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Nokia to build a cultural hub in times square

July 29, 2005

Just in case we ever needed proof that the handset manufacturers are active participants in the content game, Nokia will open a theater in Times Square at the end of this year. Its purpose is to provide an intimate venue for music acts, but to also serve as a way for consumers to experience Nokia’s vision of the world.

While we have written about brand experience stores a number of times including KDDI’s showcase store in Tokyo , there is nothing quite like Nokia’s. The difference here lies in the interaction that Nokia will provide with entertainment. The brand can enhance its cool credentials by facilitating access to music. The brand can go one step beyond, but utilizing the content from these concerts in creative and imaginative ways. Think about Nokia providing an enhanced version of AOL’s Sessions for its carrier partners and handset users.

This move is another demonstration of the pull of the Times Square location; while obviously the cutting edge of billboard technology, it’s also becoming the center of all things media, with television studios all around the square. It’s almost as if the evolution of the billboard is the TV studio that lets us see and be seen by billions. In this sense, Times Square is now a window into the Western culture.

For this reason, Nokia’s move is a smart one. It goes beyond the billboard and provides experience and interaction that goes beyond retail and into media, but it remains to be seen if Nokia can really utilize the opportunity in interesting and creative ways.

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