Ericsson employs Ursula, the bear, to generate brand name awareness in U.S

Ericsson employs Ursula, the bear, to generate brand name awareness in U.S – includes related article

As the cellular industry moves from a technology-driven to a consumer-driven market, marketing strategies must be shifted to focus on brand name awareness. In a consumer-driven market, technological differences fade and the company image becomes crucial.

While some equipment vendors like Motorola Inc. always have concentrated on brand name promotion, Ericsson recently began a campaign to introduce itself to U.S. consumers.

“It has never been a part of the strategic plan to tell people who we are,” said Michael Parker, vice president of marketing in the Americas for Ericsson. “Now, the company has recognized the need to tell people who Ericsson is and what we stand for.”

The realization came when research found that where the Ericsson name was well-known, Ericsson did extremely well. In markets like Poland and Brazil, Ericsson “discovered that brand awareness in those countries is fairly high and we command a big share of those markets,” Parker said. But among United States consumers, Parker said “even though we have done very well, we are far from being at the top.”

Ericsson decided to launch a massive marketing plan to reach American consumers using a grizzly bear. “We know that safety is an important element and [we decided to] show it in a whimsical way,” said Parker. “The bear does two things. The first element is surprise to make people stop and say: ‘What is this.’ The second element is to move people to read the copy and learn about Ericsson and show the relevance [Ericsson cellular phones have] to their lives.

“We believe the bear [campaign] not only helps with brand awareness but presents a warm, friendly kind of face of the company,” Parker said. “It is a way of showing humor and grabbing attention.”

Ericsson’s American company, Ericsson Inc., began as a joint venture between Ericsson and GE. Ericsson owned 60 percent of the venture until GE sold 20 percent of its 40 percent holding. As of Jan. 1, 1995, GE became an investor in Ericsson Inc. Ericsson continues to use the GE brand name on some of its cellular phones. Parker said that GE-labeled phones make up about 45 percent of Ericsson’s U.S. phone sales. Using the GE brand initially, Ericsson was able to take more time to develop a brand campaign to build the Ericsson name awareness across America, he said.

“We are fortunate in that we have two brands – Ericsson and GE, which allow us to do different things,” Parker said.

Parker compared Ericsson’s task to Motorola’s strategies, saying that Motorola’s task is different because it has been concentrating on building brand name awareness from the beginning. Because of that “there is less of a need to be extremely focused in their message,” he said.

The concentration on American consumers also stems from the fact that the U.S. is still the largest subscriber market. By 2000, the world market is expected to reach 20 million and Ericsson plans to obtain 20 percent to 30 percent of that.

RELATED ARTICLE: Ericsson Brand Awareness Campaign

The campaign consists of advertisements broadcast on A&E, CNN, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, USA, Lifetime and The Weather Channel. Ads will be placed in consumer magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, Business Week, Home, Fortune, Forbes, Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home. The ads demonstrate the need for a reliable cellular phone by featuring a grizzly bear disrupting a campsite.

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