ESPOO, Finland – The Nokia World of 1967 was very different from that of 1867. The company had transformed into a conglomerate with global ambitions for its wide range of products from paper, rubber tires and boots, communication cables to electronic goods including TVs computers and robotics.The scale of the operation was beyond the lurid imaginations of New York and London ad men intoxicated by, among other influences, their new-found power as the hidden persuaders of the consumer age.
So there was a bit of a culture clash when self-made marketing guru Mostin Powers flew to Helsinki back then to make his pitch for the account thought to be worth one million dollars. Imagine how the newly-formed board, headed by Björn Westerlund, cringed as Powers launched into his cheesy marketing patter.
We have managed to piece together an eye-witness account of the meeting from people who worked at Nokia at the time. Our fictional character called Lars Hanssrupp wasn’t impressed, especially as it was getting late on Friday, by the time the guest eventually arrived.
“There was talk in the works canteen that one of the Beatles had come to visit the paper factory. I was getting anxious because I had my pay packet in my pocket and was keen to get home because my wife was running short of money, yet I’d been told to wait around and assist with a presentation from a visitor.
“I’d already worked overtime that week and managed to earn €10. So I wasn’t really interested in earning more. And I didn’t believe that our visitor could possibly be one of the Fab Four. After all, what could one of the Beatles possibly be doing at the mill just outside Helsinki? Unless of course he wanted to write a song about wood.
“I can’t imagine a song called Finnish Wood could possibly sell. I must admit though, when I saw him, he did look like one of the characters on the Sergeant Pepper’s album cover. And when I saw our new boss’s reaction to I knew it wasn’t going to go well. Nevertheless, I helped my colleague to move the presentation board into the board room. After a brief introduction, Mostin Powers began his speech.
‘Mr Westerland, ladies and gentlemen, forgive me if I don’t speak your language, I’m told you are all Finnish. Well, you might be, but I’m here to tell you, this company is barely started. I’m going to Nok your socks off, with my presentation today, baby.
‘This company is going to be a Nokout, yeah! What do people think when they hear Nokia? I’ll tell you what they think. They think love. It’s what everyone thinks about all the time. So I figure that if people are feeling love, they are actually thinking Nokia.
‘And that makes Nokia very sexy, baby. Yeah! Grrrrrrrr. My researcher tells me that you make rubber, lots of it. And you make boots. Back in London we call them “kinky boots”. And everyone is wearing them, even the Prime Minister. So he’s what we do. We get some grrroovey Finnish chicks and we dress them in minis and some of your thigh-high boots, with the headline: Nokia self out.’
“At which point Powers uncovered a giant picture of a blonde model wearing a giant pair of Nokia rubber boots and little else. What followed was an embarrassing silence that threatened to swallow us all up and seemed to last for a whole minute.
“Eventually a red-faced Mr Westerlund exclaimed: ‘Firstly, Mr Powers, we call the thigh-high boots galoshes, and they are used mainly by fishermen and sewage workers, which may well make them suitable for wading around the cesspit of your mind. But we make far more than rubber items.
‘And we need to celebrate Nokia successfully merging our three companies: Nokia Ab, which makes paper, Finnish Cable Works and Finnish Rubber Works. And we need to look forward to a new era of consumer electronics along with data processing, telecoms and robotics.
‘Just as paper had powered the nineteenth century communications industry, Nokia needs to demonstrate we are harnessing the electronic forces that will drive comms in the late 20th and 21st century.
‘Just look at these products we are working on for 1969. For example, we are very excited about our TV phone, the first of its type in the world.’
“Powers looked stumped for a minute. ‘Right,’ he said. Robots? That’s groovey and TV phone? Wow. There’s not enough room in one advert for all of this stuff. Maybe if we dressed a robot in some boots, using the video phone to talk to his robot girlfriend? We could always have him wearing some cable on his head? And maybe we could just change the headline to: All You Need is Nokia?’
“Mr Westerlund looked even more perplexed. ‘Hanssrupp,’ he bellowed. ‘Show him out, will you. I think you need Nokia more than Nokia needs you, Mr Powers. Thank you and goodbye.”’