Jerri DeVard joins Nokia as EVP and Chief Marketing Officer

Published by Rafe Blandford at 17:15 UTC, November 24th 2010

Nokia has announced it has appointed Jerri DeVard as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. A new Marketing and Communication organisation will be formed under the CMO, which will bring together Nokia's Marketing, Brand Management, Communications and select Industry collaboration activities. DeVard will sit on the Nokia Group Executive Board, underlining the seniority and importance of her position, but will report to Niklas Savander, EVP of Nokia's Markets unit.

Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop said:

"I am delighted to welcome Jerri to the Nokia team. Her experience and proven track record from a wide range of consumer businesses will be a great boost to increasing consumer focus and will bring fresh thinking as we strive for a clearer value proposition for our consumers and continue to build the Nokia brand."

Nokia's head of Nokia's Markets unit and EVP, Niklas Savander said:

"With Jerri at the helm, we expect the integrated marketing and communications activities to increase the impact of our communications and engagement with consumers and other stakeholders across the industry and across the globe."

Devard has more than 25 years of marketing experience across a number of leading consumer brands. She is best known for her time at Verizon (where she was Senior Vice President for Marketing and Brand Management from 2003-2007), and Citigroup (CMO for the groups e-consumer business), but has also had positions at Revlon, Harrah's Entertainment and the Pillsbury Company.

Most recently, she was Principal of the New York-based DeVard Marketing Group, where she provided counsel on leveraging technology for marketing effectiveness to major consumer product companies including Microsoft and Allstate Insurance. She was also involved in fund raising for the Barack Obama Presidential campaign.

Nokia brand, marketing and communications

The appointment of both a CMO and the formation of the new Market and Communication organisation reflects a higher profile for marketing and communication activities within the company. 

While Nokia has built one of the world's most recognisable brands over the last 20 years, it has recently seen its brand value fall. The primary reason for this has been a failure to perform at the higher end of the market, in the face of increased competition from companies like Google, Apple and RIM. Nokia's performance in the mid and low tiers has remained strong, but the lack of a high end halo was, and remains, a potential long term concern.

While much of the explanation for Nokia's high-end malaise lies in the product mix and strategy, marketing and communication activities have also had a role to play. For example, in general, much of the the US-based technology media is perceived, both internally and externally, as somewhat hostile to Nokia. Nokia, despite its continuing position as the number one device manufacturer, has struggled to command the interest and attention of the media in the same way that companies such as Google and Apple have been able to.

This has, in part, created a relatively common perception that Nokia is a company on the decline. In reality, Nokia remains one of the most successful companies in mobile. However, in communication and marketing activities, the perception of a company can be just as important as the reality. Even the above offers only a simplified picture of the value around Nokia's brand. Notably, the perception of the company varies widely in different markets; for example, while it is weak in the US, it remains strong in India.

Therefore, a key task for DeVard will be to nurture both brand and marketing efforts as Nokia seeks to retain its current strengths in the low end and mid-tier, while also re-engaging at the high end of the market, with MeeGo and Symbian-based products. At the same time, Nokia will continue its evolution into the software and services space (an Internet company), which will have profound implications for its brand, marketing, and communication activities. 

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