Zander CMO Frost Remodel Motorola
November 1, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
you want a really cool marketing job, do you take the offer from
Nike, Apple or Motorola?
After listening to Geoffrey Frost, CMO of Schaumburg, Ill.-based
Motorola Inc., I’d take the Motorola job, hands down.
No one has ever accused me of being cool. I’m more comfortable
in Brooks Brothers than Armani. Oakley sunglasses would be wasted
on me; I buy my shades at Walgreen’s. But I want a Motorola
RAZR for my birthday. That sleek, black, thin, iconic design is
way cooler than the clunky Nokia phone I carry.
I’ll run in Nikes, but my eye is on a Motorola Q, a wireless
e-mail device equipped with a qwerty keyboard that is going to
give RIM’s BlackBerry a run for its money.
Yes, I have an Apple iPod mini. I like it, but the new Motorola
ROKR, which combines iTunes’ music download capability and
cell phone service, is the wave of the future. Who wants to carry
multiple devices? It makes the pants pockets too bulky and uncool.
I’ve got enough bulk with the Nokia as it is.
about Apple’s new iPod nano? Well, Motorola’s CEO
Ed Zander might have lost his cool when he told Macworld’s
Jim Dalrymple, “Screw the nano.”
Zander, “What the hell does the nano do? Who listens to
1,000 songs? People are going to want devices that do more than
just play music.” I agree with Zander. Go with a ROKR instead
of a nano. ROKR’s what I want under my Christmas tree.
think it’s cool that Motorola’s CEO is willing to
speak his mind and be forthright. Zander’s candor makes
him credible and adds to Motorola’s cool factor.
Speaking before the Business Marketing Association in Chicago,
Frost put it all in perspective, saying, “Cell phones are
the new running shoes.”
Frost should know. Before joining Motorola he was global director
of advertising and brand communications for Beaverton, Ore.-based
Nike Inc. He helped Nike founder Phil Knight make the Nike swoosh
ubiquitous. Now Frost is making the Motorola batwing logo the
global essence of cool.
understands his market. He knows kids these days are more concerned
with the mobile devices they carry in their pockets and purses
than the shoes they wear on their feet. The world is going mobile.
“The Internet is going airborne,” Zander says.
As the broadband Internet takes to the air, the market for mobile
devices is skyrocketing. Consider this: Motorola introduced the
cell phone in 1983. Twenty years later there were 1 billion cellular
connections worldwide. Last September, that number hit the 2 billion
mark, according to cellular industry researcher Wireless Intelligence,
based in London. By 2010 it will grow to 3 billion.
wonder Motorola’s Zander was exuberant as he spoke at TiECON
2005, a technology industry conclave held recently in Chicago.
Pointing to his suite of handheld mobile devices, Zander said,
“We are going to ship 800 million of these things worldwide
all that growth, it’s no wonder there’s an epic marketing
battle taking shape in mobile devices. That struggle will make
the competition between Nike, Reebok, Adidas, New Balance and
Converse look like child’s play. Motorola, Nokia and Samsung
are fighting for global dominance. The fight may soon spill over
and include Apple, Microsoft and many others.
going to win? I say Motorola, because Frost and Zander get
marketing. They know it’s about cool brand image and iconic
product design every bit as much as it’s about engineering
“best in class” products. Motorola has always had
brilliant engineering. Now they have marketing sizzle, as well.
get me wrong: Frost is a by-the-numbers marketer. He systematically
tracks the Motorola “cool factor” through global research
studies, and shares his numbers regularly with the industry analysts.
Frost also monitors the buzz on Motorola on the blogs and message
boards. He watches the status of his brand. Motorola is up eight
places to No. 73 on Interbrand’s list of best-regarded brands.
He’s an expert at seeding his products in just the right
places. Motorola’s black RAZR was the toast of Hollywood.
Bootlegged lab models were selling on eBay before their release.
A new pink version of the RAZR is being used by just a few celebrities.
some executives might shy away from controversy, Frost knows better.
He realizes you can’t just declare yourself cool--it’s
a title others bestow on you. He knows the importance of taking
risks and he’s willing to polarize his audience. That’s
all part of establishing Motorola as a cool, winning brand.
a recent Motorola ad, two male executives are in a meeting. One
picks up a cell phone call. Looking at the screen, he sees a video
message from his scantily clad wife suggesting he come home. The
ad is provocative without crossing the line, using clever humor
and sophistication to get its message across. The ad is vintage
What’s interesting here is that Motorola--long a product
innovator--is willing to be innovative and take risks in marketing.
That bodes well for a company Frost is fond of calling “the
world’s first high-tech startup.”
77 years, Motorola’s been cranking out breakthrough products.
When the company was founded, radios were large pieces of living
room furniture. Paul Galvin bet the company on the idea he could
miniaturize a radio and fit it in the dashboard of a car, revolutionizing
our parents’ driving experience.
traveling in Europe in the 1930s, Galvin asked War Department
representatives how they would communicate in future conflicts.
“They planned to string wires between rows of trenches,”
says Robert Galvin, retired CEO of the company and son of the
founder. Recognizing the threat from Hitler’s Germany, Paul
Galvin bet the company on a new innovation and the walkie-talkie
two-way radio was created. It helped win World War II.
today’s flatter, interconnected world, Motorola is once
again a visionary leader. Tomorrow’s success will come from
brain power. “We’re in the ‘brain gain’
economy,” Zander says, which brings me back to Frost, who
has beaucoup brain power. Here’s a CMO who is pragmatic
and analytical but can catalyze a global organization and build
a brand. He’s comfortable with risk. He has a sense of style
and cool. Frost is energizing and enlightening. He’s the
right person to help Motorola compete in the brain gain economy.
more thing--Frost is making Motorola a cool place to be a marketer.
Forget about Nike and Apple.
Krauss is a partner with Marion Consulting Partners based in Highland
Park, Ill., and can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Marionpartners.com