Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Saturday, August 23, 2008


One of the most successful brands in the history of the United States, Eastman Kodak Company, whose founder had invented popular photography in the 1880s, was slipping as it entered the twenty-first century. Although it was a pioneer in the development of digital photography, Kodak had continued to focus on its highly profitable film products, conceding much of the digital-photography market to a host of competitors. Realizing it was falling behind, the company in 2003 decided to concentrate on its digital lines. To promote Kodak’s easy-to-use printing systems—which were available through either self-service kiosks or camera docks that connected to a personal computer—Kodak and its advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, launched a campaign in 2004 titled ‘‘The Best Part of Photography Is the Prints.’’ The campaign’s print and television advertisements played off the question ‘‘Where are my pictures?’’—touching upon the frustrations many digital-camera users encountered when trying to get hard copies of the photos they had taken. The commercials targeted women, who, according to market research, took the vast majority of family pictures and maintained the family photo albums. The ‘‘Best Part of Photography Is the Prints’’ campaign won a 2005 EFFIE award and helped Kodak to increase the sales of its digital lines. But as the sale of traditional film products eroded further, the company continued to struggle financially. In the hopes of reestablishing its prominent position in the shifting photography marketplace, the company in 2005 replaced the campaign with a new marketing effort promoting Kodak’s cuttingedge digital cameras.

Kodak had essentially invented the amateur photography industry in the 1880s, when bank clerk George Eastman founded the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company and introduced the first Kodak brand camera. From the start the company proved to be a savvy marketer, as evidenced by its initial slogan, ‘‘You press the button—we do the rest.’’ While Kodak made money from the sale of cameras and especially from its film, over the decades the company wisely associated itself with the picture-taking process and lifestyle rather than with the merchandise—which included many innovative items, such as the $1 Brownie camera in 1900 (with film costing 15 cents a roll), the world’s first true color negative film in 1942, and the Instamatic camera in 1963. Kodak embraced television advertising early on, establishing fruitful relationships with television stars such as Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, variety show host Ed Sullivan, and sitcom actor Dick Van Dyke. The company later employed campaigns urging consumers to put ‘‘open me first’’ cards on Christmas presents containing Kodak cameras so that pictures could be taken when the rest of the presents were opened. Kodak’s marketing triumphs peaked in the early 1990s, when it tapped into the vernacular phrase ‘‘Kodak moment’’ to promote its cameras and film. But with the rise of digital photography people began to seriously question whether Kodak’s moment had come and gone.
Ironically, although Kodak was a pioneer in digital camera technology, garnering a number of key patents, the general public was mostly unaware of these accomplishments. The company, failing to anticipate how quickly digital technology would surpass traditional cameras and film, allowed a number of companies, some with no association with cameras at all, to stake significant claims in the growing new market.
In the mid-1990s Kodak dropped its longtime advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson Company, in favor of Ogilvy & Mather and attempted a corporate makeover to appeal to younger consumers. But Kodak still gave short shrift to digital photography by continuing to emphasize traditional photography and film, especially in China and in developing countries in Eastern Europe. Revenues began to erode, declining four years in a row by 2003, and the price of Kodak stock followed suit. The company found itself at a crossroads: it could either remain in the high-profit-margin film business or fully commit to digital technology, where margins were lower and, like those of all high-tech electronics, dropping. To complicate matters, Kodak lacked the reputation in digital it had enjoyed for so many years in traditional photography.
In September 2003 the company announced it was casting its lot with digital technology. Money that had gone to promoting the film business in developed markets would instead be directed toward selling such technologies as ink-jet printers and high-end digital printing. A large number of digital-camera users were not making prints of their photographs, but Kodak believed that eventually they would see the value of having hard copies. Sensing an opportunity, the company decided to emphasize its kiosk printers and home-printing camera docks, which became the focal point of the campaign, titled ‘‘The Best Part of Photography Is the Prints.’’ In a larger sense, however, Kodak wanted to position itself as a player in the entire digital process, from capturing the image to outputting it.

While in general Kodak’s ‘‘Best Part of Photography Is the Prints’’ campaign was aimed at all digital-camera users, the company had a more specific target in mind: wives and mothers. Kodak research had revealed that 70 to 80 percent of family pictures were taken by women. Moreover women were generally the keepers of family memories and maintained the photo albums. It was with women in mind that the company had earlier introduced its EasyShare system, which included a camera, software, and an easy-to-use dock for transferring pictures to a computer. Later it offered an EasyShare printer dock, which allowed photos to be printed straight from a camera, without using a computer. The company said that women generally placed the printer dock in the kitchen and often took it with them as a party printer. But as Carl E. Gustin, Jr., Kodak’s chief marketing officer, explained to Claudia H. Deutsch of the New York Times, the company also realized that the target customer would want a printing option that did not involve owning a home ink-jet printer. He stated, ‘‘So if digital photography and printing is going to be a truly mass phenomenon, then self-service retail has to be a big part of it.’’ Thus promoting Kodak’s kiosks at retail stores was also a priority for the company and the new marketing campaign.
According to Beth Snyder Bulik, writing for Advertising Age, the target audience was ‘‘women, ranging from teens to grandmothers.’’ Because consumers in the younger demographic tended to E-mail pictures to one another and to view Kodak as a stodgy brand, the company had decided not to pursue this group aggressively. Nevertheless Kodak also hoped to begin connecting with young people by promoting its cutting-edge technology. For example, Kodak possessed high-definition OLED (organic lightemitting diode) display technology, which allowed for thinner cameras and mobile phones with picture-taking capabilities. The company was optimistic that when techsavvy members of the younger generation began to realize the implications of this and other Kodak innovations, they would begin to change their view of the brand.

Kodak faced competition in the digital arena on a number of fronts. Its digital cameras competed against established camera companies, such as Canon, Fuji, Minolta, and Olympus, but also against newcomers, such as Hewlett-Packard, LG Electronics, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony. All of the latter group had arrived in the photography market via their successes in digital technology and had the deep pockets to support aggressive marketing campaigns. On the home-printing front Kodak’s main competitor was market leader Hewlett-Packard (although Kodak led in the sale of the ink-jet paper on which digital photos were printed).
Digital pictures that were saved on memory cards and CDs could also be dropped off like film rolls at a local photo shop or drugstore counter for processing, but increasingly consumers were turning to do-it-yourself digital-photo kiosks where pictures could be selected, edited, and printed on the spot. It was in this category that Kodak was able to leverage its brand to establish itself as a major player in the digital-photography industry. It forged alliances with drugstore chains, such as CVS in the United States and Boots in the United Kingdom, and with superstores, such as Wal-Mart and Target. Nevertheless kiosks remained a competitive sector, the direct competition coming from the likes of Polaroid, Olympus, PMI/KIS, IBM, Mitsubishi, Sony, and a host of smaller companies.

Kodak continued to follow its century-long strategy of playing up the lifestyle of taking pictures rather than the cameras or film themselves. The difference was that digital products were made the priority, and Kodak allocated the necessary resources to promote them. According to TNS Media Intelligence, out of the $109 million Kodak spent in 2004 on measured media (that is, TV, radio, and print), $71 million was devoted to digital cameras, home-printing solutions, and selfservice kiosks. The thrust of the ‘‘Best Part of Photography Is the Prints’’ campaign, composed of both television and print elements, was on ease of use, in particular in printing digital photos. This was a market, unlike digital cameras, where Kodak could truly use the strength of its brand to its advantage. In a three-month companion campaign developed by HSR Business to Business, Cincinnati, the Kodak Professional unit promoted its line of digital-photo printers through print ads aimed at professional photographers.
Nicola Bell, worldwide executive group director at Ogilvy & Mather, told Claudia H. Deutsch of the New York Times, ‘‘Our research shows that even people who love their digital cameras are still frustrated about how to get prints.’’ The strategy of the new television spots was relatively straightforward. ‘‘We have to position the kiosks as friendly little machines that guarantee good, long-lived pictures,’’ Bell explained.
Writing for Advertising Age, Beth Snyder Bulik maintained that the strategy of the new campaign could be encapsulated in the question asked in each ad: ‘‘Where are my pictures?’’ She interviewed Pierre Schaeffer, Kodak’s vice president and director of business strategy and marketing services, who said that many people could relate to the catchphrase, adding, ‘‘There has been a brainwashing in digital cameras that suggests you need to be a computer expert. We try to break that image . . .’ You press a button, we do the rest. We’re the experts in photography, you don’t have to be.’ ’’ The ‘‘Best Part of Photography Is the Prints’’ campaign broke in late May 2004. In the new TV spots Kodak customers talked about how they loved digital photography but lamented the fact that they never actually got their photos printed. One commercial featured the EasyShare digital camera and printer dock. Another promoted the picture maker kiosk. In the International Herald Tribune, Deutsch described the commercials as featuring ‘‘a panoply of people—young and old, male and female, black and white and Asian—professing love for their digital cameras. Then it pans to one young man crying plaintively, ‘Where are my pictures?’ The answer, of course, is readily at hand—if he would only go to his local self-service kiosk and make them.’’ Other TV spots focused on consumers using the EasyShare printer dock at home.
The campaign’s print ads also divided their focus between the self-service kiosks and the easy-to-use home printer dock. Other aspects of the campaign included monthly educational E-mail newsletters, a holiday mailing, and booths at NASCAR races.

Kodak’s Schaeffer told Advertising Age that the different elements of the company’s ‘‘Best Part of Photography Is the Prints’’ campaign ‘‘all paid off big-time.’’ Kodak gained U.S. market share on Sony, improving from 15.3 to 18.3 percent in the first half of 2004. On the kiosk side of the business, Kodak was enjoying tremendous growth, due in large measure to advertising and to the distribution of Kodak kiosks throughout the marketplace. Not to be discounted, however, was the quality of the product, which ranked at or near the top of the three different categories defined by the Digital Imaging Marketing Association: stand-alone units, kiosks linked to remote printing equipment, and combination kiosks that could either print locally or send files to a remote digital-photo minilab for development. Also of great importance was that an increasing number of people were turning to kiosks for their prints. According to market research about 39 percent of digital-camera users tried kiosks in 2004 compared with 28 percent in 2003. The campaign also garnered recognition for Ogilvy & Mather, which won a bronze in the Consumer Electronics category at the 2005 EFFIE Awards, given out annually by the New York American Marketing Association in recognition of the year’s most effective advertising campaigns. Kodak made strides in positioning itself in the digital marketplace in 2004, and its digital sales were growing at a strong clip, but the traditional film business was slipping even faster than expected, putting additional pressure on Kodak’s marketers to promote the digital lines to make up for shrinking film sales. In the first quarter of 2005 Kodak generated sales of $2.83 billion, down from the $2.92 billion it had reported for the same period a year earlier. In the second quarter the company suffered a net loss of $143 million. Ogilvy & Mather’s next major market effort, launched in 2005, pursued the theme ‘‘Keep it forever. Keep it Kodak,’’ another attempt to retain Kodak’s connection to the past while portraying the company as an innovator. In addition Kodak was undergoing a large makeover that ranged from revamping product design and styling to updating operating systems.

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