Media: Strategy Analysis - Giving exclusivity to Nokia gig-goers

Brand: Nokia
Client: Simon Lloyd, head of marketing, Nokia
Brief: Re-engage target audience
Target audience: 16- to 24-year-olds
Budget: Small - tasked to find an affordable solution

Media: MediaCom
Creative: Haygarth
Technology consultants: Smart Fusion
PR: TX Media and Amazing


Nokia wanted to re-engage the 16- to 24-year-old audience. After enjoying a period of dominance in the mobile phone market, its market share was under threat from its rivals' product innovations being targeted aggressively at the youth audience. SponsorCom Live was asked to develop a solution that would increase youth preference, with scope to become a long-term marketing solution.

SponsorCom Live recommended partnering with a music promoter to create a unique music-access programme. The objective was to make Nokia the brand that offered music fans their best chance to get gig tickets. As the service needed to be universally available, it was made free and open to Nokia and non-Nokia users alike.

The music industry is moving to a point where it may offer all mobile brands the same music content. On this basis, it was decided a ticketing deal could provide Nokia with exclusivity in an asset whose supply is limited. Nokia partnered with one of the world's major music promoters, Live Nation, which had the business scale to secure tickets that would cater for all musical tastes.


Nokia Ticket Rush was launched in February 2006, offering Nokia users a free subscription to the service; gig information and tickets direct to handsets. Users could also take advantage of ticket discounts and exclusive offers.

- Press: Directional ads were placed in high-coverage event and music listings magazines such as NME, Kerrang! and Music Week. High impact formats were used to create a sense of occasion and excitement.

- Ambient media: Bar washroom panels, beer-mats, postcards and posters in bars.

- Radio: Promotions will last 12 months. Activity includes six separate two-week long campaigns featuring 60-second ads on stations covering rock, pop, indie and metal.

Promotions were placed between airtime, with landmark gigs chosen for each station. These included Kerrang! with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hit 40 UK with Hard Fi, and Xfm with Hyde Park Calling.

- Online: There was a branding focus on Yahoo! with activity being split into two parts: ownership of the homepage on the day of the Ticket Rush launch and continuing activity across the site. Direct response was driven through keywords such as "concert tickets", "discount tickets" and network banners to promote the ticket service.


Five months after launch, the service has attracted 30,000 subscribers. Live Nation is selling between 10 and 30 per cent of tickets for individual gigs through the Nokia Ticket Rush service. In May, Guns N' Roses' first UK gig for more than ten years was supported by a paperless ticketing initiative through Nokia Ticket Rush. Coverage was achieved in the News of the World and The Sun.

THE VERDICT - Graham Bednash managing partner, Michaelides & Bednash

If you haven't read any books by Al Ries and Jack Trout, it's worth a trip to Amazon. They're packed full of provocative ideas rooted in a few, simple truths and written with that cocky self-assurance that only US business writers can get away with.

Their most cocky book of all is modestly titled The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Rule number one states: "It's better to be first than to be better." It's pretty hard not to have this rule ringing in your head like an irritating ringtone when looking at this Nokia idea.

In a commodity market where all handset brands feel like much of a muchness, this Nokia initiative is a smart idea. And it's much more than a media or sponsorship idea. SponsorCom Live got all the infrastructure of a ticketing agency without having to start it up from scratch and were able to brand it as their own.

All the things you'd expect from a members' club are here in spades: lots of suggested exclusivity and privileged access that the great unwashed can't get hold of - all designed to make Nokia owners feel like they're members of the music equivalent of Soho House. They get exclusive access to tickets before the rest of us, they get hold of tickets when it looks as though they've sold out and they get cheaper tickets too. And the results are looking good - 30,000 subscribers in just five months.

But if you look at this idea with your Ries and Trout hat on, it doesn't ring true. That's because it's impossible not to compare this idea with O2.

O2 was first into music and does it brilliantly. O2's reputation for music has been put together with simplicity and huge commitment so it makes Nokia feel like it's playing catch-up.

Nokia wanted to "re-engage the 16- to 24-year-old audience" and develop a credible music association, but the execution of it feels weak and less authentic. Just look at today's Nokia Ticket Rush website for evidence. In the top-ten-selling gigs you'll find Billy Joel, Will Young, Status Quo and Westlife. And you can get more or less the same privileges whether you own a Nokia or any other handset.

It's a smart business idea but I'm not convinced it's right for the brand. If you're second in the market, you have to do it differently.

Score: 3 out of 5.