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Throwback: Lenovo kills the Motorola brand in favor of Lenovo Moto at CES 2016

It was exactly 4 years ago, during CES 2016, that Rick Osterloh told CNET the Motorola brand would fade away in favor of Moto and Lenovo Moto.

I never liked Rick Osterloh, to be honest, but I think that was a smart cry for help, so fans and the media would speak loudly on how they felt about this decision. So in a way he caused this mess to save the Motorola brand.

I literally cried when I read this. I went on a Twitter rant against Lenovo and even got my Twitter account suspended. I emailed every Motorola executive I knew twice a week for the following weeks to see if there were updates on this situation. I even begged Motorola Solutions' CEO to buy Motorola Mobility (I know, I'm lame).

Around that time I began writing for, writing articles about how the products following this press mess were still Motorola and finding evidence that the brand wasn't dead. I would send these articles and other information to the big tech sites so they would cover it and talk about motoROLA. And many did. I also created the Motorola Lovers community and worked long hours to make it grow on social media, where I would promote the Motorola brand with all its eight letters.

In a way, that was my way to fight back. In the meantime, I was also sending emails to Lenovo executives telling them my story. That's when Jan Huckfeldt stepped in as CMO for Lenovo's Mobile Business Group, and not only listened to me, but to all the fans that were doing the same I was doing through social media, emails, letters and so on.

People love a great comeback story, and that's what Motorola did by late 2016. By mid-2017, Motorola was back:

That was a BIG moment, because I that was when I knew all the time I spent trying to annoy the hell out of everyone meant something. And it really showed that when consumers, the press, and the biggest fans request or complain about something, marketers and companies listen, and it's very important to note that Lenovo did listen to us and quicky changed this decision (and we are very grateful).

All in all, the CES 2016 drama will always be an interesting case study:

  • Did Rick Osterloh mention the Motorola brand was being phased out on purpose?
  • Was that the reason he left Motorola a few months later? Did it get him in trouble?
  • Had he not said anything, would consumers notice about this branding change?
  • Was the Lenovo Moto branding decision based on the possible success of the upcoming Moto Z and Moto Mods - which was successful but not huge?
  • Would the Moto Z family be more successful had this brand mess not happened in 2016?
  • Would there even be a Motorola Lovers community today?

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