Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Interview with Kimmo Lipponen, Director of Corporate Marketing, Nokia

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Interview with Kimmo Lipponen, Director of Corporate Marketing, Nokia

Article excerpt



Kimmo Lipponen is the Director of Corporate Marketing for Nokia, where he is responsible for global Corporate Sponsorships and Corporate Citizenship programs. Here he talks to Christine Green of the University of Texas about sponsorship, corporate citizenship strategies, and the linkages among them.

CG: To begin, could you discuss your role as the Director of Corporate Marketing for Nokia, and what it is that you do in that role?

KL: Nokia is a very decentralized, nonhierarchical organization with 60,000 employees worldwide and a corporate headquarters that is very lean and small. Corporate marketing, as one of several Nokia-wide global functions, is handling corporate reputation and corporate image-related issues like the web-site and corporate sponsorships. The corporate sponsorship part is my playground. I am responsible for the corporate sponsorships function. After saying that, that doesn't mean that my team is operationally running our global sponsored programs. For example, our execution of commercial sponsorships is mainly run by our regions and business units. We do general policy work that develops the general guidelines for our sponsorships to operate, but all of the execution and operations in commercial sponsorships happen in our regions and business units.

CG: Sponsorship decisions would be made at the regional level rather than by head office?

KL: It depends. We (head office) are involved in all global sponsorship decisions. Of course, if we have any proposals from the global sponsorship programs, the evaluation process is driven by us. We get feedback, then, from the regions and business units. But today we are not, for example, running any global commercial sponsorship programs like the Olympics, World Cup football, or Formula 1. But we are running a few multinational sponsorship programs like the Nokia Snowboard World Cup. The Nokia Sugar Bowl, from our perspective, is a national program, even though it is nationwide in the US. And Nokia runs plenty of national sponsorship programs. So we are one of the strongest brands in the world right now.

We have an unusual way of looking at sponsorships. For example, we feel that from a long-term corporate reputation perspective our corporate citizenship work and what we're doing in local communities plays a more important role today than the short-term tactical type of commercial sponsorships. They both have very important roles in our brand building and in our corporate image building, but how they are managed and what different organizational units do the managing varies. We think it is clearly defined, but it's differently defined than what companies are usually doing. So, our main idea is to decentralize functions as close to the practical operations as possible. Corporate marketing is willing to give policy work support, put very basic guidelines in place, and also help the business units in terms of measuring results, sharing best practices from different countries and from different regions, and trying to learn in the process of doing, for example, sport sponsorships.

CG: You say that your corporate citizenship and your sponsorship programs are working together to build your brand. Can you explain how the two link to one another?

KL: Our consumer brand is a very valuable asset. It has been valued as the fifth most valuable brand in the world today. It's a very valuable, if not the most valuable, asset we have. And, of course, every single marketing communication-related action has to also build value for the brand. According to our definition and our working practices, commercial sponsorships--including entertainment-type sponsorships, product placements in movies, music, sports and, in some cases, also the arts--are something that our consumer brand building business unit today, Nokia Mobile Phones, is striving for.

But Nokia is not only mobile phones. …

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