Nokia has teamed with Wired magazine to launch a global debate about technology and its impact on humanity.
The year-long multi-million dollar partnership sees Wired create an editorial website devoted to examining where technology is taking humanity and its role in our daily lives.
The site, Make Tech Human, is part of a global push by Nokia to generate awareness of the brand, which has been quiet since selling its mobile phone business to Microsoft in 2014.
The iconic Finnish company, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is shifting from a focus on devices to become the leading enabler of telecom networks and connectivity.
Key to this strategy is to remind people of the Nokia brand and to align it with technology and connectivity, rather than with outdated handsets.
Barry French, head of marketing and corporate affairs at Nokia, told AdAge the site was "really both about showing that Nokia is still not just alive but strong and also contributing to resolving some big global issues."
"Although technology has ushered in an extremely exciting era of unprecedented productivity, convenience, collaboration and creativity, it's also shaken up our security, our privacy and our jobs in many ways. It's time to start a conversation to ensure that technology serves humanity and not the other way around."
The move sees Nokia join other brands such as GE, American Express and McDonald’s who have launched editorial focused content-marketing sites. However, unlike other brands Nokia have opted against building their own site and opted to partner with Wired, which is arguably the leading technology publication.
The strategy behind this approach aims to bolster Nokia's technology credentials and help align the brand with cutting edge and future focused values.
Make Tech Human content is being created through Wired’s in-house content marketing division Brand Lab. The content will be created by some of the leading technology writers and experts to create legitimate and thought-provoking content for readers. There will also be a video series featuring interviews with leading technology thinkers. The content will cover AI, surveillance technology, hacking of corporations and government, pandemics, climate change, the wealth gap and robots.
The site will be supported by a series of events, such as an exclusive dinner hosted by Nokia and Wired for the tech community at the TED conference in Vancouver. Nokia also held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session with Tim Berners-Lee, a founder of the World Wide Web.
The move is brave and bold but it had to be if Nokia was going to get traction. As Wired publisher Kim Kelleher, said: "The goal is to be provocative, have a debate and a large conversation."
Nokia is not looking to play it safe with the topics, that would defeat the purpose. In a bid to put the brand back on the map, Nokia needs to go hard, create a stir, perhaps create some controversy and make some noise to generate interest and awareness.
It’s a savvy strategy, Nokia is looking to insert its brand into a conversation so often dominated by Google, Apple, Microsoft or IBM. With nothing to lose, Nokia have gone big and the Wired partnership will certainly grant them awareness and exposure. They need it.
The brand is largely remembered as a handset or device – after all for many people a Nokia was their first mobile phone – this needs to change. Nokia has seen the future and it’s not about the devices, it’s all about the connections. Nokia wants to be the company providing the infrastructure for those connections.
As Nokia’s Chief Executive Rajeev Suri has previously said: “We see technology evolving to a point where nearly all people and billions upon billions of devices are connected, and where software holds all those connections together.”
This focus means the brand needs to be positioned as a technology leader, which also means it has a lot of catching up to do and to do this it needs to get a greater understanding of what people want from technology so it can meet their needs and enable their dreams.
Which is the real engine driving Make Tech Human. Nokia is looking to have a frank and open conversation about the future of technology and what it means to society and to the individual. The goal here is to get under people's skins and gain credible insights into how people think and feel about technology and the future. The campaign aims to serve as a giant global survey to find out the key issues and topics on peoples minds.
The timing is perfect, recent statements by leading science and technology thinkers such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have stirred up the debate about humans and technology and the role of artificial intelligence (AI), which means Nokia is well placed to get a foot hold into this debate.
Nokia's strategy is to lead the debate about the human possibilities of technology and to ensure the brand is front and center for any conversation about the future, as the site says, "There's no time like the present to shape the future."
Will it work? This is certainly one to watch.