t want to steal any thunder” from the work before it comes out, Mr. Wickham says. All that Mr. Joensuu offers is a promise that “lovely things are cooking.”
Hmmmmm. There’s an idea: Equip a group of chefs, restaurateurs, gourmets and food critics with N82s, then ask them to eat their way around the world and report on the results.
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