Interviews

Mark Newton, VP of European Marketing, Nokia

Mark is the head of marketing for Nokia in Europe, responsible for development of the Nokia brand in the region, the marketing strategy and the performance of all marketing investments.

Tom Holmes

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Mark is the head of marketing for Nokia in Europe, responsible for development of the Nokia brand in the region, the marketing strategy and the performance of all marketing investments. His role extends across all customer, distributor, consumer and online marketing activities.

He joined Nokia in March 2012 from Travelocity, where he was VP and Chief Marketing Officer for lastminute.com. He formerly worked for American Express, where he had international responsibilities for online marketing and customer service.

Mark is a Mentor at the Marketing Academy.

 

Creativebrief: Mark, as VP of European Marketing at Nokia what is your primary focus?

Mark Newton: At the end of the day, selling great Nokia devices to consumers is my first and most important job. But there’s a lot to do on that journey, not least to change the perception of the Nokia brand in many markets. We’re a very different company than the one that most people remember – the one that sold them their first phone.

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned Nokia, lastminute.com, American Express and OgilvyOne, what have been the high points?

Mark Newton: I’m a psychologist by training and curious by nature. I like fun places to work and I like to change things – in all of the companies you mention I’ve been blessed with leaders who’ve let me do both. Getting lastminute.com to focus back on where it historically had a market growth position (last minute travel and top secret hotels) was the highpoint of my recent career. I was lucky enough to join lastminute.com just as it had created a very new team who were determined to continue the successful differentiation of the company in what was otherwise a brutally commoditised market – there’s no better job than reinventing from the inside to get back to growth. Nokia is also in a time of change, but I’m privileged to be part of that process – I think I have the best job in marketing.

Creativebrief: Along the way, have there been individual marketers who particularly impressed and inspired you?

Mark Newton: I owe my career to so many people I’ve worked with over the years, and I will do a horrible job if I attempt to list them all. However, two of the more inspirational people were Mike Hounsell who was the genius behind AmEx’s original Centurion Card (though many claimed subsequently to have birthed that one), and Richard Quigley who lead both the original Blue Card concept at AmEx and also that company’s eventual digital transformation. I picked these two leaders because they both taught me the immense importance of getting the product right – something that was also critical at lastminute.com and is also a large part of Nokia’s transformation. We spend a lot of time in marketing worrying about communications – rightly so, but in most industries it’s the consumer who sells your product over the long term, not your marketing communications.

Creativebrief: You have a Masters in Psychology, does it help your career?

Mark Newton: I decided to study psychology after I became a marketer, and once I’d decided that I wanted to build my career specifically in marketing. Really two things attracted me to psychology – the obvious one is applying the why and how consumers make decisions to marketing problems. The less obvious one is the analytical component of psychology. The “non Freudian” end of psychology is an applied science, full of measurement, thesis testing, statistics and modelling, and I treat marketing as the same thing. One thing my training at American Express taught me is while you can’t model everything, it’s almost always better to model something. 

Creativebrief: What are the main products in your portfolio and how are they performing?

Mark Newton: We have two main products, Lumia which is our new high performance smartphone, and Asha which covers affordable smartphones and mobile phones. We also have Here our navigation brand. The emphasis of Nokia on the products varies by market, but we’re comfortable with our trajectory in all of these categories. Probably the most flattering thing I can say publically about them is that they are now being wildly imitated by the competition. That’s something that hasn’t happened with Nokia products for a number of years and we take it as a good sign that we’re recovering our innovation edge.

Creativebrief: Can you give me some examples of recent advertising campaigns you have been responsible for and the results achieved?

Mark Newton: The most recent campaign I’ve got my hands dirty with is the launch our Windows Phone 8 Lumia 920, 820 and 620 devices, and its evolution. We’re currently in our third set of campaign changes and one of the things I’m most proud of is how comparatively fast Nokia can change its advertising based on real consumer response. To do this we’ve had to create innovations in creative, logistics and sampling methodology, but we think what we have now works. I’m not going to talk about individual market results, but we’re satisfied with our trajectory and preference change in the market segments we’re prioritising.

Creativebrief: What are the main challenges for your sector/category over the next 12 months?

Mark Newton: They are myriad, so maybe I’ll restrict myself to just the part of the Consumer Electronics category that I’m working in. That category is currently dominated by two main players. These companies are formidable competitors, and our challenge is to differentiate ourselves from them in order to establish a new and different position with our products. At its core this is primarily why Nokia chose to make Lumia a windows phone, and why it chose to make that product look so different in design, colour and function than other smartphones on the market. As I look at the rest of the sector, I’m sure one competitor in particular will be keen to recover their innovation credentials and we’re anticipating a number of in and out of category moves from them. The Android operating sysyem used by some other products is more interesting. A category dominated by a single profitable player, creating massive commoditisation and price erosion at the low end and a fractured platform that can’t stretch the consumer experience across low and high end products. What can I say? For now Android’s a very salient consumer product with momentum, but for the long term  there are better solutions for the consumer.

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next 5 years?

Mark Newton: I think we’re living in a post digital world these days, to the extent I’m beginning to ask if it’s even helpful to separate that channel. I can build the same analytical competence in digital response as I can traditional media econometrics – we need smart people who understand attribution regardless of channel. What’s more interesting to me, especially as a market challenger, is non-traditional models – content advertising, consumer PR, advocacy, social and other mechanisms to help consumers tell their own stories. Social is just beginning to emerge from “fandom” and into influence and I see the potential this creates. Other areas of advocacy need a lot more work, and we spend time evolving our activities here. There are also lots of dark arts going on in the internet review space that I think would benefit from having a light shined upon them, We’re proud of our Finnish values which direct our behaviour, much as we’re proud of our environmentalism and labour practices, particularly in developing markets. 

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated’ agency approach or specialist agencies by individual discipline?

Mark Newton: Increasingly we’re blurring the lines, because it’s not as straightforward as I would like it to be. Finding a generalist agency that can do the job of specialist agencies is hard, so frequently you end up just with an average agency and that problem is multiplied when you work across multiple markets. In many places we’re solving this by building competence and bench strength internally, particularly as it relates to media analytics, but also areas of creative and other online spend.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use local agencies by market or international/global agencies?

Mark Newton: I need to work with international agencies because of the number of markets I work across but I can’t say I’m a happy camper. And that’s actually no reflection on the agencies who we work with who are best in class in their field. It’s a reflection of the problem above – working across multiple markets is not good for getting the best specific local market results. Too much averaging happens along with the challenges of both cultural and language barriers.

Creativebrief: When choosing agencies were you ever influenced by awards?

Mark Newton: I’d say inversely. Ten years ago, people used to misquote David Ogilvy’s comment about agencies who had time to do awards, not having time to sell products. I don’t know if the same philosophy still exists, and it’s probably over simplified when it comes to creative motivation, but I like the thought – show me the results not the awards. For the same reason I’m risk adverse about agencies with very frequent pitch histories. Not only am I asking why, I’m also worried all the intellectual horsepower is going into someone who is not paying the bills.

Creativebrief: What challenges do you face, managing day-to-day agency relationships?

Mark Newton: I’m sure everyone struggles with getting different agencies to work together, but one of my larger concerns is how much data to release. Really to do their jobs properly agencies need the same degree of transparency that you’d give to employees and that comes with difficulties around confidentiality, particularly in a sector like ours where innovation drives rapid adoption.

Creativebrief: How often do you look at new agencies or review your roster?

Mark Newton: Rarely. I’d far rather figure out how to make an existing agency work than I would find a new one, for continuity and history. Sometimes though it just can’t be done, and actually I’ve found rarely that’s because of a creative difference – more frequently it’s due to a competence gap that can’t be overcome. 

Creativebrief: How do you monitor and stay-in-touch with the agency market to ensure you work with the best?

Mark Newton: Mostly networking with peers, but I’m a big believer in history of results. 

Creativebrief: Do you/have you used intermediaries in the past? What are your observations?

Mark Newton: I’m sure they have a role, but an agency is either a strategic decision or it’s a purchasing problem. If the latter my purchasing team can manage selection better than a third party. If the former, then I need to be vested in the decision myself. Possibly I’m just in the wrong place to see the value.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Do you think there is a better/more modern way?

Mark Newton: Yes, there has to be a better way, particularly as I really don’t think marketing is about the latest big idea any more than I think personality is about the latest suit you wear. Part of the reason I’m adverse to pitches is I don’t think they’re the best way to get to the best work – they’re by definition point in time, and the participating agencies always have poor access to data on which to make decisions. Inherently pitches don’t help you with historic or famous ideas that need years to come together, not single campaigns. I have far more frequently developed new ideas with internal agencies than I have pitched for competing ideas externally. 

Creativebrief: Would you ever consider awarding an agency business without a pitch? What would they have to do / demonstrate?

Mark Newton: Possibly – and have done so in the past. But I needed to know a lot about what I was buying so that I could make sure I was getting good value.

Creativebrief: What was the most impressive agency presentation you have ever seen?

Mark Newton: Not a creative agency – a researcher came at us with a completely different way to think about the market, and consumer needs. The idea wasn’t fully baked, but we paid for it to be evolved.

References

Marketing Week

Nokia looks to boost advocacy with new role

By Lara O'Reilly, 11 Apr 2013 

Nokia has promoted its global social media editor in chief Thomas Messett to the new role of head of digital marketing and advocacy as the phone manufacturer looks to encourage more online conversation around the brand from its biggest fans.

Messett will be charged with turning more Nokia handset owners - particularly its “top 2 per cent” of potential influencers - into stronger advocates for the brand as the company looks to prioritise people instead of platforms such as Facebook or Twitter within its digital strategy.

He told Marketing Week: “People don’t buy a phone because they follow [a brand] on Twitter. It’s because they were recommended by a friend, or saw a Lumia 920 review or searched for ‘best camera phone’. Our focus on advocacy is a natural step on from the work we have already done using real customers in our marketing.”

He will report into Mark Newton, who joined Nokia last year from Lastminute.com as its vice president of European marketing. His role in-part replaces that of Chris Schaumann, who was Nokia’s director of advocacy for Europe and formed its “advocacy practice” before being promoted to become global vice president of digital, social marketing and CRM in November.

In his time as global social media editor in chief, Messett led the launch of Nokia’s “industry first” Twitter app and opening up its API for consumers to 3D print back covers for the Lumia 820 device.

Prior to joining Nokia in 2011, Messett was a senior manager on the “social presence team” at word of mouth agency 1000 Heads.

Nokia registered its first quarterly profit in 18 months in January, giving a signal its long-term strategy to tie its fortunes to the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system could pay off.