Day One, Zeno help Motorola relaunch Razr flip phone

DJs Diplo and Sita Abellán also showed up at its LA launch event.

Motorola called on two famous DJs to relauch the Razr, this time as a smartphone. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Motorola called on two famous DJs to relauch the Razr, this time as a smartphone. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES: Motorola, hoping to dial up pre-iPhone era levels of buzz, reached out to Day One Agency and Zeno Group for the relaunch of the Razr flip phone this month. 

The new version of the phone, which features a foldable screen, was unveiled in Los Angeles on November 13, though some tech and business insiders got a sneak peek. 

"We partnered with Day One to develop a robust lifestyle [and] consumer comms launch strategy that would connect the new Razr to culture, once again, while complementing Zeno’s tech and business strategy," said Cassandra McCormack, communications lead for Motorola U.S., adding that experiential agency MKG also worked on the rollout. 

Zeno has worked with Motorola since 2018, after it won Lenovo’s global account. Motorola is part of Lenovo’s mobile business group.

Motorola started working with Day One in July, when the company began planning the Razr relaunch, McCormack said. 

Day One’s responsibilities were to develop and execute lifestyle and consumer comms work, while Zeno helped with overall strategy and focused on traditional tech and business PR, which it handles globally for all Motorola products, McCormack said. 

"From a comms perspective, we wanted our launch strategy to reignite the brand’s position at the center of culture, showing how the phone brings fashion, style and portability to the world of smartphones," she said. "That is why every aspect of our strategy leaned into a ‘show, not tell’ mentality." 

"If we want this phone to be a cultural and fashion icon, then we need to launch it like one," McCormack added.

The brand’s pre-launch efforts, managed by Zeno, included giving analysts and some members of the media a heads up. Motorola previewed the phone in Chicago for key analysts and held a second embargoed preview event for global tech and business media the day before the launch. 

After the previews, the brand held its launch event at the Container Yard in the Los Angeles Arts District, targeting consumer and lifestyle media. In addition to a custom immersive environment created by MKG, the event featured DJs Diplo and Sita Abellan. 

"We pulled inspiration from today’s most disruptive fashion shows and artist world tours. How are designers and musicians reinventing the norm in their industries, and how can we do the same?" McCormack said.

A primary goal of the traditional media outreach was to strategically position the Razr and combat possible negative reactions to foldable screen technology, according to a Zeno spokesperson. In April, examples of one of the first foldable phones developed by Samsung were given to journalists for review. Some screens broke and Samsung delayed its planned launch until September. 

Motorola wants to recapture the love of consumers, who dropped the Razr in favor of the iPhone when Apple’s device was introduced. The Razr was first sold in 2004 as a luxury device for $600. After Motorola dropped the price, it sold 130 million Razrs, according to technology website The Hustle. 

However, the iPhone, which entered the market in 2007, decreased the Razr’s appeal. By 2008, 24% of new iPhone users were former Razr owners. Motorola phones, including the Razr, had 27% of the market in 2004; today, they have 6% versus the iPhone’s 40%. 

Day One CEO Josh Rosenberg said cultural and lifestyle themes of the launch will carry over into communications support for the marketing of the Razr, which is set to go on sale on December 26.

Rosenberg said the brand will launch a campaign to connect the device to culture and build "halo moments" when it can showcase technology and lifestyle around it. 

"They were such iconic devices but now there is a new and different expression of them," he said. "The event and the phone really put Motorola back on the map, and it seems it really connected in the great way we heard comments and interests from the partners and from consumers who are really excited about it."

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