Nokia’s ‘transition’ into a services company is finally happening. Its smartphone portfolio has been reduced, while Ovi Maps was made free in January this year.
The results of its AGM also proved that hardware was not the only thing the world’s number one manufacturer wants to be known for.
And the company’s UK marketing efforts are focused entirely on making consumers aware that Nokia is not just a hardware company, with multi-millions being spent on the new campaign.
At the centre of the activity is the company’s new marketing chief, John Nichols, who has replaced mobile veteran Will Harris when he moved to a global role.
Nichols has worked at Nokia since 2009 when he took the lead role in customer and retail marketing. He went on to head-up strategy and has been acting in his current role since the start of this year until he was given the job permanently last month. ‘There are lots of opportunities, it’s a great team,’ Nichols says.
The new campaign, which launched on 8 May, consists of digital, TV and radio. It builds on the manufacturer’s move to make Ovi Maps free in January this year, says Nichols.
‘This is about bringing it to the UK customer,’ he adds.
He says that the campaign is about the human element, and features ‘real people from around the world using their Nokia handsets, such as Mr Wu and his talking robot’, who you can follow as they journey through Shanghai. It has the strapline, ‘everyone, everywhere, can find their way’.
Nichols says: ‘It brings the whole thing to life. It demonstrates that there is a human element to everyone.’
Nichols says the multimillion, six week campaign is Nokia’s ‘biggest campaign of late’, adding: ‘We are uniquely placed to do this.’
The company has also launched its Own Voice app, which allows users to customise the voice on Nokia’s sat nav.
‘It is all about how we deliver solutions as we go forward as a services company, so we are very excited. It’s part of the broader strategy to show solutions rather than just hardware.’
This year Nokia will continue with portfolio development. ‘Obviously we are in the business, but it’s how we take the devices to market with services,’ says Nichols. ‘You will see a mixture of our digital capabilities. In the last six months, we have ramped up significantly, particularly, for example, in social networking.’
So is Nokia moving away from hardware? Nichols says no. He adds: ‘With smartphones – if you look at this campaign we have more devices in the pipeline. The important part for us is creating solutions and delivering that in a credible way.’
Location based services are, and have been for some time, crucial to the roadmap. Nichols says: ‘We acquired the navigation company Navteq and this is the first iteration of that. Our Navteq platform is fully open for developers – when they are creating apps. If you look at the content within free Ovi Maps, it’s very rich. No one is doing it as well as Nokia.’
Nichols adds: ‘The point is, you take your phone out of your pocket and you have it all at your fingertips. There are even Michelin apps for restaurants that direct you there – it’s how you enrich that.’
Some have argued that other users knowing their location is intrusive. Nichols says: ‘In terms of updating your location on Facebook, the testing we have been doing shows that the key point is to allow people to access it if they want it. You can send a link and it can direct you all the way to meeting someone.’
But does Nokia really have any consumer awareness of this kind of thing? ‘Our approach to our campaign intends to do this,’ Nichols says. ‘It will become important where relevant and also through partners such as online and in store. The key part is to deliver the free sat nav – the foundation is the best’.
Retail staff are being trained up on selling Ovi, and ads will soon appear in shop windows. ‘The channel partners are also key to us,’ says Nichols.
Nichols had worked in retail for many years. Before joining Nokia, he was head of promotional marketing at Woolworths and before that he was at Sainsbury’s. ‘I’m a retail guy, born and bred,’ says Nichols. ‘I’d been in retail for a long time. But technology has always been a hobby – it’s an exciting time.
Our ambitions are always big and we are absolutely focused.’
‘The transformation we are going through is key,’ says Nichols. ‘This is the start of a very big strategy.’