Motorola's CMO Explains Why Ashton Kutcher Is Helping the Brand Build Smartphones

Adrienne Hayes lays out the marketing strategy

Ashton Kutcher brings his love of tech to Motorola. YouTube

From enlisting Ashton Kutcher for commercials and product development to using mobile and social media to target people in the market for a new phone, Motorola's 2014 acquisition by Lenovo is starting to take shape this year.

"We've had a year now, and more really, to think about our different strengths and how we can come together as one brand, so we're ready to finally do that this year," said Adrienne Hayes, Motorola's CMO and chief creative officer.

"Now we have two sub-brands that appeal to two different parts of the mobile spectrum: Moto has been and will continue to be very trend-setting in terms of bringing new innovations to the marketplace. With the Vibe brand, that's our mainstream brand."

Ahead of Mobile World Congress next week where the company will launch a new smartphone—and where 100,000 mobile execs will gather for the week-long conference—Adweek chatted with Hayes about the brand's marketing strategy for 2016.

What is Lenovo's marketing strategy for Moto and Vibe this year?
It's about the collective power and brand recognition. You'll see us embrace a unified, go-to market strategy in how we sell our products in those categories, which is new.

In the mobile space, that's where we can most hyper-target [people] in the market for new phones and who are in the mindset of trying something new. That's the sweet spot for us as more of an emerging mobile brand in some markets.

Mobile brands are known for quick-hitting ads that focus on new device features. Is that going to be used in Moto's marketing?
We go much deeper than that. It's not about the features and functionality—it's really about a relationship.

The phones are much more personalized than any other phone in the marketplace, everything from putting your own imprint on it in the design process to using your own customized voice in recognizing just your voice. That's the kind of brand we want Moto to be.

That's not to say that we're not going to be bringing some amazing features to the marketplace, but I think those things are pretty fleeting. It's a constant game of one-upmanship.

A couple of years ago, Motorola reportedly poured $500 million into a traditional campaign to promote Moto X. Are we going to see that kind of splashy campaign from you in the future?
We were basically reintroducing Moto and trying to break through some of the legacy perceptions, at least in terms of being an old stalwart in the industry.

I think it was successful in doing so—I don't think we ever spent as much as everyone speculated, but it's always fine for people to have their imaginations.

It was a little bit more traditional, but at the time we needed to reintroduce people to something entirely new, so it made sense to do bigger, awareness-generating tactics like television.

We're dropping a new campaign in the U.S. [during the Grammy's]. We had some streaming ads during the Super Bowl broadcast on CBS to support the Droid franchise featuring Ashton Kutcher, who's long been a friend to Lenovo and is now helping us.

So, we'll use TV for that and continue to use it when it makes strategic sense.

Why use a recurring celebrity like Ashton Kutcher?
Ashton is certainly a celebrity, but he's also a technology enthusiast who appreciates startup culture and mentality.

He originally got involved with Lenovo because he saw that spirit in them. He's definitely not just a pitchman—he's working with us on product development now, as he did with Yoga from Lenovo. 

Motorola has also done quite a bit with influencers and social media in recent years. How heavily are you leaning on digital as a part of your marketing?
It's [more] targeted, but also really conducive to deeper storytelling.

With these products, they're so deep in terms of their functionality that it benefits us to tell a story in a much more robust way than 30 seconds—things like using the quick capture.

And, it allows us to have a dialogue and helping people understand what the choices are. We prefer to do that because it's more engaging.

How big of an event is Mobile World Congress for you?
It's a really efficient place to get [through] a lot of these meetings and discussions all at once. And of course it's a beautiful setting, and you can't beat the food.

We are going to announce one of our new Vibe products there.

To me, it's definitely felt like a true industry event versus the likes of CES or South by Southwest. South by Southwest is incredibly catering to advertisers at this point, and you see a lot of that at CES, too. I feel like Mobile World Congress is a 'roll up your sleeves and get down to business' show, still.

Adweek Blog Network