Brand activation is one of those sophisticated-sounding marketing techniques that is actually very simple. As simple as the salesmen who, decades ago, travelled from door to door with a winning smile and a suitcase full of washing powder. So what went wrong, Nokia?
The mobile phone giant was highly conspiscuous at a Nokia-sponsored gig in Dubai. The signage for “Stereo by Nokia” was prominent but, sadly, the reps on the ground didn’t seem able to deliver the key messages.
There was a bad case of crossed lines when this correspondent passed a display stand with a giant TV screen showing the Nokia Music Store application. The conversation (the answers of the rep are in bold) went something like this:
What’s this? It’s the Nokia Music Store. It looks just like iTunes. No, it’s not iTunes. Yes, I realise that but it looks just the same. No, it’s Nokia. Well, I’ve got iTunes and I’m happy with it. This isn’t iTunes, it’s Nokia. It’s different. How is it different? It’s Nokia. It’s different. You use it with your Nokia phone. I haven’t got a Nokia phone. I’ve got iTunes and I like it, so why would I switch to this? I don’t know. Okay, bye.
No invitation to try it, no explanation, no demonstration = no new customer for Nokia.
That encounter was painful enough but there was a more urgent sting in the tail later in the evening. Well, a sting in the leg actually. I had no idea why I felt a stabbing pain in my thigh until I remembered the badge I’d been given earlier by another Nokia rep, now residing in my trouser pocket (the badge, not the rep), with a pin that had broken loose from its catch… Ouch!