Lenovo’s Jo Moore: ‘The days of brands telling everybody what to think, feel and do are gone’ | M&M Global

Lenovo’s Jo Moore: ‘The days of brands telling everybody what to think, feel and do are gone’

The value of advertising creativity has been degraded as marketers’ dependence on data has increased, warns Lenovo worldwide executive brand director Jo Moore.


Lenovo stands for “new legend” – the 11 year old company was formed from Beijing-based Legend when it incorporated PC hardware company IBM.

However, and despite worldwide executive brand director Jo Moore describing the company as “the world’s biggest PC brand”, the business has thus far shied away from the limelight. It has been primarily sold through resellers and distributors – posing Moore with what she claims is a “fascinating” branding challenge.

“You can’t walk down the road to John Lewis or Dixons and get a Lenovo, so it’s not been a mass consumer brand, even though hundreds and thousands of people are using the products,” says Moore, speaking to M&M Global at last month’s NewsCred ThinkContent event in London.

She adds that the brand only recently starting to be recognised in the PC space following a rebrand that began around 18 months ago.

Motorola acquisition

Lenovo entered the smartphone market in 2012 and, two years later, the company acquired the Motorola brand, requiring a upheaval in thinking to traditional mobile branding – moving from the traditional, sleek monochrome with a splash of red to a more “vibrant, fulfilling, beautiful, exciting, dynamic identity”.

“That, of course, dictated that our brand strategy would change, which then led to our content strategy changing and then all of those things fall in line,” she adds. “We use content to drive our new brand strategy – not just content for content’s sake or content to sell products, my angle is using content from a branding perspective.”

The recent return of the ‘Hello Moto’ endline has reqired retargeting, “not so much towards younger in age and demographic, but more of mind and spirit and the never standing still mind set,” says Moore, who joined Lenovo in 2014 from her role as worldwide managing director, global brands, at WPP ad agency Ogilvy & Mather.

Looking at regional differences, Moore describes how branding varies with location: “I think global approach overall, particularly goals and ambitions, but I think how you then execute and deliver on that has got to be somewhat tweaked and localised. In some countries it’s 20% brand awareness, in others it’s 70-80% so it’s a very big gap.”

‘Too easy to press a button’

Moore feels that, in these automated marketing times, it is too easy to press a button and “programmatic, off it goes, does its thing”.

“We’re losing the amazing, smart, insightful planners and strategists in agencies and the amazing creative geniuses that have made those creative leaps in creativity because it’s digital,” she adds.

She also criticises the disposable nature of content these days leading to agencies spending less time and effort.

“I think the combination of not just tech in terms of technology and techniques available but also the digital media landscapes has caused this incessant, constant changing and need for new content and I think the quality has gone down,” she expands, discussing the different in the type of hires made these days to meet the prioritising of data and programming over insight.

“I think it’s a shift and the creative has been devalued. But then the question is ,‘What will technology mean for agencies of the future?’ and it’s up to agencies to fight back and put more value back on those amazing pieces of creative work that shapes brands around the world.”

Moore sees this as an opportunity for agencies to allow insight and creativity to bounce back. “I don’t have the magic answer and what worked for us last year probably won’t work for us this year,” she adds.

“You have to keep changing and adapting and trialling your approach because certain strategies and influencers we’ve used last year or even this year have changed. You’ve got to keep open and looking for the next thing, but that’s no different I think to how creativity was even a hundred years ago, let alone 50 years ago, in this business.”

However, Moore feels that people are doing less research in an attempt to be fast and reactive, instead putting content out with a degree of trial and error. “If it takes six months to develop something, the world’s moved on, especially in tech.”

VR headgear prototype

At CES 2017, Lenovo has displayed a VR headgear prototype that will supposedly work with Microsoft’s Holographic platform, though sceptics have pointed out that the demos focussed on the fit and feel of the headset, as the device isn’t working yet. Other new devices include the ThinkPad series update, X1 Carbon, plus a smart speaker similar to Amazon Echo, a series of gaming laptops and an AR/AI option for business called New Glass C200.

Looking to the future of the brand’s content, Moore believes that the key is expanding on the work of the last few years with influencers, co-creation and crowd sourcing, as well as media partners. “Don’t just back one horse,” she says. “I think we’ll change the partners we’re working with, we might revisit some partners.

“We’re going much more targeted and focused now – before we went very broad, we were getting everyone and anyone but now we’re much more targeted, so more influencers but more bespoke.”

Overall, Moore says she is fascinated to see whether “the crowd” will die down or continue to grow. “What’s happening with a lot of the crowd companies, they’re having to get their crowds much smarter, much slicker, their production values much stronger.

“I think the days of brands telling everybody what to think and feel and do are gone,” she concludes. “But I also don’t think it’ll switch the other way either – it’s got to be a bit of both.”

Anna Dobbie



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