Motorola's VP and CMO Jan Huckfeldt on the brand's future

Diana Bradley asks Motorola VP and CMO Jan Huckfeldt about how the company is going up against major competitors Apple and Samsung.

What’s your outlook for Motorola in your role as CMO?

We want to build Motorola’s brand. To do that, we look at where Motorola comes from. It has a rich heritage that we want to build on and leverage. It is a strong brand in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and Western Europe, and it has a good reputation. I am focused on making the most of the Motorola brand within the overall Lenovo brand and our strategy to deliver sustainable growth.

How do you differentiate Motorola and contend with competitors?
In mid-September, we launched our Skip the Sevens campaign, which falls under the Lenovo umbrella campaign Different is Better. We believe big innovation has really lagged in the smartphone industry for the last couple of years.

Looking at the seventh generation of the two big players [Apple and Samsung], we invited consumers in a cheeky way to skip the sevens and look at Moto. We did this with the right tonality. We didn’t want to put our competitors down.

Motorola, until recently, has played the same game. Sizes get bigger and cameras get additional mega pixels, but there is a lack of proper innovation. Moto Z and Moto Mods bring that breakthrough innovation.

Do you have any results to share from that campaign?

In the first five days after we ran an open letter as a full-page ad in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, we drove close to 20 million social media engagements. That is a huge number, comprised of clicks, shares, and likes.

We also posted a video of a panel of consumers who were exposed to our innovation, believing this was the innovation of our biggest competitors. That video got 10 million views in the first five days it was up. We followed up on the initial open letter with print ads, playing on "Hello Moto," and how our phone models are different and better.

In October, you debuted Moto’s first TV commercial since 2011. Why are you suddenly ramping up marketing efforts?
We really believe Moto is a great brand. Globally, we want to grow it. If you don’t have anything to say, and you have a commodity like everyone else, is it worthwhile pushing marketing investment for a brand? That is debatable.

In our case, we have the key ingredients. We have a great brand to build on, which has great heritage, and we have a fantastic product that is highly differentiated. We believe it is our time to take market share and relaunch the brand.

What is the biggest challenge for your company and for you as CMO?
It is my task to get the entire company and every country behind and investing in Motorola.

The other challenge is a question of funding. The smartphone market is a highly competitive market and some competitors have a high level of funding. It is up to us to break through the clutter with outstanding advertising based on the funds we have available. We must invest those funds in a strategic way, focusing on key markets.

How are you marketing to millennials?
As a company, we are focused on driving engagement and building a relationship with millennials. We do that through influencers and specific engagement programs. We select specific influencers around the globe to work with, depending on the market, whether it is in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, or Europe. We select influencers by passion point.

For example, during New York Fashion Week, we worked with fashion designer Vivienne Tam. She designed a Moto Z Style Shell. We also invited key U.S. fashion bloggers from different backgrounds to the show and organized a party to get them familiar with our innovations, product, and the overall brand.

Can you share plans for 2017?
We will continue with our current campaign. The overall Different is Better umbrella theme is going to stay with us for a while. I am also a strong believer in the need for a certain amount of continuity and consistency. We are talking about the relaunch of a brand that is a little like a dormant princess that needed woken up. It does take a while. It is not something that can be achieved quickly. In the beginning, we must have continuity and do this with a high level of investment and confidence.

Moving forward, Moto will serve as our primary smartphone brand and our investments will be behind it. This will allow us to offer a more focused smartphone portfolio, bringing together the best technology, designs, and user experiences under one brand.

However, implementing this strategy will take some time. During the transition period, we will continue to use the Lenovo/VIBE brand for channel differentiation primarily with lower tier products. This will be a challenging transition to navigate as CMO, but it’s an opportunity to throw all our support behind the Moto brand, which has great heritage and equity to grow globally.

You spent over five years in HP’s marketing department. What is your take on HP calling for diversity in its agency roster, and is this something you can see Motorola doing eventually? 
I am not going to comment on the business or agency strategy of competitors. We have made very good choices when it comes to our agencies. Weber Shandwick is Motorola’s PR agency, and our creative agency is Ogilvy. On the overall strategy piece, we are working with Interbrand, and we work on brand identity with FutureBrand. These are respectively very strong players. We are looking at not one agency across all these different areas, but at top agencies who work closely together in cooperation.

What is your golden rule of marketing?
I am drawing on a daily basis from what I learned during my eight years at Procter & Gamble [as a brand manager]. Something I learned from [P&G’s now president and CEO] David Taylor is at the basis of strong marketing is a sharp strategy. And any successful brand is powered by a smart strategy.

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