Telecom titan Nortel fires up dollars 100m marketing push

BRAMPTOM, ONTARIO: Telecommunications giant Nortel Networks has unleashed a dollars 100 million marketing campaign that includes its largest-ever investment in PR.

BRAMPTOM, ONTARIO: Telecommunications giant Nortel Networks has unleashed a dollars 100 million marketing campaign that includes its largest-ever investment in PR.

BRAMPTOM, ONTARIO: Telecommunications giant Nortel Networks has

unleashed a dollars 100 million marketing campaign that includes its

largest-ever investment in PR.



Nortel, which changed its name from Northern Telecom earlier this year,

has been engaged in an aggressive branding effort to shed its relative

anonymity compared with rivals Cisco Systems and Lucent.



Although Nortel claims that 75% of the Internet traffic in North America

rides over its equipment, both Lucent and Cisco enjoy better brand

recognition as leading architects of the Internet, something chief

marketing officer Bill Conner hopes to change. ’In the past we’ve done

PR for PR’s sake,’ he said. ’It was disconnected from our business

initiatives.’



To that end, Nortel last week also introduced a new networking

technology, which it claims will avoid information traffic jams caused

by ’Old World’ routers. With 1998 revenues of dollars 17.6 billion,

Nortel is second only to Lucent in fiber-optic technology.



The theme of the campaign, ’What do you want the Internet to be?’ may

remind many of Microsoft’s ’Where do you want to go today?’ tagline. The

current campaign is the sequel to Nortel’s offbeat ’Come Together’

effort, launched in February, but includes a much larger PR thrust.

’We’re trying to create a dialogue, as opposed to it being just an ad

campaign,’ Conner said.



While Conner would not disclose how much of the budget is devoted to PR,

he admitted, ’This is probably the largest investment in PR our company

has ever made.’ Global communications VP Andy Lark added that Nortel is

shifting more money towards external PR expenditures, a trend backed by

the latest Harris client survey (PRWeek, Sept. 7).



Global agency of record Fleishman-Hillard will lead the PR charge.

Nortel had used ’a plethora’ of agencies previously, according to Lark,

but consolidated its account around Fleishman early this year.



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