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At the time, Nokia’s advertising tag line was “Connecting People.” The agency team began to think of ways to make Nokia’s tag line come to life. The team ultimately settled on the idea of connecting with consumers by, essentially, drawing them into a really good story. “We wanted to show Nokia that there was another way of connecting people, not just by product but by communication of the Nokia brand itself,” says Marco Boender, chief operating officer of Human-i Euro RSCG. “That’s where the creative leap began. We thought, what would be a better way to connect people? What do people talk about? People talk about good stories, about good challenges.” What the agency team had discovered was the essence of the consumer DNA. They had tapped into what the consumer wanted to experience. Now they just had to connect the consumer to the brand.
Eventually the team came up with a James Bond—like adventure story that would be called “Nokia Game.” Created by Sicco Beerda and Joost van Liemt, at the time creative directors at Bikker Euro RSCG, Nokia Game was designed as an interactive adventure that would fully engage consumers in the brand experience.
Think beyond Your Customer Base
The plan was to offer Nokia Game to all mobile phone users— not just Nokia users—with a primary target of Europeans ages 15 to 35 who had Internet access. This would allow the company to connect with consumers beyond its core customers.
Though it’s primarily an online adventure game, Nokia Game uses all kinds of media: TV spots, short message text on a player’s cell phone, mysterious phone calls, and hidden messages in newspaper, and magazine ads, in addition to the Internet. All of these elements work together to tell the story. Players have to interpret the game clues they are provided as though they are the main character in the story.
Let the Games Begin
Following a pilot project in 1999 in the Netherlands, the game kicked offin 18 countries in November 2000. By way of introduction, consumers across Europe were told only that “Nokia Game is com-ing—be ready—subscribe on the Internet.” Their attention piqued, nearly half a million people registered for the game, not knowing exactly what it was they were registering for. They knew it would last three weeks. And they knew it would be an all-media adventure. That was it. On the day prior to the official start date, registered players received a cryptic mobile phone message from a woman who would become one of the main characters in the adventure. She told them, “I need your help in the coming weeks to safeguard the future of mobile gaming.”
The game was afoot!
The next day players received an e-mail message directing them to tune into a TV spot, which in turn directed them to a Web address and then to a newspaper. Thus began a series of messages, found in newspapers, heard on the radio or Internet, left on mobile phones. . . . The evolving story line also included communication between players, who essentially “lived the adventure” for three weeks, day and night. All
500,000 players started the game at the same time and lived the same
Breaking the shackles of traditional campaigns is absolute in the CBI strategy. You must become an “extreme thinker." Look for extreme business solutions. Think of yourself as an explorer in a new territory pushing to extreme regions to discover new lands to settle.
—John Dahlin, Euro RSCG Tatham Partners,
Salt Lake City
The Entertainment Factor
story in their own languages. The buzz generated around the brand even led to the creation of some 30 “shadow sites”—Internet sites that players created on their own to discuss conspiracy theories and share information.
With Nokia Game, client and agency succeeded in their mission to connect mobile consumers to the Nokia brand, not just as a company that manufactures handsets but as a provider of meaningful and entertaining mobile services. They wanted to change the way consumers think of Nokia by delivering on a brand promise that said this product helps you shape your life and connects you to others and to the world around you. The game did just that. And for good measure, the integrated multimedia campaign picked up a Gold Lion Direct award at the 2002 International Advertising Festival in Cannes.
Before You Leap: consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages every day. Why not shape that chaos into something entertaining? Provide fresh and satisfying experiences on an ongoing basis, and you will soon have a loyal customer base. But a word of caution: Entertain, don’t bombard.
A Shift in Mind-Set
I was drawn to Nokia as an example of a CBI by one factor that will be increasingly important in the years to come: its global nature. Nokia set out to create a community, much as Guinness set out to build a community of young people around Witnness rock festivals. Both brands used entertainment to connect consumers to their brands. Both brilliantly understood the community-building potential of the Internet. But what’s intriguing about Nokia is that it was able to do it simultaneously across 18 countries. People from different time zones and in different countries were comparing notes and sharing clues and even getting together in cafes and bars, all the while playing exactly the same game at exactly the same time. Nokia Game achieved the kind of cross-border brand awareness that is invaluable, and it did it through a truly interactive form of entertainment.