Digital dilemma

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Eastman Kodak Co.'s mission is to bring its digital cameras and services to the mass market. And it's counting on Tom Cruise to make that possible.

The camera marketer's partnership with Paramount Pictures revolves around "Mission: Impossible 2," a sequel to the original blockbuster. With the broad-based entertainment promotion, Kodak appears to be casting the widest net among digital camera marketers to draw in mainstream consumers.


Kodak's deal began last April as a standard product-placement request from Paramount, because digital cameras are central to the film's plot line. The two flagship products in Kodak's digital consumer line at the time of filming -- its higher-end DC 290 and the less-advanced DC 280 -- are featured in more than 10 scenes. Steve Powell, director of interactive e-business at, thinks the marketing initiative surrounding the film's opening May 24 will create an association between Kodak and the movie consumers can't miss.

"This is tying our digital products and digital sharing directly to [a movie] we think will be the hottest consumer product of the summer."

To that end, Kodak is running a print ad in May consumer magazines as part of its $1 million-plus effort around the movie. The ad, from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, is set to run for five weeks in titles including Business Week, GQ, Premiere, Rolling Stone, Spin and Time. It features a particular image of star Tom Cruise -- secured by Kodak exclusively -- so consumers would associate the ad with Kodak rather than a promo for the film.

The copy above the picture reads: "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, begins at" The Kodak logo and corporate tagline, "Take pictures. Further," appear at the bottom.

The print execution, as well as banner ads running on America Online, aim to drive people to's hub page for "Mission: Impossible 2," a co-branded collaboration of Kodak and Paramount. The site includes a special application from Kodak's Picture Playground allowing visitors to repurpose images from the movie and send them as digital postcards with personalized messages.

It also offers links to Kodak product information, to Kodak's online store -- featuring special offers including "Mission: Impossible 2" merchandise with the purchase of a digital camera -- and to behind-the-scenes interviews with the movie's producers and director. In addition, prior to the May 18 Hollywood premiere, visitors to the site can sign up for an exclusive Webcast of the premiere festivities.

Kodak also plans to use an online sweepstakes to build a marketing database, offering weekly prizes such as the actual cameras used by Tom Cruise and the cast and crew.


"The `Mission: Impossible 2' audience is the Internet audience, which is just about everybody," Mr. Powell said. "We're showing that digital cameras fit in the mainstream just like the Web is in the mainstream and the `Mission: Impossible 2' movie is in the mainstream."

But the movie promotion is just one element of Kodak's larger strategy to bring digital to the masses. It helps create the "buzz" that will begin to give digital cameras social relevance, said Kodak's Chief Marketing Officer Carl Gustin. Kodak's digital marketing plan hinges on "lifestyle marketing" to segmented targets through segmented vehicles.

"[We] can't expect to make it mainstream simply by running commercials on prime time," he said.

Segmenting targets is critical because Kodak's marketing strategy aims to communicate benefits, which vary depending on the user.

Kodak hopes to simplify its message in a digital advertising campaign set to roll out over the second half of the year, in which Kodak's various digital services including its Picture CD, PhotoNet Online and You've Got Pictures will be bundled together into an integrated marketing push.

Most consumers, Mr. Gustin explained, like the "digitization system," which allows them to take pictures with traditional film-based cameras but manipulate and share them via digital services. "What the marketing and advertising will do is begin to bundle these things up," he said. "Putting it together in a common language -- lifestyle marketing -- is a lot more successful in appealing" to the masses, he said.

Bundled marketing is not a new idea, however. Sony Electronics Corp., the leader in the digital camera category with its Mavica camera, in March embarked on an estimated $60 million, yearlong advertising blitz integrating its digital imaging products (AA, March 20).

Sony, like Kodak, wants to communicate benefits to consumers by demonstrating the applications of digital imaging. Its first TV spot ever for a digital camera, which broke last week on network and cable TV, shows how images can be sent via e-mail. In the 30-second ad, from Y&R Advertising, New York, a baby speedily runs over mountains across traffic and through fields to reach his grandmother's open arms. She is actually viewing an image of him e-mailed from the Mavica camera.

The camera is not seen until the end of the spot, explained Sony VP-Marketing Digital Imaging Jay Sato, because the marketer wanted to highlight the application first. "We're trying to make it really relevant to people's lifestyles," he said, by showing how they "can really use imaging to communicate."

Bringing digital to mass consumers is "going to take an industrywide effort," said Chuck Davenport, an analyst at Lyra Research. "I don't think Kodak can do that by themselves; I don't think anyone can do it by themselves," he added.

Marketing alone can't do the job. According to sales tracking company NPD Intelect, digital cameras topped $1 billion in sales in 1999, a 63% increase from 1998. But high price points, relative to traditional cameras, are still an impediment to mass-market adoption. "For most people, a digital camera is still something that's not a necessity for them," said Wang Ying, a consultant at Levin Consulting.


Polaroid Corp., long known for its lower-priced instant cameras, in 1999 took over the No. 5 spot in the category from Fuji, capturing 3% of dollar share, thanks to its PhotoMAX digital camera line retailing at about $300, significantly lower than most of its competitors. Fuji's MX 1200 digital camera, however, retails at about the same price, and the company is committed to increasing its push towards mainstream consumers.

"Our message will be placed in more consumer-like media as time goes on," said Jim Brennan, Fuji's VP-marketing for digital imaging. "Our message will primarily be on the benefits, focusing on the attributes of our cameras." Publicis, New York, handles.

Like Kodak and Sony, Fuji is highlighting output-oriented benefits of digital -- accenting the pictures and what can be done with them.

But not all camera marketers are working vigilantly to corner the mass market. Nikon, No. 4 in the digital camera category in dollar share behind Sony, Olympus America and Kodak, respectively, is in the No. 5 position in unit share, due to its higher-priced products.

Kodak is "in a very different place than we are; they live in a mass market," said William Giordano, national marketing manager for consumer digital products at Nikon. "As far as Nikon is concerned, we're in our niche place in the high end, and we do that very well." Nikon advertises its digital products in photography and technology magazines, via Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis..


Lyra Research's Mr. Davenport said less than 10% of camera users are using digital today, but predicts that 2005 will be the watershed year "that digital photography will be apparently dominant."

Looking ahead, Mr. Powell said Kodak will continue entertainment-related marketing as part of its commitment to moving digital out of the "functional" and into the "aspirational" arena -- where consumers will begin looking at digital cameras as must-haves. He said Kodak will use "all those vehicles that consumers ultimately run into," including movies, TV programs and even Nascar races.

And Kodak is pushing the envelope further, partnering with Scientific-Atlanta to develop photographic services for interactive TV, allowing cable subscribers to view, edit, share and order prints of digital pictures from their TV sets.

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