Polaroid Combo Cam targets teens

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Polaroid Corp. is making digital photography an instant possibility for teens with its new Combo Cam, set to hit mass retail in October.

The company hopes its two-in-one I-Zone Digital & Instant Combo Camera can capitalize on the success of the I-Zone pocket camera, Polaroid's teen-targeted instant camera that produces postage stamp-size photos and photo stickers. I-Zone has been the No. 1-selling camera in the U.S. since its fourth-quarter 1999 launch, according to ACNielsen data provided by Polaroid.

The hybrid camera is the next logical step in targeting the teen demographic, which Polaroid deems "Gen-I, or generation Internet," said Sandy Lawrence, senior-VP-worldwide marketing.

The new offering, a digital camera attached to an I-Zone, is "a bridge between the optical camera--the I-Zone--and the digital realm, which we know teens are certainly getting involved in," said Roni LaCoste, Gen-I group marketing manager at Polaroid.

Ms. Lawrence said the Combo Cam "has been on the drawing board right from the beginning," but its launch was staged so consumers would adopt and understand the instant I-Zone first. Teens do not distinguish between film and digital images, she said, because "they just want to have fun."

The new camera, which will be in stores Oct. 1, will be supported by print ads from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, the agency's first work for Polaroid since it consolidated its $100 million global account with the Bcom3 Group agency in May. Upcoming ads, part of Polaroid's $40 million yearlong ad budget, will fit into the ongoing I-Zone campaign, which began last year with a print and TV effort from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.


"Our umbrella positioning is `photoplay' and making connections. It's what the whole product stands for," Ms. Lawrence said.

The digital part of the camera can store up to 18 images, which can be downloaded via the PC-compatible cable included with Combo Cam. It will retail for $99.99 at mass merchandisers, photo specialty and toy stores such as Ritz Camera, Target Stores and Toys "R" Us.

"That's where entry-level cameras are priced right now," said Michelle Lampmann, an analyst at InfoTrends. Although digital resolution is not very high at that price point, she said, it is sufficient to satisfy teens' desire to share images on the Net. "It's a pretty well-connected demographic," she said. "I think the group of I-Zone users will immediately adopt that."

The fall Combo Cam campaign "is just a different manifestation of `Where will you stick it,' " the central theme for the existing I-Zone campaign, Ms. Lawrence said. The new camera builds on the photo sticker concept in that teens have the option of sticking pictures on the Web.


To that end, Polaroid also is launching Webster, a photo scanner enabling teens to post images online. The device, about the size of a car's stick shift, scans any small item--including I-Zone photos, fingerprints and eyeballs--stores the image and transfers it to the Web with a cable hookup included with the $49.99 Webster, which will hit shelves in mid-October.

TV spots for Webster will run in October in conjunction with the print for Combo Cam.

The launch of Webster coincides with Polaroid's strategy to build the presence of the I-Zone Web site (izone.polaroid.com), which when it relaunches Sept. 1 will house so-called zones, customized areas enabling teens to store, share, edit or make collages of images.

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