KODAK'S NEW VISION PARTNERS TO HELP DEVELOP, MARKET IMAGING TECHNOLOGY

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SAN FRANCISCO-As Eastman Kodak Co. Chairman George Fisher conducted a Silicon Valley-style show to explain his company's new marketing strategy, he extended a hand to help several executives from his new partner companies negotiate some tricky stage steps.

"I don't want anything to happen to my partners," he said.

It was a different kind of Kodak moment.

Throughout history, Kodak has always developed technology and marketed its venerable brand by itself. But that's starting to change as Kodak moves ahead into co-branding and co-marketing products with a host of high-tech allies, under Kodak's new marketing team, including former Pepsi-Cola Co. and Apple executive John Sculley as a marketing consultant.

Kodak introduced a new brand mark and heralded a list of new partners at the March 28 event, including Microsoft Corp. for co-branded software and walk-up kiosks that will produce photographs and Photo CD discs; IBM Corp., Sprint and Wang Laboratories, for use of Kodak technology in sharing documents and images across networks for new products and services; Adobe Systems, for Photo CD support in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe PageMaker software; and Sega of America, for a Photo CD-compatible player.

Other partners include Citibank, Kinko's Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Several of the new alliances dealt with helping Photo CD-originally a flop with consumers but successful with businesses-become more attractive to consumers. And the partnerships announced last week were just the tip of the iceberg.

Some analysts weren't as impressed by all the name dropping.

"I don't believe much is changing in the revenue stream for their products," said Alex Henderson, an analyst at Prudential Securities, New York.

However, Mr. Henderson allowed that Kodak now has taken "a whole series of products floating without a coherent structure and incompatible architecture, and repositioned them."

Kodak will soon implement its new Kodak Digital Science "enhanced brand," designed by Diefenbach Elkins, a New York-based corporate identity company. A new logo is to appear on all digital products.

A campaign for the new brand mark is expected to begin in May on print, cable TV and radio from Ogilvy & Mather, Atlanta, which has the Digital & Applied Imaging division's account.

A brand image spot themed "The picture is changing" from Ammirati & Puris/Lintas, New York, made its debut at the event as an example of a corporate ad campaign. A Kodak spokesman emphasized the ad was just a special assignment for Ammirati.

Kodak's announcements were received more favorably by other analysts. Jeffrey Bronchick, principal at Reed Conner Birdwell, a Los Angeles investment management company, complained about the company's marketing "mess" at the start of the session but reacted favorably to Kodak's new image.

He was pleased that Kodak was opening its Photo CD technology.

And he was even happier that Mr. Fisher later told analysts privately that the company will be spending savings made from reorganization not on research and development, as it has in the past, but on the bottom line.

Michael Wilke in New York contributed to this story.

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