In the mid-1990s the Eastman Kodak Company was not just the leading manufacturer of photographic film, paper, and chemicals; it was listed as one of the top companies in
Kodak traced its roots to Eastman Dry Plate Company, founded in 1880 by George Eastman and Henry Strong. Dry plates represented a significant improvement over the chemically treated wet plates of glass that photographers had previously used to expose one picture at a time in their cameras, a procedure that required considerable expertise. In 1884 the company patented the first roll film, a long strip of paper coated with emulsion that was sensitive to light. In 1888 Eastman began marketing the Kodak, a portable box camera that cost $25 and was loaded with enough film for 100 pictures. The invention of this type of camera and film was important in the growth of the motion-picture industry, and it opened the field of photography to amateurs.
Emphasizing that its new cameras were simple enough for the average consumer to use, Eastman Company advertised with the slogan ‘‘You push the button,we do the rest.’’ At the turn of the century the firm increased its massmarket appeal by introducing a small Kodak camera called the Brownie at the inexpensive price of $1. By that time the enterprise was known as Eastman Kodak Company. Among its many noteworthy innovations were the introduction of color film in 1935 and the launch of the Kodak Instamatic camera in 1963. Ease of use remained a primary theme in the company’s marketing efforts. ‘‘Kodak Instamatic Cameras load instantly! Automatically shoot and take sharp, clear pictures time after time!’’ said an advertisement in Good Housekeeping. ‘‘No threading. No fumbling. No rewinding.’’ With a market share that averaged 60 to 70 percent, Kodak led the industry for decades. By 1997 it was one of the 25 largest companies in the
Over the years Kodak had cultivated a familyoriented image with advertising that revolved around the ‘‘Kodak moment,’’ a portrait of a consumer capturing a heartwarming experience on film. Many people were not aware, however, that Kodak offered more than film and cameras. In addition, research showed that consumers thought the company was old-fashioned. In 1996 Kodak released the ‘‘Take Pictures. Further’’ campaign to change its image and to publicize its many products along with the possibilities they offered to consumers.
Kodak had cultivated a loyal following among consumers at least 35 years old, but it was not particularly appealing to most younger people. The new corporate-image campaign was intended to retain Kodak’s traditional customers while reaching teenagers and young adults, with a particular emphasis on consumers who were interested in mastering the most recent technologies. The first advertisements to use the ‘‘Take Pictures. Further’’ theme were aimed at the parents (ages 25 to 55) of school-age children, at young adults who used computers and had a college education (ages 18 to 34), and at business managers and department heads (ages 35 to 64). These ads promoted products such as ImageMagic service, which allowed consumers to crop and enlarge their photographs using Advantix, and the Fun Saver, a camera designed to be used only one time. Later advertisements also showcased innovative products. ‘‘Introducing the easiest way to get your pictures into your PC. The new Kodak Advantix film drive,’’ said a magazine ad that ran in 1998.
Some advertisements targeted the company’s core clientele of snap shooters 25 to 54 years old, primarily women, who took pictures to remember events such as birthday parties and family vacations. Kodak had become the industry leader by making it easy for people to take good photographs, and as the company introduced digital cameras and other innovations, its advertising assured consumers that photography would still be easy and more fun than ever. One advertisement in Travel & Leisure promoted Kodak Max film with the headline ‘‘I don’t care about f-stops. I don’t care about shutter speeds. I just want to take a picture.’’ The ad showed three badly exposed photographs labeled ‘‘Before Kodak Max’’ and three correctly exposed photographs labeled ‘‘After Kodak Max.’’ By showing new ways for people to enjoy their photographs, Kodak encouraged its customers to do more with their pictures than toss them in a drawer or file them away in a photo album. Of the 70 to 80 billion photographs that Americans snapped each year, only 2 percent were reprinted or enlarged. The ‘‘Take Pictures. Further’’ campaign urged consumers to use new technology such as E-mail to share photographs with their families and friends, to incorporate more photographs into documents created on their computers, and to improve photographs by altering their appearance. In addition to promoting Kodak’s digital products and services, the campaign was intended to revive interest in traditional film and cameras by explaining the many ways that average people could work with visual images.
One of Kodak’s primary rivals was a company with headquarters in
Kodak also competed with companies that made cameras and related products. In 1998 Canon
Kodak had been using 200 advertising agencies worldwide but reduced that number to 4 during a general restructuring of its marketing program in 1994 and 1995. The company then increased its advertising expenditures for film, cameras, and its first image campaign. Kodak’s
Unifying its global advertisements, the company launched its first worldwide image campaign in 1999. The effort built on the earlier campaign’s ‘‘Tall Tales’’ commercials and featured more fantastic stories told through photographs taken with Kodak products.
During the six-year span of ‘‘Take Pictures. Further,’’ Kodak’s uncontested dominance over the photography industry began to wane. The enterprise lost business not to other film companies but to the skyrocketing popularity of digital photography. According to Kodak executives and advertising analysts, the problem with ‘‘Take Pictures. Further’’ was that it failed to promote Kodak’s own advancements in digital technology. In 1996 Kodak was one of the first companies to introduce a range of pocket-size digital cameras. Instead of marketing the digital cameras, however, Kodak promoted Advantix, which did not offer as many features as digital photography and cost more for consumers to develop. Belinda Parmar, an Ogilvy & Mather representative who worked on the campaign, told Marketing that Kodak’s greatest problem was that ‘‘[i]t may have promising digital technology, but it has failed to communicate this effectively and convince consumers that Kodak is a digital brand.’’ Sales for Kodak steadily declined during the campaign’s final three years. Kodak released several digital cameras throughout this period, but technology critics believed that digital Kodak cameras lacked the functionality and form of cameras made by Sony and Canon. In 2001 Kodak also made a late entry into online photo development with its launch of www.Ofoto.com, a website onto which consumers could upload their digital images and later receive the printed images in the mail. Kodak was offering digital products, but its campaign pushed the more expensive and less popular film products. ‘‘Kodak is well placed to become a success in home printing, particularly as the sector moves from high-end to mass market,’’ Parmar continued in Marketing. ‘‘But first,’’ she said, ‘‘it must focus its marketing communication on why, rather than how, people print out digital.’’