Thursday, December 11, 2008
With the rise of digital photography in the 1990s, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. found itself in danger of being marginalized as nothing more than a film company despite offering a wide range of digital products and services. In 2000 New York advertising agency Publicis was hired to help reposition Fuji as an image and communications brand. To help achieve this end, Fuji in November 2002 launched a new campaign, ‘‘Meet the Greens,’’ that featured a modern family that used the full range of Fuji products, both digital and traditional. In addition to high-tech Dad and low-tech (and very pregnant) Mom, the family included teenage daughter Kellie and six-year-old Stewart.
The $20 to $25 million multimedia campaign featured three television spots, as well as print ads, newspaper inserts, outdoor advertising, and an online sweepstakes. An example of the humorous approach the campaign took was the television spot ‘‘Miracle,’’ which showed Mrs. Green using her Fuji QuickSnap disposable camera to capture what she and the children considered to be the miracle of all miracles: Dad vacuuming. Fuji hoped to exploit the Green family concept for an extended period of time, but after a second sweepstakes, in which participants were asked to submit names for the Greens’ new twins, the campaign petered out in 2003. The television spots were generally well received, but the concept did not prove to work well in print ads.
When Publicis took over the Fuji account in 2000 it faced the difficult challenge of expanding the brand beyond an immediate association with film. According to Claudia Deutsch writing in the New York Times in 2001, that association ‘‘galls them. FujiFilm sells developing equipment, photo processing services, printers, coated papers and cameras . . . the many lucrative things that can help film companies survive the encroachments that digital photography is making into the film market.’’ Indeed the emergence of digital technology in the 1990s had turned the photography industry upside down. Traditionally the lion’s share of profits had come from the sale of film. While consumers might buy a camera every few years, they had to regularly purchase film, a highly profitable business for traditional photo companies like Kodak and Fuji. Digital technology brought in a host of new competition from the electronics arena, and as was the case with all consumer electronics, the price of cameras dipped to the point that it was difficult to make money from selling them. And with an increasing number of consumers embracing digital technology, the need for film diminished, forcing an old-line photography company like Fuji to adjust to the new business reality. Having ‘‘film’’ in its name was no longer an advantage, and years of brand development that equated ‘‘Fuji’’ with ‘‘film’’ in the mind of consumers now created a drag on the company’s efforts to advance into the future. ‘‘We have simply got to reposition Fuji as a communications company,’’ Fuji’s vice president for advertising Joan C. Rutherford told Deutsch. Jennifer Garr, chief marketing officer for Publicis, added, ‘‘Pictures aren’t just about archiving, but about communicating . . .We want the Fuji brand to be top of mind when consumers think about using images.’’ According to Deutsch repositioning the Fuji brand was more than a hope: it was a ‘‘survival strategy.’’ From a sales point of view, however, the goal had not changed much. The money in photography had always been on the ‘‘output stream.’’ As Deutsch explained, ‘‘He who dominates the output side—that is, sells the most prints, developing chemicals and such—will rule the market.’’
To begin the process of repositioning the brand, Fuji launched a $20 million campaign in the fall of 2001 that also highlighted the company’s digital cameras, scanners, printers, and new digital developing equipment. The campaign’s three television commercials showed how Fuji products could be used to solve real problems, however exaggerated they might be. In the spot titled ‘‘Poodle’’ a young man in an elevator was enamored with a beautiful lady who clearly adored her pet poodle. He used a Fuji digital camera to take a picture of a pet store poodle and then uploaded the image to the Fuji website. Next he returned to the elevator wearing a sweatshirt with a poodle printed on the front, catching the attention of the young lady. The tagline for all the spots was ‘‘Do you speak Fuji?’’
‘‘The overall theme running throughout the new campaign is that ‘if you speak Fuji your communication will be enhanced,’’’ Rutherford explained in a press release. ‘‘The new campaign extends pictures beyond memories and takes the mystery out of digital imaging. It brings to life the concept of better communication through pictures. What is particularly important is that each ad demonstrates the fun and easy practical benefits of digital imaging and relates those benefits to everyday life.’’
A year later Fuji and Publicis took the concept further by embodying Fuji’s consumers in a single family: the Greens. The name was an allusion to Fuji’s longtime association to the color green in its distinctive packaging.
Because the ‘‘Meet the Greens’’ campaign was part of a larger brand repositioning effort, it was aimed at a wide target audience that included consumer, professional, business, and retail customers. Previous ad campaigns had targeted early adapters of new technologies, but digital photography had moved beyond this stage, prompting Fuji and the competition to appeal to general consumers. On a more specific level the new Fuji ads hoped to reach women, in particular mothers 24 to 41 years of age. According to research conducted by Kodak, 70 to 80 percent of family pictures were taken by women. They were the ones who maintained family photo albums, so they had to be educated about the ways to get prints from their digital cameras, whether it was from home printers, sending the digital files to a lab for development, or using Fuji self-serve kiosks at a drugstore. The use of a family in the new campaign, featuring domestic situations that would have appeal to women, was intended to reach this key demographic. Only to a small extent did the marketers attempt to target men and children, although both were represented in the Green family concept. The younger demographic, for instance, was not of prime concern because they tended to share pictures with one another via E-mail and were less likely to make prints.
For many years Fuji’s chief competitor had been Eastman Kodak. The two companies vied for film customers. Fuji had done particularly well with lower-priced film and disposable cameras, which it introduced into the market in the mid-1980s. But because Fuji’s product offerings now extended beyond film and disposable cameras to include a wide range of digital cameras and output solutions, it faced a host of new competitors. In the digital camera field Fuji had to contend with old-guard brands like Kodak, Minolta, Olympus, and, to a lesser degree, upscale Nokia. But of equal threat were the newcomers to photography through digital technology, such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony, and LG, all of which had successful product lines outside of photography and possessed the financial wherewithal to fund aggressive marketing campaigns. It was their combined marketing heft that was a key factor in the speed in which digital photography overtook film, catching both Fuji and Kodak by surprise. In the home printer market Fuji competed against category leader Hewlett-Packard as well as an increasingly aggressive Kodak, which was heavily promoting its EasyShare system and home printing dock. Kodak was also a chief rival in the all-important selfservice digital photo kiosk business. Such units were cropping up at drugstore chains and other retail establishments, allowing customers to select, edit, and print digital pictures on the spot, and were becoming an increasingly important offset to the loss of film sales. Kodak was especially effective in leveraging its brand to become a major force in this category, but Fuji also faced competition in kiosks from major players like Polaroid, Olympus, PMI/KIS, IBM, Mitsubishi, and Sony, as well as from a number of smaller companies.
The Green family—reminiscent of an irreverent suburban television sitcom family, a la The Simpsons or Malcolm in the Middle—was crafted to include every type of picture taker. According to a Fuji press release when the campaign was launched in November 2002, ‘‘Mr. Green is an advanced amateur photographer who loves to shoot with Fujifilm’s range of digital cameras. Mrs. Green likes to use Fujifilm 35 mm and QuickSnap one-time-use cameras. Kellie, their teenaged daughter, is a fan of Fujifilm’s Nexia Q1, a trendy-looking APS film camera. And Stewart, the always-scheming six-year-old, is happy to take pictures with whatever camera he can get his hands on.’’ The ‘‘Do you speak Fuji?’’ tagline of the previous campaign was dropped in favor of ‘‘Get the picture,’’ a slogan Fuji had actually used several years earlier and which the company believed offered more universal appeal. ‘‘Get the picture’’ was also catchy because of its ambiguous meaning. As an imperative, ‘‘Get the picture’’ urged the audience to take pictures as well as to make prints. As a question, ‘‘Get the picture’’ asked the audience if it understood—in essence asking if it was in the know and hip enough to embrace the Fuji message. The multifaceted campaign, estimated to have a budget of $20 to $25 million, included television spots, print ads, newspaper inserts, outdoor advertising, and an online sweepstakes.
The linchpin of the ‘‘Meet the Greens’’ campaign was the three TV spots, which broke on national television during an episode of NBC’s Crossing Jordan. The spots also appeared during other primetime network shows, such as Alias, NYPD Blue, The Practice, ER, Law & Order, and The West Wing. Cable television stations that aired the commercials included Discover, Nick at Nite, TLC, VH1, USA, and TBS. The spots also ran during syndicated reruns of such popular shows as Seinfeld and Just Shoot Me.
The three commercials were structured as humorous, offbeat vignettes, each one highlighting a specific Fuji product or service while showing the Green family involved in everyday picture-taking situations. In the spot called ‘‘Date,’’ Mr. Green and Stewart decided to have fun with Kellie’s nervous young date, Chad. In answer to Mr. Green’s implied question, ‘‘So, Kellie tells me you’re on the football team,’’ bratty Stewart quipped, ‘‘He’s the mascot.’’ Chad then had the misfortune of accepting an offering of messy candy. When Kellie finally made her appearance, he had candy stuck to his braces and smeared around his mouth. ‘‘Let’s get a picture,’’ Mr. Green announced, after which he picked up his Fujifilm FinePix F401 camera to get a candid shot of a smiling Chad and mortified Kellie. The focus of the second spot, ‘‘Miracle,’’ was a Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash disposable camera. The commercial opened with Mrs. Green and the children frantically in search of something. Finally she found a QuickSnap camera buried beneath the cushions of the couch. She and the children then rushed upstairs to capture a picture of a ‘‘miracle,’’ which turned out to be Mr. Green vacuuming. In the last of the three spots, ‘‘Charade,’’ Fuji’s self-serve digital photo kiosk was the centerpiece product. In the ad Mr. Green was shown using an in-store kiosk (the Aladdin Digital Photo Center) to develop pictures of his wife and kids. At home he laid out the pictures on the couch and started playing charades by himself. When the family walked in on him, Stewart offered a guess at the subject of the charade:
‘‘Night of the Living Dead?’’
The ‘‘Meet the Greens’’ campaign also featured a pair of print ads. In one Mr. Green was shown taking a close-up picture of blades of grass, accompanied by the cheeky caption ‘‘Mr. Green Gets Hooked on grass,’’ a marijuana allusion geared toward a baby boomer audience. The ad ran in such publications as Popular Photography and Wired. A second print ad featured Kellie taking a picture of her brother listening to the swollen belly of a very pregnant Mrs. Green. The headline read, ‘‘Stewart listens for a change.’’ The ad appeared in mainstream publications like People. Another print element was an insert in 100 million newspapers that featured the Greens and included coupons for Fuji film and one-time cameras. The ‘‘Meet the Greens’’ campaign also included outdoor advertising that pictured the Greens’ mailbox filled with a complete array of Fujifilm products. The text read, ‘‘What Cool Families Use.’’ The mailbox concept was then carried over into the online sweepstakes that was launched later in November and promoted on the Fujifilm website as well as on Yahoo.com, Nickjr.com, ABCnews.com, Babycenter.com, and a number of other sites.
The ‘‘Meet the Greens’’ advertising ran through the rest of 2002 and were supposed to be followed with a new series of commercials in the spring of 2003 and a third series in the fall of 2003. In April 2003 Fuji launched another sweepstakes by way of an ad in Good Housekeeping, inviting participants to offer names for the twins Mrs. Green was set to have. The twins were also expected to be featured in new television spots. The spots never materialized, however, as the Green family concept failed to resonate with the audience as well as the marketers had hoped. While the television spots were engaging—‘‘Date’’ was highlighted as one of the best recent spots in a December 2002 issue of Adweek —the concept did not translate well to the print medium. Nevertheless Fuji had made strides in its effort to recast its brand as more than just film.