Hum That Brand: Nokia Contest Seeks Update of Signature Tune


Yahoo’s not the only company wishing it had a fission-powered DeLorean (a la Nike this week) to facilitate a return to better times.

It wasn’t long ago – all right, maybe an eon in the cellphone era – when more pockets were stuffed with Nokia phones than ears plugged with trendy white headphones. Those iPod buds were annoying if you weren’t an early adopter, but at least they didn’t disturb you in a movie theater, unlike that Nokia earworm (known as the Nokia Tune) that burrowed into my brain to keep company with the latest derivative party anthem by the Black Eyed Peas.

Think you can come up with a new Nokia Tune? Now’s your chance![more]

It’s a fun opportunity for aspiring audio branders, amateur jingle creators, beatboxers and other sound hounds.

According to one estimate, the Nokia tune is played 1.8 billion times a day, making it one of the most well-known brand-associated sounds this side of the Mac startup sounds and “Intel Inside” jingle. If you’re hearing the Nokia Tune ringtone less often these days, it’s probably because there’s been far greater demand for iPhones and smartphones running Android than Nokia’s products, which have been running the Symbian OS.

Nokia is finally swapping Symbian with Microsoft Windows, and also plans to update the ringtone with the help of AudioDraft – a company that “arranges crowdsourced sound design contests” – and, perhaps, you! Nokia is running a contest, and offering prizes up to $10,000, for a user-created update to refresh the ringtone, which has been in use since 1994 and is credited to Spanish composer-guitarist Francisco Tárrega (1852–1909), though it’s been concluded that Tárrega’s Gran Valse was “inspired” by Frederic Chopin’s Grande Valse. 

A ringtone contest probably won’t recoup the half billion dollars Nokia lost in a recent quarter, but it should at least get people thinking (or humming) about the brand again. Assuming the company can crank out those Windows phones as soon as possible.

Perhaps to herald the switch to Windows, the winning song will sample “Get on Your Feet” by Miami Sound Machine, which is arguably Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s favorite song. Let’s at least hope, for Nokia’s sake, that the next tune associated with the brand won’t be that other well-known Chopin tune.