Tag Archives: nokia

Don’t call it a comeback

It’s been a while. Here’s what has been happening:

1. I left Nokia
There are so many reasons for this, so this really requires a separate post. But suffice to say, after over 7 years at the company, I decided I needed to do something new. And, ultimately, I wanted to see my daughters every day. See this photo to understand why.

2. I joined an ad agency
Actually, it’s more of a idea factory, which sounds a bit wanky but is a much better description of what 358 does. With guys from IDEO, industrial designers, and a whole bunch of people who don’t want to just make the same old ads, it’s a really interesting place to be right now. I’m a strategist, but we are aim to be T-shaped.

3. We bought a new apartment in central Helsinki
Big decision to move to the centre of the city with our two daughters, but we feel like they are going to have an awesome life there. We are probably going to go without a car, which will also be interesting. ps the apartment is lovely. Photos to come.

4. We survived one of the longest winters ever
It’s still snowing in Helsinki. Hopefully we’ll just skip spring now and go straight to summer.

5. My thoughts about marketing techniques have changed quite a lot
I used to think that “traditional” marketing was past its sell-by date; now – after reading lots – I think that it all depends on what you want to achieve. But, the truth is, “engagement” is actually not very useful for most brands, who should instead be concentrating on getting more people to consider their brand. Much more on this to come.

6. I got a bit obsessed with the idea of minimalism
I’ve been reading a lot about this, and plan on implementing the thoughts into my life. From food to cars to clothes, I will aim to simplify. The best thing about this is it fills you with a kind of calm, knowing that the things you need in life are actually quite simple and not expensive. I have a strong feeling that this particular obsession is going to lead to some more profound changes in my life, but for now it has at least given me a feeling of calm and reminded me that I am so lucky to already have the things I have in life.

Lots to share. Look forward to the conversations!

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Can music videos funded by brands be cool?

Brands like Levi’s have always paid great attention to the music in their ads, and we have got used to product placements in music videos. But the creation of actual music videos and other bespoke pieces of content, paid for by brands rather than record companies, is quite new. With both the music and the ad business suffering, brands are now playing the role of pop-culture patrons. There is actually a rich heritage of patronage of arts (Faris Yakob has written about it) – it has always been a way to bolster reputation – but patronage of pop music is quite new.

There is a good discussion over on Hyper’s blog about the Doritos-funded video by UK rapper Professor Green. I quite like the 360 video they made, but the link with the product is tenuous, and I can’t imagine that many people will pay any attention to the Doritos ads on the side; They might as well have just paid for a banner placement.

There was also the recent Fiat Faithless music video, which at least incorporated the car into the band’s video. It got good coverage in the press as a “promercial” (NB I hope to never write that word again). It ended up feeling like any another car ad though, and was even shown during ad breaks just like traditional ads.

We made a short-film / music video called Dragonfly Love for the Nokia N8 with the band Kap Bambino:

We had the luxury of shooting with the product itself, which freed us up to not do too many product references. In our case, it was part HD device showcase, part bonkers entertainment.

It is increasingly difficult to make any money out of selling music, so it will be interesting whether more bands and artists look for an advertiser to pay for their videos. Of course artists don’t want their art to be compromised. Some people were highly critical of Faithless for selling out so completely to a brand for example. But as Jay-Z put it: “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!”.

Brands will continue to pay for original, high-quality content and musicians will continue to look for new ways to finance their work, so the question becomes: is it cool? Is having a brand pay for your music video a step too far in terms of selling-out? Are brands assisting and supporting creativity, or stifling and ultimately inhibiting it?

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Keeping the cooks from the broth.

Every now and then you are shown an idea that is so great that you tell as few people as possible, hoping that no one gets in the way and ruins it. That was the case with Dot, the animation created for Nokia by the brilliant combination of Wieden & Kennedy and Aardman Animations.

It started with Professor Fletcher’s CellScope, which was originally invented to send pictures of blood cells from Africa to doctors abroad, for expert diagnosis. The CellScope used readily-available phones like the Nokia N95, so was a great example of our campaign tagline: “It’s not technology, it’s what you do with it”. We created a video that told the story about Dr Fletcher’s technology, but the team at W&K asked if they might experiment with the microscope to create something fun. They came up with the idea of a tiny stop-motion animation, to showcase the amazing imaging capabilities of the Nokia N8. They said they wanted to try to break the Guiness World Record for the Smallest Ever Animation*

Once Aardman’s Sumo Science team was on board and seemed genuinely excited by working within the limitations we set, then I was sure we were on to something good. I told virtually no one, to protect it from the excesses of a major corporation that always, inevitably, has too much to say.

As a client, it’s rare that you see a finished film that is everything you were promised, and also much, much more. The craft, the timing, the magic of it is just breath-taking. As a commenter on Youtube put it “I’m an iOS developer and am thinking, at this moment: “wow! nokia is cool again!”.

Also, as a client, I can’t take much credit for the film. My job was just to believe in the idea and to protect it from the inevitable squabbling, opinions and unhelpful suggestions from stakeholders trying to “add value”. Too many cooks would definitely have spoiled this broth. Sometimes less is more.

Really, the credit goes to Mark and Richard at W&K for having the idea in the first place, and to the geniuses at Sumo Science and their incredible animating skill.

* BTW, it did break the record: Guiness World Record for Smallest Character in a Stop-Motion Animation!

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Is there such a thing as bad publicity?

I work in the Global Marketing team at Nokia. We produce Global-level marketing assets and suchlike, but sometimes we get surprised by things that happen on a local level. One such example was last week when a campaign was launched in UK to star in a bedroom scene with Pamela Anderson – all shot in HD on the Nokia N8.

It certainly earned media, generating a lot of tweets and even more Facebook links. And it did something that is quite hard to achieve for a marketing project: it earned mainstream (tabloid) press from Brixton to Brooklyn.

The response was mostly quite negative. Comments such as: “absolutely unbelieveable. Nokia cant get to such low standards… a Porn star to promote a flagship product of Nokia.. something is seriously wrong at nokia” were unfortunately quite common.

So it may have been in bad taste. Certainly it is not the kind of marketing people expect from Nokia, but that means it disrupted expectations, which is not a bad thing. Also, in fairness, it did get the point across that the Nokia N8 has a fantastic home-video camera.

I personally agree with many of the commenters that it’s a bad choice of actress. It doesn’t sit well with me, and is inconsistent with some of the global campaign work we’ve been doing (more on that coming soon)

But I could be wrong, and this may have actually done little long-term damage and actually done a great job of getting us into the papers at just the right time before Nokia World.

I guess time will tell if this kind of stunt actually helps or hinders our marketing efforts.

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