Nokia was founded in 1865 by mining engineer Fredrik Idestamas as a wood-pulp mill in southern Finland, and focused on industries from paper to rubber before settling into the telecom role for which it became famous. After the company’s brand began gaining strength in Europe and Asia in the early 1990s, its leadership turned their eyes to the United States. Big ad campaigns followed, along with promotions, product placement and event marketing. And when the cellphone market shifted from primarily a business tool to a mass-market consumer device, its efforts reached a new level. Nokia sponsored college football’s 1997 Sugar Bowl, for example, preceding the game with a national promotion culminating in a halftime contest giving three people a chance to win $1 million by throwing a football at a designated button on a 15-foot inflatable cellular phone.
In 1998, Nokia started off the year by running this corporate spot during Super Bowl XXXII by The Richards Group in Dallas and starring the comedian Drew Carey. Nokia did not return to the Super Bowl but continued its push in 1999 with a campaign estimated at $20 million to $25 million, the company’s largest marketing effort to date, also by the Richards Group. TV spots began during the 1999 Emmy Awards, at which all winners and presenters were given the company's sleek, chrome-colored 8800 series phone. Nokia also placed free-standing inserts in Sunday newspapers to publicize the show.
The Richards Group continued to handle the account into 2004. Smartphones from Apple and Samsung later made Nokia’s sector increasingly difficult, and Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile-phone business for $7.2 billion in 2014.Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.